Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Sunday, February 7, 2010

(02-06) 17:27 PST San Francisco — He still won’t call himself a candidate for governor, but he’s sure talking like one.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown swung by a gathering of young Democrats in San Francisco Saturday, where he preached the importance of environmental protections and building the state’s green industry, touted his record as the state’s top cop, stressed the importance of overhauling the state’s criminal justice system, and took a couple swipes at Meg Whitman, the race’s Republican front-runner.

What Brown wouldn’t say: When he will officially enter the governor’s race, despite the fact that he’s the only serious Democratic contender. The filing deadline for candidates to appear on the June ballot is March 12, something Brown said he is keenly aware of.

“The election is in November so I don’t want to jump the gun,” he told reporters. “This is an endurance contest, you don’t get it done in a day. … Between now and November, people are going to get a chance to hear from various candidates, so I think March or maybe late February is plenty of time, and in many respects people get tired of the candidates, so I don’t want to start that fatigue process too soon.”

Brown later noted that he’s raised $13 million, an amount he says surpasses his fundraising efforts for previous races.

Speaking to a room full of Democrats – many of whom were not even born, he noted, the last time he was governor – Brown stressed the need to change how things are done in Sacramento. He also took aim at the growing chorus calling for the suspension of the state’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, a move Whitman has endorsed. Brown said the way to create “tens of thousands of jobs,” reboot the state’s economy and see more tax dollars flowing into state coffers is by investing in green technologies and clean fuel.

“People are saying … ‘Forget about the environment, we’ve got to just give up all the lessons we’ve learned over the past 30 years,'” he said. “Well, I think that’s wrong. We’ve got to protect the environment and have to create jobs that are consistent with long term economic prosperity, not the quick fix.”

Brown also weighed in on the recent Massachusetts election upset – in which Democrats lost a seat they had held for decades to Republican Scott Brown, who campaigned around the state in his pickup truck – calling it an “anomaly.”

To read entire story, click here.