March 1st, 2010
05:06 PM ET
5 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. Brandon

    @ Four and The Door:

    California has too many managers already. The solution is not to add another. Also, as is clear already from Meg Witless' propensity to throw tons of money at her campaign, she can't be trusted with her claimed desire to cut government spending. Maybe she should get her own house in order before tackling the state's crisis?

    And she's not an "expert" at anything except self-promotion. She didn't do anything at eBay that any MBA couldn't have done. It's pretty easy to ride the wave to the top during a tech boom, especially when you have a virtual monopoly. Guess what happened after the boom? Oh yeah, that's right, she left eBay. Her failure to innovate and bad business decisions (buying Skype?! How stupid. . .) finally caught up with her.

    March 1, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Lee

    Jerry Brown was one of the states best governors. He was fiscally responsible and was able to work with the state legislature. And without that the state is doomed. Yes, he is eccentric. He tends to communicate in abstract terms. And he irks the conservatives in California. But, the majority of Californians are Democrats and the legislature is primarily democrats. We allowed a rich Republican (Daryl Issa) to overturn the election of Gray Davis based on his stance over Auto Registration hikes. Turns out Gray was right. Had we followed his plans California wouldn't be in the financial mess its in now. Unless of course you think Arnold has been a good Governor. As for Meg Whitman. You have to hand it to her. She's got an outstanding resume in the corporate world. But she has absolutely zero experience in government. None. And for all her pontificating on how she would get things done she would still have to deal with the legislature. And that takes a politician. The governor of California is powerless without the support of the legislators. And you can't sell them or buy them on EBay!

    March 1, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Santa Barbara

    I am really happy that Brown is running because everything about Whitman is wrong. The last thing we need is someone to buy their way to the Govenor's office. She has not got a clue how to run government. We just had a GOP Governor and look where that got us.

    March 1, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. john hall

    Whitman is frankly a pig. Her out of touch welfare ad's remind me of Marie Antoinette's " let them eat cake ", especially in this jobless recovery. She's despised by the cube workers at ebay and just 'happened' to get rich by screwing everyone over (look at ebay seller dissatisfaction on google). She's politically out of touch and I can't think of anyone running for office that just doesn't get it more than her. I like Jerry Brown and I think he's got his head screwed on straight this time. He can't be any worse than where we are.

    March 1, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. Keep Dreamin' GOP

    Really Rick?... Really? Brown had a $5 Billion surplus as governor. C'mon. Are you one of those guys like George W. Bush who thought a surplus equaled fiscal irresponsibility?

    March 1, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Ron Richards

    Welcome back, Jerry. You've got my vote!

    March 1, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Al

    OMG! Nightmare on Elm Street number 2!!

    Sure. Let's bring back a career politician with a history of cowering to the unions. Meg Whitman can run circles around Jerry Brown and that's exactly what California needs right now – a problem solver.

    We've had decades of "career politicians" and look what that's gotten us.

    March 1, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. Rob W.

    Gotta love Meg Whitman's "wait and see" philosophy on climate change. Seriously? What a joke. That said, I'm no fan of Brown either. I wish Steve Jobs would run! Great manager, socially liberal, pro-business and pro-environment. We don't need a Republican ideologue like Whitman, especially one who prefers to stick her head in the sand on the most pressing issue facing the world today.

    March 1, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Stallion

    this guy is a nightmare....I really don't think it would be too difficult to remind the California voters off his piss poor performance and lack of true representation....it must be an ego thing on his part....a faulty ego that is.

    March 1, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. amt. CA

    Glad to have Jerry Brown back as Governor ! He was an outstanding Governor.& I definitely am hoping he runs for that office.

    March 1, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. Cindy-San Francisco

    Brown will win and Northern California will help him win.

    March 1, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  12. Cindy-San Francisco

    No CEOs for sure!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. Brian

    Brown's fiscal policies weren't the problem - it was Prop 13 that screwed everything up.

    March 1, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  14. Greybeard

    If California voters decide to vote for 'Moonbeam" Brown again they deserve the total fiscal collapse of California and bankruptcy.

    March 1, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  15. jeff, CA

    Say NO to Meg Whitman, a billionaire CEO. Her proposed budget cuts will devastate schools, libraries, health care services, and other public services that have been cut to the bone the last two years. She is more interested in protecting her fellow corporate CEOs and wealthy friends from a tax increase than keeping these vital services from collapsing.

    March 1, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  16. Batnit

    California will be our Greece x 10. Real unemployment stands at 25%, the temp job is the new full time job, and companies are using this recession to produce a lot more with less people. I work for website Storyburn and the mess that lands on our doorstep is crazy bad. We have the most read home foreclosure story on the web and plenty of job hunting stories

    March 1, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. David Ottson

    California's problems lay with the contracts that they are paying too much for. Prison guards, state workers retiremnet packages, Cal Trans contracts that are way to high. An Audit of all California Contracts is in order. The State should go Bankrupt, file capter 7 and renigotiate all of those contracts that are found to be to high.

    March 1, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. gschwartz

    Actually those of us who live in California have a very good memory of Brown's years, which were overwhelmingly successful for working people.

    And we have an equally good memory of the last seven years of a "non-career" politician Arnold Schwarzenegger whose inexperience and poor decision making have been a disaster. We don't need another failure in office, especially someone like Whitman whose promises to create jobs involve firing 40,000 more workers, just like she outsourced jobs as an uncaring corporate CEO.

    March 1, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Mike B.

    Brown is a weak candidate for CA, but so is Meg Whitman. While I agree that the state's problems require sound management, it's silly to assume that the kind of management that works in business will work in state government. it's a whole different animal.

    I'm waiting to see a real solid candidate get into this race - if we don't get one, the state might end up in even bigger trouble than it's already in.

    March 1, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Erin

    If it's Brown flush it down!

    March 1, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  21. Mark

    Brown would the final nail in California's coffin.

    March 1, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  22. j

    The Republicans are busy trying to BUY the governorship instead of earn it. I would rather vote for Newsom, but guess it will have to be Brown.

    March 1, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  23. Ross Bates

    As a former Californian, it drives me crazy when people rant about "the politicians." For almost 100 years, the state has had the initiative process to get around the politicians. For 15 years, the state has had term-limits to limit the politicians. And for the last 7 years, the Governor has been the ultimate non-politician. All of those so-called protections against politicians have been what has sunk California into the mess it's in.

    March 1, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  24. Danny

    I think NOW is the time to have a business person to get California back on track. Arnold let us all down. I say let Meg have a try!

    March 1, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. Brandon

    I am voting for Brown. Meg Whitman did not vote as an adult. NOW she wants people to vote for her. Just because she is a billionnaire does not mean SHE CAN BUY THE CALIFORNIA VOTERS.

    March 1, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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