Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
February 9, 2016 3:25 PM

  • Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom already running
  • Treasurer John Chiang ‘leaning strongly’
  • Antonio Villaraigosa, Steve Westly and Tom Steyer are in the mix

The 2016 political campaign season has scarcely begun, so of course it’s time to begin noodling about 2018 – and particularly the governorship that Jerry Brown will finally relinquish.

Five Democrats – all middle-aged men, interestingly – are emitting varying levels of vibration about running.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rose to political prominence as mayor of San Francisco and pulled back from seeking the governorship in 2010, is the only declared candidate. He’s busily raising money and trying to get as much media attention as his powerless office allows.

John Chiang, state controller before segueing into the state treasurer’s office in 2014, all but announced his candidacy on Tuesday, telling a group of business executives, in response to a question, that he’s “strongly leaning toward running,” and adding, “I’m almost there.”

Antonio Villaraigosa had a mixed record as mayor of Los Angeles and has been out of office for three years, but he is trying to maintain a presence by traveling the state on what he describes as an effort to educate himself about its issues.

Former Controller Steve Westly, who made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2006, has maintained a low public profile, but has been quietly talking to political insiders and interest groups about giving it another try. He has considerable personal wealth.

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has been trying to gain some attention not only on climate change but on gasoline prices and on income equality, about which he obviously has personal knowledge.

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