After much speculation, Brown signed the measure, a victory for "death with dignity" advocates and a blow to the
"I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill," Brown wrote. "And I wouldn't deny that right to others."
Brown, who leaves office
"His ability to articulate his deliberations and why he landed the way he did — to me that's quintessential
Brown has honed that decision-making style over five decades in public life , including a record 16 years as
He used the bully pulpit that comes with governing the nation's largest state to mount three unsuccessful bids for president and urge swifter action on climate change — something he'll continue when he leaves office — and he's credited with pulling
The son of Gov.
Now 80, he's still an idealist but one who during the last eight years championed fiscal moderation, a position that sometimes put him at odds with fellow
He never gave up on the satellite idea. Last fall, at the end of a global conference on climate change that he organized, he announced
"Jerry is an original and always has been," said his sister
"Taking pride is not something that I have been trained to pursue," Brown said recently at a
But the priesthood ultimately wasn't for Brown; he instead got a law degree at Yale and a job at a
Brown leaves the governorship with an unmatchable history in
Brown again ran unsuccessfully for president in 1980, with a slogan that reflected the same sensitivities he has today: "Protect the Earth, serve the people, explore the universe."
After losing a bid for the
He prefers the second two terms to the first.
"I was more experienced, the people who work with me were more skilled, I had a wonderful wife who was my partner and companion in all this," he told The Associated Press in a recent interview. Brown's wife,
The second time around, Brown more easily persuaded the Legislature and voters to make politically painful decisions such as cutting services or raising taxes on themselves. Lawmakers often overrode his vetoes in the 1970s, but they did not do it once in the last eight years. Unlike his early terms, Brown didn't have his sights set on the presidency.
In the 1970s, Brown brought younger, more diverse voices into state government. He appointed his campaign manager,
He won passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, the first in the nation to give farmworkers collective bargaining rights. It was hailed as a victory, but its long-term effectiveness remains disputed.
Brown also fell victim to his presidential ambitions, giving lawmakers and voters the impression he was focused elsewhere. In 1978, a property tax revolt led to the passage of a ballot measure that radically changed
Although Brown opposed it, his embrace of the measure once it passed earned him the endorsement of tax crusader
When Brown returned to
And while he's made significant strides on climate change by extending a cap-and-trade program for emissions and expanding access to electric cars, critics fault him for failing to stop new oil drilling.
"There's a slightly tragic quality to the fact that he couldn't in the end bring himself to change his outlook, because the thing that's marked his career for decades is being able to change his outlook and be kind of ahead of the curve," said
Criticism, bad press, political fights — Brown said he will miss it all when he leaves the governor's office and retires to a ranch he built on family land in rural
"I can't think of a day I haven't enjoyed since I've been governor," he said. "I can't think of one day."