LOS ANGELES — When it comes to politics, the state synonymous with perpetual youth has gone gray at the top.
California Gov. Jerry Brown was born the year Babe Ruth signed on to coach the Dodgers — the Brooklyn Dodgers. California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, was exiting high school the year President Harry Truman sacked Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Humphrey Bogart swaggered across the screen in "The Enforcer."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was a college student when she attended John F. Kennedy's inaugural address — in 1961. And Sen. Barbara Boxer was born before the U.S. entered World War II, in a year when a gallon of gasoline cost 18 cents.
They're all older than Ronald Reagan when he became, at 69, the oldest president to take office in U.S. history. They've endured for years in a trendsetting state that popularized everything from skateboarding to Spago, where every year brings something new, whether on a Hollywood screen, a food truck menu or a Silicon Valley laptop.
At issue is more than a few wrinkles.
Earlier this month in Washington, Pelosi, 72, bristled when a reporter alluded to her accumulating years and asked whether younger House members were being sidelined by septuagenarian leaders unwilling to relinquish power.
"It's quite offensive," she added, arguing that she had helped to advance, not stifle, the careers of younger House Democrats.
A similar question is being raised about prized offices in California. Something of a logjam is taking shape among the party's young guns eager to advance, who range from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, 45, who ran briefly against Brown in the last governor's race, to state Attorney General Kamala Harris, 48, widely seen as another potential candidate for governor or senator.
Generational strains are already evident.
Rep. Pete Stark, 80, was dispatched this month by a fellow Democrat nearly 50 years his junior, Eric Swalwell. Stark, who has represented his San Francisco Bay area district since the waning years of the Vietnam War, was depicted in the campaign as a vestige of another era.
"There are going to be a lot of Democrats looking at that example," said veteran political strategist Garry South, referring to Stark's demise. South, who has advised Newsom, said party leaders gaining in years risk losing touch with younger voters in the rapidly diversifying state.
"We Democrats are supposed to be the party of youth and hope and change," South said. "At some point in time, these younger Democrats who are coming up the ranks are going to have to look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'Bide my time or take a shot at somebody?' Patience is not a virtue in politics."
Feinstein was re-elected in a landslide this month but her age — she turns 80 next year — attracted only glancing notice in a state where more than 40 percent of the population clocks in under 30.
She carried the vote among every age group, despite efforts by her 49-year-old opponent, Republican Elizabeth Emken, to suggest the senator was ready for the rocking chair. Next year the youngest senator, Connecticut's Chris Murphy, will be half her age.