Nov. 7, 1978 Governor





x x










+Jerry Brown (D) i
Evelle Younger (R)
Ed Clark (I)
Marilyn Seals (P&F)
Theresa Dietrich (AIP)


Plurality: 1,352,278 votes (19.54 percentage points).

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) easily won a second term, defeating Attorney General Evelle Younger (R).  Ed Clark, a Libertarian running as an independent, tallied 5.5% of the vote, and two third party candidate rounded out the field.

Younger won the June 6 Republican primary with 41.0% of the vote, defeating State Sen. Ed Davis (30.0%), State Senate Majority Leader Ken Maddy (19.7%) and San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson (9.3%).  Brown easily won the Democratic primary over several little known challengers.  Also in the June primary, California voters overwhelmingly approved the far-reaching Proposition 13 to limit property taxes.  Brown, whose primary literature noted he was "leading the fight again Jarvis-Gann," pivoted "quickly to implement Prop. 13."

Brown established an idiosyncratic reputation in his first term as governor, captured by columnist Mike Royko's "Governor Moonbeam" moniker. 
Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone, summarized Brown's appeal, "[H]e's interesting, unpredictable, smart, dashing in a cold way. His involvement with Zen, his affair with Linda Ronstadt, his insistence on privacy, speaks for a kind of personal freedom, a selfish integrity, that many envy and admire."  Brown was a late entrant into the 1976 campaign for president, announcing his candidacy in March; he won contests in California, Nevada and Maryland.  As Brown sought re-election in 1978, there was talk that he might run for president again in 1980. 

Younger, by contrast, presented a very straight-laced persona.  Younger argued that Brown had "done a bad job" and had "failed as a leader and a manager."  Younger also pointed to Brown's unsuccessful campaign for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination.  In his announcement of candidacy, Younger stated, "
Our Governor is preoccupied. He would rather run in a Presidential primary than run our great state. He would sooner go to Tokyo than to Tulare; London than Lawndale. He would rather talk about the outer limit of some far-off galaxy than the one-hundred sixty acre limit in Imperial County." 

Clark, a corporate attorney and chairman of the California Libertarian Party, obtained a creditable 5.46% of the vote.  His co-campaign manager David Boaz, later described Clark's two-month campaign where, "
Mostly he stayed in the big cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, plus one trip through Bakersfield, Fresno, and Stockton in the Central Valley."  The campaign did some advertising, and Clark even won the endorsement of the Bakersfield Californian.  Clark went on to win the 1980 Libertarian Party nomination for president.

Brown carried all but nine of the state's 58 counties, and won by more than 1.3 million votes.

Campaign Managers:
Jerry Brown:  Gray Davis
Chief of staff to Gov. Jerry Brown from 1975 and earlier on the transition.  Candidate in the Democratic primary for State Treasurer, 1974.  Finance chairman on Councilman Tom Bradley's successful campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles, 1973.  Chairman of the California Council on Criminal Justice.  Served in the U.S. Army, earning a Bronze Star for service in Vietnam, 1967-69.  J.D. from Columbia Law School, 1967; B.A. in history from Stanford University, 1964.

Evelle Younger:  Ken Rietz
Campaign manager on Sen. Bill Brock's unsuccessful re-election campaign, 1976.  Worked on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign, 1975.  Worked for MGM/Curb Records.  RNC deputy chairman (director of "new majority campaign") but resigned, 1973.  Head of Young Voters for the President (youth division of President Nixon's re-elect) in 1972.  Campaign manager on William Mills' successful congressional campaign in MD-1 May 1971 special election.  Co-founder (1970) Allison, Treleaven and Rietz consulting firm.  Managed U.S. Rep. Bill Brock's successful campaign against U.S. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. (TN) in 1970.  Aide to U.S. Rep. Steiger; press secretary on William Steiger's campaign for Congress (WI-6), 1966. Worked on Wilbur Renk's campaign for U.S. Senate (WI), 1964.  Studied at The George Washington University to senior year. Originally from Wisconsin.   (sources: Lauren W. Whittington, "Thompson's seasoned hand."  Roll Call, June 20, 2007.  Henry W. McGee III.  "The GOP Strategy: Organizing Nixon Youth From thhe Top down, Reitz Now Has 200,000 Student Volunteers." The Harvard Crimson, Oct. 24, 1972.

Ed Clark:  David Boaz and Bob Costello (co-managers)

See also:
Greil Marcus.  "Running on Empty: An Analysis of the California Election.", Dec. 28, 1978. [originally in Rolling Stone]

Wallace Turner.  "Gov. Brown Begins Intensive Campaign."  The New York Times, May 7, 1978.

Lou Cannon.  "The Puzzling Politics Of Jerry Brown."  The Washington Post, Feb. 5, 1978.
and more recent:

Evelle J. Younger and Steven D. Edgington.  "A lifetime in law enforcement oral history transcript."  UCLA Oral History Program, 1982.

Jack Foley.  "Remembering Moonbeam: The Legacy of Jerry Brown."  Berkeley Political Review, May 31, 2017.

David Boaz.  "Happy 90th Birthday, Ed Clark."  Cato at Liberty Blog, May 1, 2020.