Brown, Jerry(Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr.), 1938–, American political leader, b. San Francisco. The son of Edmund Gerald (Pat) Brown (1905–96), governor of California (1959–67), Brown abandoned early ideas of entering the priesthood and obtained a law degree (Yale, 1964). He entered California politics and after a term (1970–74) as secretary of state, was a two-term governor (1975–83). Although basically a liberal Democrat, Brown gained a reputation for austerity, frugality, and unpredictability. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 and 1980, lost a U.S. Senate race in 1982, and in 1992 again ran unsuccessfully for the presidential nomination, proclaiming himself a populist outsider and advocating a flat-rate income tax. After a period as a radio personality, he was elected mayor of Oakland, Calif., in 1998 and reelected in 2002. In 2006 he ran for California state attorney general, winning handily, and in 2010 and 2014 he was again elected governor, making him the state's longest serving governor. He retired in 2019.
See biographies by O. Schell (1978) and R. Pack (1978).
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Brown, (Edmund Gerald, Jr.) Jerry(1938– ) governor, political maverick; born in San Francisco. The son of California governor “Pat” Brown, he studied at a Jesuit novitiate (1956–60). Torn between contemplation and action, he became a lawyer (1964), then served as secretary of state (1970–74) and governor (Dem., 1975–83) of California. As governor, he was known for turning down many perks of office; he would later spend some time in Japan studying Zen Buddhism. During his runs in the 1976 and 1992 Democratic presidential primaries, he campaigned as an "outsider" in politics, stressing the need to eliminate "big money" influence in government, but his populist message was canceled out by what was perceived as his "spacey" manner.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.