Tuesday, March 2, 2010
After months of waiting for a candidate of their own, California Democrats were anticipating an announcement Tuesday from state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is expected to enter the race for governor.
Brown's campaign issued a news release saying he planned to make a "major campaign announcement" Tuesday morning on his Web site, www.jerrybrown.org.
The former two-term governor has held to his own timeline and approach to politics as Republicans who are seeking their party's nomination have been campaigning for nearly a year.
If he announces as expected, Brown will become the party's presumed nominee in this year's governor's race because there are no other serious contenders in the Democratic primary. The candidate filing deadline is March 12.
Brown's entrance into the race would require that he start spelling out his vision for California and showing Democrats how he intends to reinvent himself for a new generation of voters.
Brown did not have any events scheduled Tuesday but was expected to speak to reporters on Wednesday.
"Stay tuned," campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said.
Brown, 71, argues that a seasoned politician is the only one who can cut through the political gridlock that has strangled Sacramento.
His legacy of public service and his family's political background - his father was governor from 1959 to 1967 and his sister was state treasurer from 1990 to 1994 - give Brown high name recognition in California and helped him edge out any other challengers without even formally entering the race.
It also has helped him raise $12 million, a sum that in normal circumstances would be robust for a candidate who faces no serious primary challenger. But Brown is likely to face a deep-pocketed Republican in the general election, regardless of who wins that party's nomination.
Front-runner Meg Whitman, the former eBay chief executive, has already given her campaign $39 million. State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has given his campaign $19 million.
Brown has largely refrained from outlining his positions on a host of issues facing the state, although he has said he will not support tax increases to help fill the $20 billion shortfall projected through June 2011.
Brown has devoted most of his life to politics. He was secretary of state before he ran for governor, made three attempts for the Democratic presidential nomination, ran for U.S. Senate in 1982 and served two years as state party chairman in the 1990s.
He was California's youngest governor when he was elected to his first term in 1974 and fascinated the nation with what at the time was considered peculiar behavior.
He refused to live in the newly built governor's mansion, choosing instead to live in a $250-a-month apartment, and opted to drive a modest blue Plymouth around the capital.
He famously dated singer Linda Ronstadt and was given the nickname "Governor Moonbeam" after he declared that California should deploy communications satellites into space. The well-known Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko gave him the name, but years later said he regretted doing so.
Brown has said that many of his ideas, considered outlandish then, were ahead of their time. California's term-limits law, approved by voters in 1992, does not apply to Brown because it was passed after his time in office.
While Brown is expected to be the Democrats' lone serious contender for the gubernatorial nomination, his relationship with the Democratic Party has not always been harmonious. He often clashed with party officials during his three bids for the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1976, 1980 and 1992.
After leaving politics for years, he reinvented himself as the tough-on-crime, pro-development mayor of Oakland, serving two terms before returning to statewide office as attorney general in 2006.
A bachelor most of his adult life, Brown married in 2005. His wife, former Gap Inc. general counsel Anne Gust Brown, is one of his main confidants for campaign strategy.