On November 2, 2010, Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown Jr. won the California gubernatorial race to become the Golden State’s 39th governor, slipping back into the shoes he had last filled 28 years before, or roughly one Saturn cycle previously. At his first election in 1974, the 36-year-old Brown was the youngest governor in the state’s history; when he takes office in January 2011, he will be the oldest, at 72, all of which makes him a Black Hole candidate, par excellence.
Son of another California Governor, Edmund “Pat” Brown, Jerry Brown has spent his entire life in public service, beginning as California’s Secretary of State in 1971, through two terms as Governor (1975-83), chairman of the California Democratic Party (1989-91), mayor of Oakland (1999-2007) and California Attorney General (2007-present). Interspersed with this were unsuccessful presidential bids in 1976, 1980 and 1992, a failed US Senate run in 1982, and a stint abroad in the mid ‘80s to study Buddhism in Japan and to minister to the sick in one of Mother Teresa’s Calcutta hospices. Not for nothing was the nontraditional, idealistic, visionary, big-dreaming Brown nicknamed “Governor Moonbeam,” a moniker which has stuck with him for more than 30 years, much to Brown’s discomfiture.
Brown’s potential for executive success (born 7 April 1938) is foreshadowed by natal Saturn (career, authority, executive office) at 9 Aries conjunct a Quasar at 10 Aries (and broadly conjunct the 17 Aries Sun), which promotes success, accomplishment, recognition and reward for one’s efforts, enabling him to stand out in a crowd, like a beacon on a hilltop. Brown is closely identified with his career path, both internally and by others, and that Aries Sun in square to the 19 Capricorn Black Hole indicates the potential to pull an electoral rabbit out of a hat, setting records (such as being both the youngest and oldest governor of California) and breaking or setting precedent, often in unorthodox style. Opportunities arise unexpectedly, and for the native nimble enough to get his foot inside the door which the Black Hole opens, success can be considerable, but always at risk of subsequent reversal. Such was the case with Brown’s failed Senate and presidential bids, when despite his popularity and record of effectiveness, he was unable to gain traction nationally, or even with the very same constituency that had granted him two terms as Governor.
Black Hole Sun natives are more subject to projection from others than most, and are never in complete control of their image, although they are also adept at misdirection and putting up false fronts. There is a tendency to try to be all things to all people, and a chameleon-like ability to adapt to circumstance, which can both serve a politician well or provide fodder for his opponents, if inconsistency in positions allows for a charge of pandering or flip-flopping, both of which have plagued Brown at times throughout his career.
An exact semisquare from natal Jupiter at 24 Aquarius (also exactly conjunct a Quasar) to natal Saturn indicates that politics (Jupiter) would stand out (Quasar) for Brown, and figure prominently in his career path (Saturn). Having asteroid California (#341) exactly semisextile Jupiter at 24 Pisces shows the probable venue. Brown’s first statewide post, as California’s Secretary of State, also highlights the link between Saturn and Jupiter, involving as it does the use of diplomacy, a Jovian arena.
After four years in California’s State Department, Brown ran for the Golden State’s highest office, and on 5 November 1974 eked out a slim victory over his Republican opponent, with just 50% of the vote, succeeding Governor Ronald Reagan. GOP party strategists chalked up the loss to lingering anti-Republican sentiments at the election, just 90 days after Nixon’s ignominious resignation.
A Sun/Venus conjunction at 12 Scorpio that day exactly opposed Brown’s natal Uranus at 12 Taurus, forming a T-Square with the Black Hole at 12 Aquarius, providing the unexpected win; transit Mars at 5 Scorpio was also opposed Brown’s natal Mercury at 4 Taurus, energizing (Mars) the electorate (Mercury) and bringing Brown the votes (Mercury) he needed to win his battle (Mars). Transit asteroid Jerold (#33544) was conjunct Mars from 4 Scorpio, exactly atop a flashy, success-oriented Quasar, and exactly opposed Brown’s natal Mercury.
Transit Saturn at 18 Cancer was tightly squared the natal Sun at 17 Aries, while transit asteroid Brown (#1643) at 7 Capricorn was squared natal Saturn at 9 Aries. Saturn was itself conjoined at 8 Aries by asteroid Edmond (#12533), providing a triple whammy of activation to career-related energies (both Saturns), focused on Brown’s essence (the Sun), his given first name (asteroid Edmond) and the name recognition granted to him by his father, former governor Pat Brown (asteroid Brown). The senior Brown had left office just 8 years before, and his progressive administration was remembered fondly by Californians. Pluto at 8 Libra also opposed natal Saturn and transit Edmond, providing the dramatic transformation (Pluto) in Brown’s (Edmond) career (Saturn) circumstances.
Brown’s populist, common touch and lack of pretension (as well as his tendency to shoot from the hip verbally) is described by a natal combination of Mercury and Uranus at 4 and 12 Taurus. The new governor eschewed many of the perks of his office, abandoning the brand new governor’s mansion for a modest rented apartment and preferring to drive (Mercury) himself to work in his own Plymouth sedan instead of using the chauffeured limousines of his predecessors (both of which show Uranus’ egalitarian bent). Sun/Saturn spelled fiscal conservatism as well as an environmental focus; Brown’s budgetary restraint provided a $5 billion surplus for California’s treasury, and he signed into law the nation’s first tax credit for installation of rooftop solar panels, among a host of conservation and environment-friendly measures.
His commitment to diversity, as reflected by both natal Venus and natal Uranus squared Black Holes, was demonstrated by his appointment of more women (Venus) and minorities (Uranus) to office than any prior California governor. Brown also appointed the first openly gay judge in the US, followed by the first lesbian judge, and appointed five out judges in total.
In 1978 Brown was handily re-elected governor with 56% of the vote, but chose not to run for a third term in 1982, instead throwing his hat into the ring in the Senate race, which he lost to Pete Wilson. While governor, Brown had also twice challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1976 when the field was clear, and in 1980, when Carter unsuccessfully sought re-election, but made little headway either time.
During his second term, Brown’s rather unconventional lifestyle (the unmarried 40-something governor was romantically involved with pop superstar Linda Ronstadt) and avowed interest in things cosmic and esoteric (he was a devoted fan of Buckminster Fuller’s visions of the future) earned him the nickname “Governor Moonbeam,” and he began to be seen as out-of-touch and too avant garde for his own good, even in notably kooky California, a factor which contributed to his Senate loss.
Upon his voter-imposed “retirement” in 1983, a peripatetic Brown proceeded to seemingly justify the popular image of him, by first moving to Mexico to study Spanish, then on to Japan for a course in Zen meditation, and finally to Calcutta to work for the poor with Mother Teresa. In a 1989 interview with Time magazine about the end of his first gubernatorial tenure, Brown commented, “I had such a negative reputation that every time I stood up someone would call me Moonbeam. I felt I had to absent myself for a while, expiate for my political sins.”
Brown’s choices at this period may be related to a loose Yod, or Finger of Destiny, formed by inconjuncts from natal Sun and Jupiter to Neptune at 19 Virgo, which shows a fated (Yod) self-abnegation or withdrawal (Neptune) from public life (Jupiter) to focus on internals (Sun). In his statements on the rationale behind his unusual departures from a standard political career path, we see a glimpse of this. Regarding his study of Zen (meditation being in Neptune’s bailiwick), he commented, ”Since politics [Jupiter] is based on illusions [Neptune], zazen definitely provides new insights for a politician. I [Sun] then come back into the world of California and politics, with critical distance from some of my more comfortable assumptions.“
Speaking of his time with Mother Teresa, similar Neptunian themes of service, sacrifice and empathy are raised: “Politics is a power struggle to get to the top of the heap. Calcutta and Mother Teresa are about working with those who are at the bottom of the heap. And to see them as no different than yourself, and their needs as important as your needs. And you’re there to serve them, and doing that you are attaining as great a state of being as you can.”
Brown was as good as his word, returning to the political fray immediately upon his return from abroad in 1988, when he entered the race for chair of the California Democratic Party. He won that post in 1989, and expanded both the party’s donor base and its grassroots organization, then resigned in 1991 to pursue a second Senate bid.
But smelling blood in the water for President George H. W. Bush’s re-election in 1992, Brown abandoned his Senate race and once again turned his sights on the White House. His populist message inveighing against the “the bipartisan Incumbent Party in Washington,” and exhorting supporters to “take back America from the confederacy of corruption, careerism, and campaign consulting” struck a chord, and Brown was ahead of his time in decrying campaign finance issues, declaring he would only accept contributions of $100 or less from ordinary citizens, refusing all corporate and PAC money for his campaign. Brown also opposed NAFTA and was an early proponent of a flat tax, both popular stands with grassroots voters.
Funding was a problem, with Brown unable to afford conventional TV advertising, and relying instead on frequent TV and radio interviews to attract attention, and the use of a toll-free number to encourage contributions. After a poor showing in Iowa (where he garnered just 1% of the vote) and New Hampshire, Brown went on to narrow victories in Maine, Vermont, Colorado, Nevada and Alaska, until the crowded Democratic field had narrowed to just himself, Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas, and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.
By mid-March, Brown had forced Tsongas from the race with strong second place showings in Illinois and Michigan, then threatened Clinton’s ascendancy with a narrow, bitterly fought victory in the Connecticut primary. An unexpected gaffe (read: Mercury conjunct Uranus squared Black Holes) on the campaign trail occurred when Brown told Jewish supporters that if successful in the nomination, he would consider Reverend Jesse Jackson for his running mate. Jackson was cordially detested by many Jewish voters, who saw him as anti-Semitic. Just days later Brown went down to a narrow defeat in Wisconsin and was dealt a crushing blow in New York, where he trailed Clinton by 15 points. Brown continued his campaign, but won no more primaries; as runner-up he spoke at the Democratic Convention that summer, but without endorsing Clinton.
In 1998, Brown ran for mayor of Oakland, California, and easily won election with 59% of the vote. His political scope as mayor seemed pathetically reduced after being governor, but Brown acquitted himself well in the office, winning re-election in 2002 with an increased victory margin of 63%. He is credited with the revitalization of the city, developing downtown housing and rebuilding the business community there, to which he attracted considerable outside investment via his connections as former governor.
After six years as Oakland’s mayor, Brown again became restless for statewide office, and in 2006 ran for and won the position of California Attorney General. In that capacity, he has fought to defend capital punishment laws with which he personally disagrees, and was an early herald of the upcoming mortgage crisis when in June 2008 he filed suit against Countrywide Financial for their predatory loan practices in offering risky mortgages to unqualified homeowners. In 2010 both he and governor Schwarzenegger refused to appeal a US District Court’s ruling which overturned California’s controversial Proposition 8, a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution which would ban same sex marriage, and which the District Court had ruled unconstitutional.
On 2 March 2010 Jerry Brown entered the race for California governor. The day is remarkable not so much for itself, as for what it presaged for the general election to come. The Sun at 11 Pisces was conjoined transit Jupiter at 10 Pisces, a good day for focusing on politics, as well as trine its future Election Day degree of 9 Scorpio, and exactly inconjunct the 11 Libra Saturn (chief executive) for the upcoming election. Transit Saturn at 2 Libra was running with transit asteroid Edmond at 3 Libra, both squared the future election’s Pluto at 3 Capricorn; transit asteroid Jerold at 21 Cancer was forming a Grand Trine with Election Day’s Jupiter (politics) at 23 Pisces and Mercury (votes) at 20 Scorpio. Transit asteroid Brown at 8 Aquarius was squared the election Sun at 9 Scorpio, while being exactly conjunct future opponent Meg Whitman’s natal Chiron, prefiguring the wounding to come. The importance of women (who ended up supporting Brown by a 16-point margin) and progressives (who make up 45% of the California electorate) to the outcome was depicted by a conjunction of Venus (women) at 23 Pisces and Uranus (progressives) at 25 Pisces with transit asteroid California at 26 Pisces, all these points conjunct the Election Day Jupiter (politics) and squared its Mercury (votes).
After winning the June Democratic primary, Brown squared off against Republican nominee Margaret “Meg” Whitman, billionaire former E-bay CEO, who spent more than $141 million of her own money, a national record for a self-funder. Brown raised some $44 million, and was supported by another $23 million in ads from outside groups such as SEIU. The monetary disparity proved to be no advantage for Whitman, who lost to Brown by a 53%-41% margin on 2 November 2010. Frequent mis-steps for Whitman eroded her support, such as controversies surrounding her voting record (she had not voted in any election for 28 years), her housekeeper’s residency issues (an undocumented worker, she refuted Whitman’s allegation that she was unaware of her illegal status by producing a Social Security Administration letter questioning her residency which was annotated in Whitman’s husband’s own hand) and ties to Wall Street bad-boy firm Goldman Sachs.
Whitman also made a political novice’s mistakes. In one unfortunate campaign ad gaffe, she touted California’s idyllic past, stating that “30 years ago, anything was possible in California—that’s why I came to the state,” without first pausing to consider that in that halcyon age, California’s governor was none other than one Edmund “Jerry” Brown!
On Election Day 2010, asteroids Edmond and Margarita (#310, for Margaret “Meg” Whitman) were appropriately locked in orbit with contentious Mars, Edmond at 7 Sagittarius, trine Brown’s natal Saturn at 9 Aries, while Margarita and Mars conjoined exactly at 3 Sagittarius. Asteroid Jerold at 4 Libra, conjunct the 5 Libra spotlighting, success-producing Quasar, was also conjunct transit Saturn at 11 Libra, and both opposed Brown’s natal Saturn, which was broadly conjoined by transit asteroid Brown at 1 Aries. Transit Chiron (wounding) at 26 Aquarius lay exactly squared Whitman’s natal Saturn at 26 Scorpio, with Neptune (disappointment) close beside at 25 Aquarius exactly on a Quasar, all these points forming a T-Square with Whitman’s exact natal Mercury (votes) and Pluto (destruction) conjunction at 27 Leo.
Progressive Uranus stymied conservative Whitman at every turn. Born 4 August 1956, her 12 Leo Sun is exactly squared by Brown’s 12 Taurus Uranus, which also exactly conjoins her natal asteroid Margret (#1410), another variant of her first name. Transit Jupiter exactly conjoined her natal Mars at 23 Pisces on Election Day, which might have given her an advantage in a political (Jupiter) battle (Mars), but was accompanied by transit Uranus at 27 Pisces and asteroid Brown at 1 Aries. Transit Uranus is also exactly inconjunct both Whitman’s natal Neptune, bringing disappointment, at 27 Libra (which Brown’s natal asteroid Brown conjoins from 26 Libra, while Whitman’s natal asteroid Brown squares from 26 Cancer), and her natal Mercury/Pluto, a devastating electoral loss, at 27 Leo, forming between them an exact Yod, or Finger of Destiny.
Whitman’s natal Uranus at 3 Leo was exactly squared by Brown’s natal Margret at 3 Scorpio, also squared by his natal Jerold at 0 Scorpio and transit Venus at 2 Scorpio, and Brown’s natal Venus at 2 Taurus and natal Mercury at 4 Taurus. Whitman’s Uranus was further tag-teamed by an exact trine from transit Mars at 3 Sagittarius, and an exact inconjunct from transit Pluto at 3 Capricorn.
The rival candidates’ disparate views of California’s future are portrayed by Whitman’s natal asteroid California at 18 Virgo opposed Brown’s at 24 Pisces, conjunct both transit Jupiter and Whitman’s Mars on Election Day. Additionally, Whitman’s California is broadly conjoined by her natal asteroid Edmond at 28 Virgo, and squared by her natal asteroid Jerold at 22 Gemini, with natal asteroid Brown thrown into the mix by a broad sextile from 26 Cancer, just for good measure. Transit asteroid Margret at 20 Virgo on Election Day tried to make a difference, but its conjunction with Whitman’s natal California was overwhelmed by so much Edmond/Jerold/Brown, and squashed by Brown’s natal Neptune at 19 Virgo, bringing disappointment for Whitman in its wake. Even transit asteroid California at 18 Cancer (on the exact degree where Saturn fell at Brown’s first gubernatorial victory in 1974) gave the nod to Brown, by its tight square to his natal Sun at 17 Aries.
For the once and future Jerry, electoral success was written in the stars.