Watch Jerry Brown's announcement video
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)- Democrat Jerry Brown officially entered the California governor's race Tuesday, giving the party an iconic candidate in a contest expected to be the most costly in state history.
The state attorney general, who served two terms as governor in the era before term limits, officially declared his candidacy on his Web site. The announcement has been expected for months, while Brown was quietly raising millions of dollars.
Brown, who will turn 72 next month, is the only serious Democratic contender. His ability to raise money and gain endorsements frightened away other Democrats, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
After the June primary, Brown will face of one of two wealthy Silicon Valley Republicans in the general election: former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a billionaire, or state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who also made nearly $1 billion as a high-tech entrepreneur.
Brown says only someone with a long political resume such as his has the experience to solve California's ongoing fiscal crisis and its many other problems, from the quality of its public schools to the neglect of its state park system.
"What we need is not a scripted plan cooked up by consultants or mere ambition to be governor," he said in his Web cast, taking an apparent shot at Whitman. "We need someone with insider's knowledge but an outsider's mind, a leader who can pull people together -- Republicans and Democrats, oil companies and environmentalists, unions and businesses. ... And at this stage in my life, I'm prepared to focus on nothing else but fixing this state I love."
Brown has frustrated his fellow Democrats for months while playing a wait-and-see game in the California governor's race. All the while, he was raising nearly $12 million for a gubernatorial campaign while lining up support from deep-pocketed unions, celebrities and other core Democratic supporters.
Without a challenger in the June primary, he has not had to campaign. In the meantime, two independent Democratic groups have emerged to fund an attack campaign against his Republican rivals, especially Whitman.
One, called Level the Playing Field 2010 Against Billionaire Meg Whitman for Governor, has started running radio commercials funded by unions representing nurses, teachers and painters. Another, the California Accountability Project is funded by the Democratic Governors Association and has begun targeting Whitman's corporate background.