Everything old is new again in California, where Democrat Jerry Brown defeated big-spending GOP rival Meg Whitman and was elected governor, an office he held for two terms nearly 30 years ago.
The Los Angeles Times said Brown, the state's attorney general, was the projected winner only minutes after polls closed in California on Tuesday. Fox News also projected Brown to be the winner.
It was the most expensive gubernatorial race in state history, with Whitman, the former chief of eBay, spending upwards of $160 million -- more than $140 million of her own money. By comparison, Brown was a regular cheapskate, raising about $32 million.
Brown appeared victorious when addressing cheering supporters late Tuesday.
"They haven't counted all the the votes yet, but hell, it's good enough for government work," Brown said. "So it looks like we're going back again."
Brown promised to compromise with his political opponents while working to fix California.
"Tonight has not turned out quite as we had hoped," Whitman told supporters near Los Angeles. "I gave it my all, and so did you."
Whitman polled ahead of Brown for much of the race, blanketing the airwaves with ads attacking the Democrat as a political lifer. The ex-CEO touted her outsider status and business acumen as the combination needed to help close the state's $20 billion budget deficit and create jobs.
Brown, 72, pressed his experience in the statehouse, telling voters Sacramento needed someone who knows the ins and outs of government to solve the state's fiscal woes.
The Democrat slowly and steadily closed the polling gap, pulling ahead for good last month after Whitman made headlines when a former housekeeper alleged the Republican knowingly employed her as an illegal immigrant.
The campaign turned ugly in early October, when someone in the Brown
camp was caught on tape referring to the Republican as a "whore," suggesting she would make deals with special interest groups. Brown made a public apology.
When Brown was first elected in 1975 at age 36, he was one of the youngest governors in California history. Now he becomes the oldest. Brown ran for president twice, in 1980 and 1992, and also served as mayor of Oakland for two terms starting in 1996.
Brown received congratulations from the man he will succeed, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who did not endorse either candidate.
"Jerry has demonstrated his commitment to the people of California throughout a lifetime of public service as governor, mayor of Oakland and attorney general, and I pledge to work with his incoming administration to provide the most efficient and smooth transition of power possible for the people of California," Schwarzenegger said in a statement Tuesday night.