As people look to California to push back against a Republican agenda, Jerry Brown sees his star soar
California Governor Jerry Brown, nearing the end of an unprecedented fourth term in office, stands in the governor’s mansion in Sacramento

It was one of San Francisco’s famously cool summer days and a victorious moment for the 79-year-old governor, one that would not have had the same electricity if Hillary Clinton had been the person occupying the Oval Office.

“There are turning points where the earth goes into irreversible change,” Brown warned, preparing to sign legislation he had championed to extend California’s singular cap-and-trade program until 2030. “This is not about a politician,” he went on. “It’s about the world. And California is leading the world in dealing with the principal existential threat that humanity faces. I mean, what could be a more glorious undertaking than the one we’re now embarked upon?”

California has always been a place for glorious undertakings—mining for gold, chasing fame, coming up with Silicon Valley’s next big idea—and few names carry more political weight in the state than Brown’s. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jerry Brown first served as governor 40 years ago, and as he nears the end of an unprecedented fourth term, the election of Donald Trump has arguably made the Golden State’s chief executive the most powerful Democrat in America. As Washington continues to be dominated by scandal and squabble, the state that likes to think of itself as an engine for progress is using the President as fuel. “We are getting sh-t done,” Brown said to a cheering crowd of union members in late August in San Francisco, touting recent achievements like passing a gas tax that will fund $52 billion in road repairs. “We’re here to lead,” Brown said, “not to listen to that clown in Washington tear the country apart.”

Over the past half century, Brown has served not just as governor but as California’s secretary of state and

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME5 min readPolitics
A Deadly New Virus Goes Global
LUNAR NEW YEAR IS A TIME FOR TRAVEL across China, as people make up to 450 million trips abroad for vacation or back to their hometowns for meals with family. But a deadly virus is also on the move, putting a damper on the celebrations, which fall ar
TIME2 min readPolitics
Can A President Be Removed From Office If There Wasn’t A Crime?
BENEATH THE HEATED PARTISAN LANGUAGE surrounding President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial lies a constitutional question: Can a President be removed from office even if he hasn’t committed a crime? That’s the key question facing the Senate now that
TIME4 min read
I Defied the Odds and Challenges That Faced Me at Birth, and Now It’s Time to Defy Gravity.
THERE CAN BE irony in even the happiest of sentiments—a fact that is surely not lost on Eddie Ndopu. The son of a South African mother and a Namibian father, Ndopu was born in 1990, the year Namibia attained its independence from South Africa, and ju