Jerry, Meg: The Wee Small Hours

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Getty/Justin Sullivan

Jerry Brown was making his way out of a packed diner in downtown Chico. He'd just given a thorough, though a bit rambling, defense of why he is asking voters to again elect him as governor. And now, he was shaking hands and thanking the final throng of folks who had waited outside and listened on a loudspeaker to his remarks inside.

"Go get 'em!" yelled a supporter.

To which Brown replied, "Well, they're gonna get me, too." Maybe, if things go his way.

The undeniable fact about this long, bitter, and expensive race for governor is this: like it or not, someone's getting this job come daybreak on Wednesday.

I caught up with the two leading candidates for two of their combined 14 statewide stops over this weekend before voters go to the polls, with my radio story Monday morning on The California Report. Like so many races, both Brown and Meg Whitman seem almost indefatigable as the finish line appears in their view. And for any person who puts himself or herself out there on the line, there must be this feeling that every last thing that can be done... should be done.

Whitman's Saturday evening event in Sacramento certainly felt like that. The setting seemed, frankly, strange; a packing company's warehouse on the outskirts of town, where only those invited knew to show up. And yet the Republican nominee, bashed in some circles for not being "real" or "human" enough, shook every last hand, thanked every last person who wanted to talk to her. Most all of the raucous crowd had already left to sample the cookout fare provided by the campaign when she finally left the stage.

KQED/John Myers

"Change, real change, is going to come to Sacramento," said Whitman to applause. "Our problems are tough, but so am I."

There also seemed to be a sense of urgency in the candidate's voice that I haven't heard at her many other events during this campaign. Granted, that's the reality of the final weekend; but it could also be the fact that the public polls are almost all predicting she's behind and in danger of losing. One online poll of polls has put her chances of gubernatorial success at just four percent. But the candidate dismissed those prognostications, and seemed to fire up her supporters.

"She's got it written down," said Sacramento resident Louie Lodi, in reference to Whitman's booklet of proposals.

In the same way as Whitman's supporters seemed to channel the candidate's plans, the supporters of Brown who showed up at Chico's Broadway Heights Restaurant.

"You have to make some creative decisions," said Marilyn Reese of Chico. "And I believe Jerry Brown can get us to that point once again."

And while the Democratic nominee does, in a way, represent a return to the past, that didn't stand in the way of his comments to the crowd about California's eternally forward looking nature. "The key to California is imagination," he said. "It's innovation. It's creativity. It's not going backwards."

The rallies and events wrap up Monday night -- Whitman in Temecula, Brown back home in Oakland. And then we wait to see what the voters say.

Update Monday 9:07 a.m. The audio to today's radio story is below.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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