Jerry Brown is a pessimist. He’s in charge of a state with a higher GDP than most countries. He doesn’t believe in legacies. Yet he enacted an unprecedented labor rights law for farmworkers, accrued a $5 billion dollar surplus, and made the state a leader in climate change planning. Previously critiqued for being disorganized, he has become a deal-maker in his old age and learned to prioritize his efforts. He has served as California’s governor for 15 years, and he will soon step down. For The California Sunday Magazine, Andy Kroll profiles California’s hardworking public servant during his final days in office, and he surveys his life’s work (note: not a legacy). He’s trying to start two more controversial projects: twin water tunnels in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, and a high-speed rail connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Brown was playing a part many Californians had never seen — the statesman — and there…

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