Democrat Jerry Brown was elected California governor on Tuesday in an extraordinary political encore, defeating billionaire Republican Meg Whitman and the $142 million she spent of her own fortune as he reclaimed the office he held a generation ago.
The 72-year-old state attorney general's victory leaves him with the enormous task of lifting the state out of a recession and joblessness.
"Jerry's certainly up to it. The people of California made a good choice," said his campaign spokesman, Sterling Clifford.
Several hundred Brown supporters who had gathered at the historic Fox Theater in Oakland began chanting "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry" as television screens showed him as the winner.
Brown visited briefly with some VIPs at the theater, then ducked out a side door. He was expected to return later
Whitman's campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, told supporters gathered in Los Angeles that she was not ready to concede the race.
Brown's victory over the former eBay chief executive brought the office back under Democratic control. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's term will end in January after a little more than seven years in office.
Schwarzenegger congratulated Brown in a statement Tuesday night in which he pledged to work with him for a smooth transition.