(CNN) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown jumped into the race for the state's next governor Tuesday, saying "we need someone with insider's knowledge but an outsider's mind" to help solve its problems.
In a video message posted on his Web site, Brown said, "Our state is in serious trouble, and the next governor must have the preparation and the knowledge and the know how to get California working again."
If elected, this would be the second time around for Brown, who served two terms as California Governor from 1975-1983. Brown has already 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, indicated 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.
Even before his official announcement was posted, Whitman's campaign was already on the attack questioning Brown's fiscal skills in his previous jobs.
When Brown left the governor's 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 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. He says he's running as an independent. Von Anhalt gained national notoriety when he claimed paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.
–CNN's Kevin Bohn and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story
This is good news.
Great.......just what we need, another term with Gov. Moon Beam. Wake up California, we have had enough of this tax and spend Liberal. But the entitlement state of California will easily elect him so they can continue on with their freebies. More tax paying citizens will leave this already bankrupt state with too high of taxes to avoid even higher taxes.
Hollywood is backing him...........that should tell you everything you need to know..........don't vote for Brown. Why aren't term limits permanent?
Alright, way to go Brown.
One thing Republicans don't get thru their thick heads is that the government is NOT a business. You can NOT run a government like a business.
Business has only one goal in mind, TO MAKE MORE MONEY AT ANY COST.
Government is a nonprofit organization, it is not meant to make profit but provide services for the people who pay taxes. Period.
Why don't you dumb Republicans get this thru your heads.
Police departments are non profit
Fire departments are non profit
Public schools are non profit
Military (the actual service men and women) is non profit
Medical care should be non profit
Any "NEED" should be NON PROFIT
Any "WANT" should be for profit because its a luxury, schools are not a luxury, medical care is not a luxury, firefighters are not a luxury, Police is not a luxury, military is not a luxury...
Get it thru your thick skulls you crazy Republicans, or you'll end up paying a heck of a lot more for all these things thru things called premiums...(AKA insurance companies)
What a great fit.
The Biggest Nut leading a state of nuts!!
Best of Luck
I live in CA. I'm with you Mr. Brown.
Must be they have all forgotten the last time.
In the election for state governor I would like to see and hear what each candidate stands for and what they will do for California, not as has already started negative campaigning smearing the opposition. Any candidate who engages in negative campaigning should be crossed off the list. People want to know what are YOU going to do.
Jerry Brown to the rescue huh.
It's because of people like Brown that California is in the mess it is in today. You think all of that happened overnight?
Jerry will win. Make no mistake about it, he's absolutely bat guano crazy, but he's still far better than the two millionaire/billionaire Republican candidates. Prince Frederic von Anhalt would make a better Governor than Ms. "Never bothered voting, even for John McCain whose campaign I was running in California" Whitman.
Governor Moonbeam is back! I liked him the first time around. California could do a lot worse than to put him back in the governor's mansion. Maybe he can straighten things out.
He was a good governer, a good mayor of Oakland, and a good attorney general. He will again be a good governer.
No, please NO, not another term with this fool. California cannot afford Governor Moon Beam again!
What's wrong with having someone who is very smart as governor? Look what we got in the white house and we are still surviving somehow.
I have been around long enough to remember the mess Jerry Brown made of the California budget.
I don't see how people there can ask for a second round of that level of irresponsible management.
Go Jerry, Go! As a Californian I'm looking forward to contributing and voting for him. I just hope the Republican party doesn't decide to hijack the governors mansion like it did the last time. Remember Gray Davis, they said he was fiscally irresponsible and put Schwartzenager in. How we doing under him California?
Is Governor Moonbeam going to be a better option than Gavin Help Me Advance to My Next Career Newsom? Doubtful.
Moon beam is back!
Will Linda Ronstadt be skating in the Governor's mansion once again?
Beam me up Scotty!!
California doesn't need another liberal tax and spend governor. We need to cut spending, cut entitlements and eventually cut taxes. Please! Brown would be a disaster.
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."
Meg Whitman said she would eliminate some of the more than 300 commissions spread around the state and many of the thousands of appointees that the govornor gets to choose. She would also take better advantage of technology to make the state run more efficiently.
I'll vote for that rather than "...collective learning." What we don't need is another career politician with a nebulous set of ideas.
Jerry – please keep your HAT on. The glare is too much!
Yes Jerry was and still is ahead of his time. California needs a real leader, not just some billionaire elitist. We need an aggressive vision to bring CA back as the nation's leader of technology and innovation via green renewable energy.