March 1st, 2010
05:06 PM ET
4 years ago

Brown to announce gubernatorial bid Tuesday

(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


Filed under: California • Jerry Brown • Popular Posts
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Jason

    California Uber Alles

    March 1, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. single mom

    I'm in CA and the place is a disaster bordering on catastrophe because no one has a clue as to how to create a budget and stick to it. Brown was part of creating this situation and now he's going to 'fix' it? One too many light-ups, Jerry.

    Like Four and the Door said – Meg Whitman is looking like the best chance we have of getting out of this mess.

    March 1, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  3. GeoffW

    People's memories are so short! Governor "moonbeam" has taken just about every side of every issue during his long and wildly inconsistent career. He is the ultimate career politician that looks and sounds great until you really listen to his words. He is NOT what California needs today.

    March 1, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Bob Loblaw

    CEOs do not make good Governors. they are used to issuing decrees and getting their way, They are not good a managing systems that do not comply with their every wish.

    Meg Whitman, just like Schwarzenegger before her, will go to Sacramento and get her head handed to her on a plate.

    CEO and governor require two very different skill sets.

    March 1, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. CB

    I support Meg Whitman. Jerry Brown has already been governor. Whitman is more impressive than Jerry Brown and certainly more impressive than the incumbent, Arnold Schwarzenegger. All Americans care about California and its future. Meg Whitman can put the state on the right course.

    March 1, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  6. Archives

    Yeah, fabu glamour Geffen endorsement. Can't wait for the backroom fundraiser party where they can light up a bonfire to burn babies.
    Care to check out the photos?

    March 1, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  7. Jack

    Run Jerry Run! Save California from the TYRANNY of an Oligarchy under Meg Whitman.

    March 1, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. Glenn K

    With this guy's association with CARB there is no way he should be voted in for anything.

    March 1, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. Edwin

    @Four and The Door,

    Why do you think experience as a governor is a bad thing, when it comes to governing? Do you somehow think the job is EVIL and corrupts all who take it?

    I would rather choose someone who knows the ins and outs of governmental bureaucracy (which ARE different from those in the corporate world) than someone who doesn't.

    Jerry Brown? He has baggage, to be sure. But being against him because he has experience is, at best, silly, and at worst, stupid.

    March 1, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Jack

    Moonbeam! Alright!

    Will Linda and the Stone Ponies come with him?

    You just have to love California, the most disfunctional state in the World.

    March 1, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. Rich

    All I hear from Whitman is more of the same, cut spending and she blames it all on union pensions , I say cut the fat in government saleries of elected officals, cut all perks and perdiems , drive your own car check their retierment accounts and see what comes from that, same ol BS

    Jerry Brown will at least be able to hit tyhe ground running not take a year for any plan of Megs to take hold

    March 1, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. Daniel Jones

    Jerry Brown was probably the best Governor of California in the last 60 years, with the possible exception of his father "Pat" Brown. He is not tied to any particular political doctrine and doesn't follow in lockstep any party line. He is a true original thinker. He tries to find what works and he solves intractable problems. No one is 100% but I believe Brown would be far better at leading California than a corporate dictator like Meg Whitman.

    I lived in Alabama when George Wallace was governor, in Texas under George W. Bush, in Mississippi under Haley Barbour, and in California during Jerry Brown's administrations. Brown nurtured education, the environment and public services (fire, police, libraries), promoted civil discourse, and overcame his own limits as to background and personal prejudices much better than the other three combined.

    March 1, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Maybe he could get back together with Linda Ronstadt, she would make a lovely first lady! As for the bong, its a shame more of our elected officials don't partake.

    March 1, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. moronic

    Sure, and if Meg gets elected she will steal our money just like she did at paypal. No thanks, I'd rather have a stoned Brown than a thief in office.

    March 1, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. Doc

    36 plus million people in the state and we can't find someone out there with fresh ideas? I think you should talk this over with Linda Ronstadt first. I listened as Linda was interviewed on N.P.R. a couple of years ago. See's one sharp gal. Think about Jerry. Or is she still tired of your same old moves?

    March 1, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  16. Anthony R. Ravenell

    Jerry Brown another failed run for Govenor! Dude, a man must know his limitations! What California needs right now is someone with some common sense and can speak English coherently. No "Girly Men" who will run the state any more fiscally into the ground than it already is!

    March 1, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. Carl

    As much as I hate to say it, Brown is California's best shot at the moment. If Meg Whitman could go in there and fire the legislature, that'd be great. But governors and CEOs don't have the same kind of authority. For better or worse (mostly for worse) political power in California moves by certain levers, and Brown knows how the machine works from his first day in office. Schwarzennegger and Obama are two examples of people who were supposed to change things because they were outsiders. In reality it doesn't work out quite that way.

    March 1, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. Democrat

    Wow, you would think republications would have better things to do then troll news articles and leave comments. It's apperent you aren't Democrats and use any sorce you can to trash talk. Get lives please!

    March 1, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Chuck Anaheim Ca.

    Alright Jerry! You got my support over the greedy corporatists being planted in the election by the republicant party.

    March 1, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. umi

    its crazy to think that because a person was a CEO that they would make a good politician. I would think that Bush was a good example of how a CEO president can be. Politics and Business are like oil and vinegar, they just don't mix

    March 1, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Bill Angus

    California is in a difficult spot financially. So perhaps the smartest thing Californians could do would be to vote for someone who is fiscally savvy and then allow the person to lead. The state has high taxes already, and the electorate has steadfastly refused to mandate more taxation or to accept gross service cuts. Perhaps Brown is up to fixing the state budget. But whoever gets the job has my sympathy and sincerest wishes for success whether it be Brown or Whitman or Poinzer or ... ?

    March 1, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  22. Alvin and the chipmunks

    No to Witless,we have enough corporate fascist REPUBLICANS.

    March 1, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Go Jerry! I support you 110%. Nice to see an old friend back and remind Californians of better days. Turns out all you neo-Confederates were wrong about Brown...he was and still is a visionary that believes in technology and keeping California as the nation's leader.

    March 1, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  24. ktaylor

    In what way were they disastrous, Rick? He had nothing to do with Prop 13, the energy crisis of the 70s, or anything close to the disasters of recent decades.
    CA needs someone who knows how to make government work, and who doesn't treat public service like a product or a business. Running an enormous state government is NOT like running a business! Let Meg excell at what she does and make kabillions. She won't survive being a governor; the business experience she has is only a tiny part of running a state government. We can't afford another trainee.

    March 1, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  25. Bill

    Just what CA. needs...Jerry Brown redux. He was bad the first time and the old leopard doesn't change his spots. Useless at every level he has served. Sucking at the public nipple for his entire life except for a short stint in the seminary...I wonder what kind of priest he would have made?

    March 1, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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