Jerry Brown Announces Run For California Governor

California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the presumptive Democratic candidate in the California governor's race, made it official Tuesday. Brown declared his candidacy for his party's nomination. At 71, he would be the nation's oldest governor and the only candidate who's already held the job for two terms.

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A political waiting game ended today in California. It's now official. Democrat Jerry Brown wants his old job back. He says he will run for governor. Brown turns 72 next month and he would be the nation's oldest governor.

As NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports, Brown used his Web site to announce his candidacy.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: In California politics, no face is more familiar, yet he still felt the need to introduce himself.

Mr. JERRY BROWN (California Attorney General): Hi, I'm Jerry Brown, your attorney general.

BATES: Attorney General Brown explained that he is hoping with voters' help to become Governor Brown one more time in November because California is drowning in debt and paralyzed by political gridlock.

Mr. BROWN: We need to work together as Californians first. And at this stage of my life, I'm prepared to focus on nothing else, but fixing the state I love.

BATES: Brown's emphasis on his past experience as governor might appeal to some voters, says Carla Marinucci, senior political writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ms. CARLA MARINUCCI (Senior Political Writer, San Francisco Chronicle): Jerry Brown is saying, I've been there, I've done it and maybe I know the very, very dangerous terrain more than any other politician.

BATES: Marinucci says the fact that Brown has been there, done that means he knows the players in Sacramento and the way state government works. And he is not afraid to alienate intransigent lawmakers if he needs to get things done.

Ms. MARINUCCI: He's also said he has no future political aspirations. So, maybe he has nothing to lose in coming in there and doing the job.

BATES: Brown's Republican opponents say that's not enough. Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and Steve Poizner, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, have poured millions of their own money into a campaign for the governor seat. Dan Schnur, a political analyst at the University of Southern California says the choice voters face is quite pronounced.

Mr. DAN SCHNUR (Political Analyst, University of Southern California): The challenge in this governor's race is a very experienced candidate in Jerry Brown, someone who's been involved in state and national politics for four decades now, is running on one side and either Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner, who comes out of the business communities running on the other.

BATES: After more than four decades in California politics, Jerry Brown is in some ways the ultimate insider, but not completely, which he eluded to in today's announcement.

Mr. BROWN: What we need is not a scripted plan, cooked up by consultants or mere ambition to be governor. We need someone with insider's knowledge, but an outsider's mind.

BATES: Brown never fit the traditional political mold. He's a former Catholic seminary student who studied Buddhism, volunteered with Mother Teresa and dated rock star Linda Ronstadt. When he was first elected in 1975, Brown refused to live in the governor's mansion and slept instead on the floor of a rented one bedroom apartment. He declined the car and driver the state traditionally provides and drove himself in a beat-up Plymouth sedan. The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci says that low cost approach might appeal to California's financially strapped voters.

Ms. MARINUCCI: But I think he's banking that in this era of Wall Street excess, maybe the voters just want lean and mean, and want somebody who is incredibly cheap with his own money.

BATES: And more importantly, the state's remaining dollars.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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