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John Chiang jumps into California's 2018 governor's race

 (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

California Treasurer John Chiang has made it official: He's running for governor in 2018.

The Democrat made the announcement in a statement Tuesday morning.

"As your next Governor, I have a blueprint for expanding and renewing the California dream through fixing our crumbling infrastructure, making retirement security our generation's call to arms, and rebuilding California's middle class through better jobs and improved educational opportunities," Chiang said.

Chiang's political consultant, Parke Skelton, said the treasurer opened an official campaign account and will start raising money.

"It's a statewide governor's race, so it's going to be expensive," he said.

Right now, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the only other well-known California politician to officially jump into the governor's race . Newsom has been aggressively raising money and already has $5.4 million cash on hand.

Skelton said that Chiang has $3.2 million left over from his successful 2014 bid for treasurer and can transfer that money to his new campaign account for governor.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also has expressed an interest in running for governor, but the Democrat isn't expected to make a decision until the summer or fall.

Chiang, a Democrat from Torrance, has been elected to statewide office three times: twice as controller and as state treasurer in 2014.

He expects the 2018 governor's race to be very competitive, but said that his financial expertise as state treasurer and the former controller should give me an edge in these still uncertain-economic times.

"We can't have a brilliant future with an empty wallet," Chiang said.

The eldest son of Taiwanese immigrants, Chiang grew up in Chicago and New York and moved west after earning his law degree. He worked for then-Controller Gray Davis and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. In 1998, he won a seat on the Board of Equalization, which oversees the collection of tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. It was his first time in elected office.

Gov. Jerry Brown's historic fourth term in office ends in 2018, and he cannot run for reelection.

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