California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown is expected to formally announce Tuesday morning that he is running for governor, a job he last held nearly three decades ago.
Brown, 71, an Oakland Democrat who faces no serious primary election opposition, is expected to make his announcement online. His aides said he would make a “major campaign announcement” at 11 a.m. via his website, www.jerrybrown.org.
Brown spent eight years as California’s governor, from 1975 until 1983, but is eligible to hold the office again because today’s two-term limit was not in effect when he first occupied the Capitol.
The enigmatic figure whose father, Pat Brown, also served two terms as governor, is seeking to regain the job near the end of a long political career.
He has won election as secretary of state, was Oakland’s mayor for eight years and has held his current post since 2007. Brown also waged three failed presidential runs and lost a bid for U.S. Senate to Pete Wilson, who later became governor. Brown has also served as the California Democratic Party chairman.
One by one, other Democrats seen as possible contenders for the governorship this year took themselves out of contention. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom launched a bid but dropped out in October. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced last year that he would not run, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last month did the same.
Though he had been plotting a run for two years, Brown had long resisted making it official while two would-be Republican contenders -- former EBay chief Meg Whitman and California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner -- battle for their party’s nomination. In recent months, some Democratic Party activists had become increasingly nervous that Brown had yet to start his campaign.
The winner of the GOP primary contest in June will have substantial personal wealth. So Democrats have launched several political committees independent of Brown’s campaign that are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money to battle the Republican victor.
Though Brown has enjoyed an edge in polls over both Whitman and Poizner, Whitman has closed the gap after months of advertising on radio and, more recently, on prime-time television.
A major question for Brown will be how voters look upon his years in office and his political pedigree. He is certain to portray himself as the veteran who can stabilize a shaky state government, and neither Whitman, a newcomer to politics, nor Poizner, who is in his fourth year in office, can match his experience.
If Californians see Brown as someone who has taken part in building a broken system, as Republicans are likely to portray him, his background could become a liability.
For the latest on California politics, go to www.latimes .com/californiapolitics.