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Jerry Brown claims victory in California governor’s race; Whitman concedes

on November 2, 2010

Democratic candidate Jerry Brown has taken the lead in California’s gubernatorial race, and has claimed victory as the state’s new governor. According to the California Secretary of State’s website, as of 11:26 pm, with 39 percent of precincts counted, Brown led opponent Meg Whitman by 8.7 points.

At that time Whitman’s campaign had yet to concede, but Brown took the stage at the Oakland Fox Theater to accept as winner a few minutes after 11 pm. “We haven’t got all the votes in yet,” Brown said, “but hell, it’s good enough for government work.”

“I’m hoping and I’m praying that this breakdown that’s been going on for years in the capital and in Washington, that the breakdown paves the way for a breakthrough,” Brown said, accepting the title of governor-elect.

Brown addressed the crowd in front of students from two charter schools he founded in Oakland during his time as mayor—the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Academy. “I built these schools because I want to build for the future,” Brown said, “and not just for these schools, but for every school in California.”

Pledging new transparency in the state government, Brown said that collaboration is needed in Sacramento. “In our society, we’ve got to have a larger sense of agreement,” he said.

The Fox Theater started to fill with guests around 8:00 pm. The downtown Oakland venue, decorated with Oak leaf table centerpieces and Jerry Brown signs, sits in the neighborhood Brown swore to revitalize while he was the city’s mayor from 1998-2006. Formally dressed staffers, union representatives, and local supporters milled around eating appetizers and watching CNN’s election returns on a large on-stage projector.

A cheer went up in the Fox Theater as CNN reported Brown’s lead shortly before 8:00 pm. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Marcus W. Clark, 54, on seeing Brown’s lead projected while standing on the lower floor of the Fox Theater. Clark, who has lived in Oakland since childhood and operates a building maintenance company with his father, said he volunteered for previous Jerry Brown campaigns liked what Brown did as Oakland’s mayor.

Cheers continued as newscasters projected each Democratic victory — around 9:15, a narrow margin of victory was first announced for Jerry Brown. “That three percent was great,” partygoer Mika Uehara said of watching the poll returns come up on TV. The Oaklander’s boyfriend worked on Brown’s campaign, and Uehara said she felt it was important this year “to be plugged into the issues, and making sure that my voice is heard through voting.”

Whitman, who ultimately conceded the race around 11:30 pm, hosted her own election night party in Universal City in Los Angeles County, where she also held her party on the night of the primary. “Tomorrow, we are all Californians,” Whitman said in her concession speech, saying it was time to unite over fixing the state’s problems.

The Republican Party put on a separate celebration at the Hyatt in Irvine, California, according to Micah Grant of the Republican headquarters in Sacramento. Grant said the party planners expected the big name candidates to make appearances at the Irvine event.

Deepak Mehta, a Danville businessman who owns the Jack in the Box franchises of Oakland, said he is excited to see what Brown will do for business. “He was bringing so much business to the Oracle Arena,” said Mehta of Brown’s time as Oakland’s mayor.

The gubernatorial campaign became a faceoff between Brown and Whitman after the June primary election, when Whitman beat out rival Steve Poizner. The race that followed saw the candidates squaring off over the state budget, with Whitman saying she would go after welfare services in favor of education, and accusing Brown of favoring higher taxes. For its part, the Brown campaign created ads before the primaries ended calling Whitman too partisan.

The Democratic campaign also fought the idea, put forth by Whitman, that Brown had opposed Proposition 13 while he was Governor in 1978, and that Bill Clinton had criticized Brown’s approach to taxes while they ran against each other in the 1992 presidential primary.

Meanwhile, Whitman faced accusations that she had knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper in the past.

Brown went into Election Day with the most recent poll showing an eight point lead in his favor, numbers the Public Policy Institute of California announced on October 20. Nearly 69 percent of Oakland’s voters supported Brown in the June primary, according to data from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

At Brown’s Tuesday night party, he promised to revitalize the state. “I want California once again leading in renewable energy, public education, and an openness to every person,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Air cannons shot red, white and blue confetti into the air, and elated partygoers posed with for photographs with Brown as he briefly walked into the crowd after his speech.

Check out all of our Oakland elections coverage on our Campaign 2010 page.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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