Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
11/04/2014 11:06 PM

Jerry Brown, a political wunderkind who morphed into California’s crusty elder statesman, entered the record books Tuesday by handily winning a fourth term as governor.

However, whether he also carves out a prominent place in the history books to match his father’s top-tier status remains uncertain.

That depends on whether his third-term actions pan out over the next four years and he can build on them.

Brown, of course, never admits that he returned to the governorship after a 28-year absence to improve his legacy. He would have us believe he was solely re-enlisting for civic duty.

But he boasts of a “California Comeback” during his return, citing balancing the state budget, reforming education finance, overhauling the prison system, pursuing water stability and championing greenhouse gas reduction.

As voters comfortably re-elected the 76-year-old Brown over token Republican challenger Neel Kashkari on Tuesday, they handed him two more wins by approving a $7.5 billion water bond and a “rainy day” fund to cushion the budget from economic downturns.

With Kashkari presenting no serious obstacle, Brown has not been compelled to lay out a fourth-term agenda, and has been visibly irritated when reporters pressed him about it.

While always eager to dazzle out-of-state scribblers with his erudition, Brown clearly considers California journalists to be pests and became downright peevish when one reporter persisted last week in asking him about his fourth term.

“Look,” he snapped, “you won’t print half of what I say. You won’t. I dare you to, OK? So this whole canard about ‘What are you doing to do, Brown? Think about it’.”

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