(CNN) – California Attorney General Jerry Brown plans to announce Tuesday that he's entering the race to be his state's next governor, three sources confirm to CNN.
If elected, this would be the second time around for Brown, who served two terms as California Governor from 1975-1983. Already Brown has amassed at least a $12 million dollar war chest and he has attracted the support of big Hollywood kingmakers; David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg are among those who have publicly endorsed him. So far no other big name Democrats are in the race; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, once presumed to be Brown's fiercest primary opponent, dropped out of the contest last October.
The most recent surveys of California voters, conducted in mid-January by the Public Policy Institute and the Field Poll, indicate Brown leading the top Republican candidates – besting Meg Whitman by 5 to 10 points; and topping State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by 15 to 17 points.
One top Democratic donor who was torn between backing Brown and former eBay CEO Whitman tells CNN," this is not the time in California's history to have someone who has never served in Government deal with our problems." This would be Whitman's first time in public office; both she and Poinzer are pouring tens of millions of dollars from their own fortunes into their races.
When Brown left office the first time, he was a controversial figure. He was California's youngest governor since the turn of the 20th century and the son of former two-term Gov. Pat Brown. He also gained national attention for dating Linda Ronstadt and sleeping on a futon in an apartment to save money on staffing the governor's mansion. He earned the nickname Governor Moonbeam after he proposed buying space on a satellite to enhance state communications in the event of an emergency; that's now common practice and the former Governor insists he's vindicated.
In an interview with CNN conducted last year Brown said he was ahead of his time in other areas as well: promoting alternative energy production, encouraging diversity in government hiring, and reigning in government spending. Brown said he's not surprised he was mocked, telling CNN: "There's a certain regression to the mean in politics. Things tend to mediocrity," and adding that his policies "in a very dramatic and forceful way set the pace for the whole country."
He hopes to do the same now. Brown has run for President, studied Buddhism, traveled with Mother Theresa, and served two terms as Mayor of Oakland. He still retains some of his 1970s consciousness-raising way of thinking. When asked how he would solve California's debilitating budget gap and its ongoing legislative gridlock he said the answer is "a collective learning by the state."
While Republican Meg Whitman is proposing a state constitutional convention to fix their legislative mess, Brown tends to the abstract.
He told CNN: "If we don't forge this creative consensus, California will deteriorate and it'll just be the beginning of a larger deterioration in our country. I can contribute in a positive way of getting to this more enlightened state, this more accommodating, collaborative, state of representation."
Also in the race? Actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt says he's running as an independent. Von Anhalt gained national notoriety when he claimed paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.
–CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story
California is in the midst of its worst financial crisis, and the leading Democrat is Jerry Brown?!? How pathetic is that?!?
The state's biggest problem comes from the influence of entrenched career politicians. Brown has held nearly every statewide office. He's never had to get a real job; meet a payroll or manage a family budget.
Don't know much about Meg Whitman; perhaps California needs someone with real world experiences to take on this tax and spend legislature. Voted for Brown back when I was in college. It's time to move on to someone (something) else.
Californias problems are so easy to solve. Just tax the marijuana that you let people have for free. it can solve your deficit problem quickly.
Things couldn't get much worse than they are right now in California and look who is making it even worse. The Arnold. Jerry Brown would be an excellent governor. He is very much aware of what California needs and it's not a movie star ruining it.
Jerry did a fine job as governor in the '70's. I remember. I lived here at the time. Jerry is just what we need, to get this state out of its financial mess. If he had another Republican elected, it will just mean more tax breaks for the Rich, and no help for the poor and needy.
I say re-elect Jerry, Gov. Moonbeam. You will be welcome by a majority of Californians =)
Rick McDaniel must be really old. To say that the Jerry Brown of today is identical to the Jerry Brown of the 70's means that Rick McDaniel is also an idiot. We dare not ask how Brown's fiscal policies fared in the city of Oakland, for that would be asking a relevant question which would therefore risk the wrath and fury of Rick McDaniel.
Now's the time for the woman who ruined E-bay to ruin California, too! Join Meg in her campaign to ship jobs overseas!