Brown 'cautious' about entering Calif. governor's race

Chris Rizo Jul. 29, 2009, 7:13am

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)- California Attorney General Jerry Brown says he is trying to be "thoughtful" about his possible run for governor.

Speaking to the annual meeting of Public Justice, the Democratic attorney general and former governor and U.S. presidential hopeful said the Golden State's next chief executive has a herculean task before him and he wants to be sure he is able to deliver.

"I am trying to be cautious; I am trying to be thoughtful," Brown said Monday, explaining that he has not decided whether he will run for governor in 2010.

So far, the only declared Democratic candidate for governor is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. On the Republican side, former eBay executive Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell are considering runs.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is unable to seek reelection because of term limits. Brown, who was California governor from 1975 to 1983, held office before the term limits law was enacted, thus allowing him to run in next June's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Brown was the mayor of Oakland, Calif., from 1998 to 2006, before being elected as the state's chief legal officer in 2007. Brown unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nominations for U.S. president in 1976, 1980, and 1992.

On the financial crises the state grapples with regularly, Brown said it is going to take coalition-building and political compromise to make any meaningful progress.

"You've got to create an engagement where you get people thinking about how we're going to deal with the state because it is breaking down in infrastructure and in the schoolroom, and where do we get the money?" Brown said.

He added it is going to take a "significant group" behind any government overhaul, and it will likely have to go to voters for approval and shifting some responsibility to local government.

"You've got to get some Republicans involved, you have to get some business people, you have to get labor," Brown said. "I think you have to restructure the tax system."

On his possible run for governor, Brown said he wants to make sure he can turn the state around if he is elected.

"Quite frankly, one of the reasons that I haven't jumped into the race for governor is that I really want to think about this: What's possible? What's the pathway to make it all happen?" Brown said.

"It's going to take some very eloquent diplomacy and political leadership to put this state back on an even keel because it is definitely sinking and we can't go on the way we are."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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