OAKLAND -- Gov. Jerry Brown filed his papers Friday to run for an unprecedented fourth term as California's governor and then declined to say that this campaign would be his last.
Asked by a reporter outside the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office if this was his final hurrah, Brown, 75, said: "I'm not going to say it's the last race."
Noting that he and his wife, Anne, were at Oakland City Hall on Thursday to collect petition signatures for his gubernatorial re-election campaign, Brown suggested that he could still run for Oakland mayor after he finishes his fourth term at age 80.
"I certainly enjoyed being mayor of Oakland," Brown said.
He led the city as mayor from 1999 to 2007 and then became California's attorney general from 2007 to 2011, when he was sworn in for his third term as governor.
For now, however, Brown said he's seeking re-election as governor "with humility and the realization that there's a great responsibility in the work that lies ahead." He said he intends to focus this year -- and if re-elected to his fourth term -- on maintaining a balanced budget with fiscal restraint and a healthy reserve fund.
"I am going to keep my eye on the ball and not repeat history," he said, citing previous governors who left office while the state's budget was in the red. "Frankly, I like the work. I understand it. ... I can make a contribution over the next four years."
He also said implementing the new local control funding formula for California's K-12 schools will be a priority, as will continuing to oversee the public-safety "realignment" that has transferred some responsibilities to counties to relieve pressure on overcrowded state prisons.
Asked about Republican challenger Neel Kashkari's campaign focus on jobs and education, Brown noted that the state has raised its minimum wage, expanded vocational education opportunities and created about a million jobs on his watch.
Brown said it would be premature to say whether he'll debate Kashkari or the other Republican challenger, conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly.
Brown, who served two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983, said Friday that he loved that tenure so much that he remained in the governor's office until midnight on the last day of his second term.
He's already the longest-serving governor in California's history. He was able to seek that third term because the state term-limits law was enacted after his first two terms.
Assuming the term limits aren't reversed sometime in the future, Brown will hold that record forever -- unless former Gov. George Deukmejian, 85, decides to come out of retirement and run for two more terms as well.