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Jerry Brown gets his dream job

January 20, 2010 | 12:00 pm

JerryBrown Meet the new governor of California -- Jerry Brown.

Brown, the state attorney general and an all-but-declared candidate this year for governor, is acting governor because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature’s top leaders are in Washington, D.C., seeking federal funding for recession-plagued California.

When the governor is out of the state, the lieutenant governor typically assumes the governor’s duties. But California has no lieutenant governor -- the last one, John Garamendi, resigned after he won a House seat from the 10th Congressional District.

Garamendi’s replacement, appointed by the governor, is Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria). But Maldonado has not yet been confirmed.

With no lieutenant governor,  the leader of the Senate, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is next in line, followed by the Assembly speaker. But Steinberg and Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) are with Schwarzenegger in Washington.

The next up in the line of succession the secretary of state, but Debra Bowen is out of state on a family matter. That leaves Brown, who served as governor from 1975 to 1983 and who knows something about acting governors.

At one point, when Brown, a Democrat, left the state during his governorship to campaign for president, then-Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, a Republican, exercised one of the governor’s fundamental powers -- he appointed judges. Curb’s action prompted a political firestorm and ultimately prompted limits on the lieutenant governor’s powers.

Schwarzenegger and the legislative leaders are expected to return to California on Thursday evening.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: Jerry Brown in November 2009. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

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