Democrats Dominate California Races

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In California, Democrats were able to buck the national GOP sweep. Democrat Jerry Brown won the governorship over political newcomer Meg Whitman, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer eked out a victory over her Republican rival, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And even as Republicans gained in Congress, Democrats were able to buck the national Republican tide in California. Democrat Jerry Brown won the governorship here over political newcomer Meg Whitman, while incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer eked out a victory over her Republican rival, Carly Fiorina, the former business executive.

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN: Barbara Boxer plunged into a crowd of screaming supporters in a hotel ballroom in Hollywood.

(Soundbite of cheers)

KAHN: Looking clearly relieved, Boxer said this was the toughest election of her career, and joked that she never saw so many unflattering pictures of herself on TV. It was a bruising fight filled with negative TV ads that cost millions of dollars, which Boxer said were funded by out-of-state secretive groups that distorted her record.

Senator BARBARA BOXER (Democrat, California): We stood up to every special interest in this country and we won. Thank you...

KAHN: Republican Carly Fiorina had hoped that the anti-incumbent mood in the nation and her business experience as a former CEO of the computer giant HP would score her her first political victory. But the pro-life, pro-gun Republican who was endorsed by Sarah Palin was out of step with the solidly Democratic California.

In the governor's race, Republican Meg Whitman was more of a moderate, and as the former CEO of eBay had the business experience that she said would right the state's economy and bring jobs back to California. Whitman spent more than $140 million of her personal fortune in the campaign, but in the end came up short against Democrat Jerry Brown.

Brown, who was governor of the state back in the 1970s, told supporters in Oakland that he's ready to put political differences aside to solve California's economic problems.

Governor JERRY BROWN (Democrat, California): And that's the spirit that I want to take back to Sacramento - 28 years later, full of energy, full of creativity, and ready to serve you, the people of California. Thank you very much.

KAHN: Brown was in his 30s when he was first elected governor. He'll be 72 when sworn in again next January. That gives him the distinction of being the youngest and oldest governor elected in modern California history.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Hollywood.

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