Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jerry Brown: California needs a governor with knowledge

From Today's Sac Bee:

Published Tuesday, Mar. 02, 2010

Attorney General Jerry Brown made it official this morning that he's running for California governor, putting to rest months of speculation about his political intentions.

Brown, who served two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983, said in an online video posted on his Web site, "At this stage of my life, I'm prepared to focus on nothing else but fixing this state I love."

He pledged in the video that under his leadership, "there will be no new taxes unless you the people vote for them."

He also said the state could not take a risk on "an outsider who knows virtually nothing about state government.'

"We've tried that, and it doesn't work," Brown said. "We've found that not knowing is not good."

Brown does not have any scheduled public events today.

Brown will likely be the sole Democratic nominee and will face one of two wealthy, largely self-financed Republican candidates, Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner. Candidates for governor have until March 12 to file with the Secretary of State's office.

For months, Brown has avoided taking explicit positions on major issues such as the state's budget crisis, prisons or schools, arguing that he was not yet a candidate.

With today's announcement, Brown must start filling in the blanks with voters, said Democratic strategist Andrew Acosta, whose business partner Roger Salazar is helping to run an independent expenditure committee targeting Whitman and other Republicans.

"At some point, voters are going to want to know the vision that Jerry Brown has for the state moving forward," Acosta said. "Jerry Brown still conjures up a lot of images in the past because of his (history) in public office. This is an opportunity for him to articulate that."

Brown has revealed his views on some issues in recent months, such as saying tax increases are not politically feasible and supporting AB 32, which commits the state to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown claims a 40-year political career in California, having served as California secretary of state, governor, California Democratic Party chairman, mayor of Oakland and attorney general. He's also run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate and president.

The 71-year-old enters a race that's already costing tens of millions of dollars, with the Whitman campaign saying she's prepared to spend up to $150 million of her personal wealth on the race.

Poizner, the current state insurance commissioner, has also put in $19 million of his own money into his campaign.

Brown's announcement caps a long-in-the-works political comeback after his career flamed out after his unsuccessful 1992 presidential run.

Brown retrenched in the mid-1990s, hosting a talk show on liberal radio network Pacifica and running a political action and spirituality center out of his warehouse loft near Oakland's Jack London Square.

He re-entered the public sphere in 1998 by winning election as mayor of Oakland and serving two terms there. Brown was elected attorney general in 2006.

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