Brown on possible gubernatorial run: 'Stay tuned'

Legal News Line Aug. 18, 2008, 12:24pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown has two words for those waiting for him to decide if he will run to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010: "Stay tuned."

Brown told Legal Newsline on Friday that he could not yet comment about his plans, despite months of speculation in the Golden State about the former two-term governor returning to office as an elder statesman.

Brown will be 72 in 2010. He first won office in 1974 as a young, Democratic up-and-comer.

Brown said his actions are speaking louder than his words on the subject, at least for now.

"I am raising money," Brown said, "for my attorney general campaign account, which is consistent with a run for governor. It's not inconsistent."

For months polls and political insiders alike have said that Brown would be the favorite in a crowded Democratic field if he jumped into the race. Speculation heightened in late June when Brown raised nearly a million dollars, far more than he would need to launch a successful bid to remain attorney general in 2010.

But a July poll by a respected Sacramento pollster found Brown's front-runner status would be overwhelmed if U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein decided to run.

In a hypothetical three-way race between Brown, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who formally announced his candidacy two weeks ago, and Feinstein, about half the 650 registered voters polled picked Feinstein. Brown received about 25 percent and Garamendi only 10 percent.

Feinstein, who lost her only bid for governor in 1990, spoke openly during a recent interview about her desire to be closer to home and to make a lasting impact on her home state, but she said she would not announce her intentions until January of 2009 at the earliest.

Brown wasn't interested in fielding further questions about his possible candidacy, Feinstein's or any other candidate for that matter.

"You'll have to stay tuned," he said.

Because of Feinstein's star power in the state, many assume that all other potential candidates, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would step aside if Feinstein runs.

Newsom set up an exploratory committee to begin raising money for the governor's race, but has not yet announced. Villaraigosa must first win re-election as mayor.

Garamendi is in regardless of the moves of Brown and Feinstein. Like the two 70-something candidates - Feinstein would be 77 in 2010 - Garamendi is also a veteran of statewide politics and governor races.

Garamendi has run three times for governor, the first time 26 years ago. His extensive experience includes many years as a state legislator, eight as insurance commissioner and three years in President Clinton's administration, prior to his current post.

"I know how to bring people to the table and solve problems," Garamendi said when announcing his candidacy.

Statewide name recognition is critical in the vast state of California, Tony Quinn, a California political analyst, told LNL.

"In order to get elected you need to hold statewide office," Quinn said. "The state is so huge, and running in Southern California and all those cities down there, if you are just a mayor, either in San Francisco, or even in Los Angeles, you have a small base."

Quinn pointed out that the only two governors in recent history to win an election without first holding statewide office were actors - current Gov. Schwarzenegger and President Ronald Reagan, who held the post prior to Brown's first term in office.

Schwarzenegger is prohibited from seeking re-election because of term limits, but Brown held office before the law was enacted, thus allowing him to run in 2010.

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