Blame "Governor Moonbeam" Moniker on Chicago

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued Cosco-Busan on Tuesday.

    A lot of people are googling Jerry Brown these days. The newly declared candidate for governor has a  vibrant past, and most of the colors have nothing to do with politics. 

    Among the interesting facts: He spent four years in Catholic seminary, traveled to Japan to study Buddhism and dated rock star Linda Ronstadt.

    He also had a nickname that stuck. Long before Arnold Schwarzenegger was called the Governator, Jerry Brown, who served as California's governor from 1975-83, was declared "Governor Moonbeam."

    Here is the story behind the moonbeam.

    That 30-year-old moniker, which is still affecting Jerry Brown's political persona today, was created by legendary Chicago columnist Mike Royka.

    According to New York Times research, Royko called Brown "Governor Moonbeam" in 1976, when he said Brown was attracting "the moonbeam vote," meaning young, idealistic and nontraditional.

    The nickname stuck and even grew to have different meanings, such as when Brown suggested the state be the first in the U.S. to launch its own satellite. Space exploration, it seemed, was something Brown dreamt of encouraging, but for more grounded reporters and his political opposition, that aspiration opened Brown to outright ridicule.

    Royko had a well-known distaste for California and its politics -- once calling it "the world's largest outdoor mental asylum," according to the Times, but he eventually grew to respect Brown and his politics. It happened in 1980, while Brown was making a bid for his party's presidential nomination. After his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Royko wrote, "the more I see of Brown, the more I am convinced that he has been the only Democrat in this year’s politics who understands what this country will be up against.”

    Royko went on to regret the Governor Moonbeam nickname he gave Brown, declaring it "idiodic" and begging people to stop using it. That never happened, but Brown doesn't seem to mind. He's embraced it, giving it yet another meaning -- this one all his own.

    Being called Governor Moonbeam means he's "creative and not hidebound to the status quo," Brown said after recent Republican references to the nickname. "Moonbeam also stands for not being the insider ... but standing apart and marching to my own drummer. And I’ve done that."