Brown announces fundraising prowess

Legal News Line Feb. 2, 2009, 12:14pm

Jerry Brown (D)

John Garamendi (D)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - It will be well over a year before the 2010 candidates for governor fight for primary votes, but the fight for donor dollars is in full swing.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown ended January with an announcement that he raised $3.4 million in 2008 for an expected run for governor in 2010. His totals dwarfed those of his two declared Democratic rivals, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, both of whom reported having raised just over a million in 2008.

Likewise, the attorney general's cash on hand in his ambiguous Brown 2010 account -- which can be used for a governor's race or to seek re-election to attorney general -- is $4.1 million. Neither Garmendi nor Newsom have more than $750,000 in cash.

While Brown has not yet publicly announced his intention to run, he has done nothing to discourage talk of his candidacy. In an earlier interview with Legal Newsline, Brown said his fundraising certainly was consistent with a run for governor.

Brown's largesse, however, is just the beginning in what will be a long and expensive battle to replace termed out Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2006, the two top Democratic contenders spent a combined $68 million in the Democratic primary alone, according to published reports.

Also, several well-heeled competitors could enter the race. While Garamendi has already announced and Newsom formed an exploratory committee that allows him to raise money, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer has roughly $10 million stashed in his campaign account, should he decide to run for governor.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Westley, who ran and lost the Democratic primary in 2006, has plenty of his own money to fund a race should he decide to run again. He spent more than $35 million of his own money in 2006.

But the money issue is threatening the ambition of one potential contender. State Superintendent of Public Schools Jack O'Connell told one state newspaper that he'd like to run but the cost is prohibitive.

"We're trying to put it together for governor, but it's regrettable that it's so costly and expensive and I'm not a millionaire," O'Connell said last week.

Garamendi attended the January inauguration for President Barack Obama and actively worked the powers of the Democratic Party for support. Following the events, he announced he had formed a national fundraising campaign that would soon elevate his financial profile.

Garamendi, one of the first candidates to openly support Obama, could most benefit from the President's popularity, not to mention his donors as the race moves ahead in 2009.

This campaign will be Brown's 12th in a political career that spans four decades. He served as governor twice from 1975-1983 and launched three unsuccessful attempts to run for President of the United States. He served as mayor of Oakland for six years prior to becoming the attorney general.

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