NPR logo It's Gov. Jerry Brown Again, Albeit Briefly

It's Gov. Jerry Brown Again, Albeit Briefly

There once was a governor of California by the name of Jerry Brown. He was elected in 1974, re-elected in '78, and decided to give up the governorship in 1982 to run for the Senate. He was defeated.

He also sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, 1980 and 1992. And it looks like he will be his party's gubernatorial nominee once again, this year.

But for a brief time this week — for all of 24 hours — he was governor again. In his capacity as acting governor, he proclaimed a state of emergency in five counties due to the winter storms.

And how, might you ask, did this happen? Here's the scoop, via Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News:

As attorney general, Brown is fifth in the line of succession. But ...

— Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was out of the state.

— The power would then shift to the lt. gov., but there is none. The previous incumbent, John Garamendi (D), was elected to Congress. The state Legislature has yet to act on Schwarzenegger's suggested replacement.

— The next two officials in line, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, both Democrats, were traveling with Schwarzenegger.

— Next in line? Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D), who was also out of state dealing with a family emergency.

That left Brown. His "tenure" as acting governor ended when Schwarzenegger returned on Thursday night.

Brown is also hoping to reclaim the title — absent the "acting" — after the November elections. First, he has to get by the Republican nominee, which is expected to be the winner of the June 8 primary contest between former eBay chief Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. A Field Poll out today shows Whitman with a sizable 45-17 percent lead. The recent withdrawal from the gov. race of former Rep. Tom Campbell — he's now running for Senate — apparently has dramatically boosted Whitman's primary fortunes.