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California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown -- one of the Democratic party's last few surviving bosses -- fended off a tough Republican challenge and hung onto his job, despite a new Republican majority in the Assembly. Brown was reelected to the post today by the narrowest of margins -- 40-39 -- after a bizarre 15-hour session in which he browbeat a maverick Republican into supporting him. However sweet his victory, Brown still must leave the Assembly two years from now, under California's term-limits law. Making the best of the situation, Brown said today: "I look forward to early retirement."