New California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
New California Attorney General Jerry Brown. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
SACRAMENTO — Given 25-1 odds in the Capitol that he'll run for governor in 2010 — attorney general-elect Jerry Brown refused to rule the move out — or in — but expects to be a powerful, key senior statesman-adviser to California's novice bosses.

The attitude might backfire with younger politicians and the public, analysts warned.

Brown said in an interview that "given the fact that my experience is much greater than most of the politicians in Sacramento, that gives me a unique opportunity to offer some leadership and guidance and play a very important role."

"I know more about the governor's office than anybody else wandering around here," said Brown, a Democrat who served two terms before voter-imposed term limits.

"Whether you like him or not, Jerry Brown is by far the most experienced figure in state politics," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. "Brown (68) was in statewide office when Assembly SpeakerFabian Nez (D-Los Angeles) was in preschool."

"Indeed, Jerry Brown and (Gov.) Arnold Schwarzenegger can learn from each other," said David McCuan, a political science professor at California State University, Sonoma.

There's a downside, though, said retired Associated Press Bureau Chief Doug Willis, who covered Brown as governor: "There will be plenty of people waiting to rechristen 'Governor Moonbeam' as 'Attorney General Moonbeam.'"

Terry Christensen, a political science professor at San Jose State University, said "our leaders in Sacramento are not known for their deference to seniority."

Fellow politicians and analysts are divided over whether Brown will seek re-election as attorney general; a second, unprecedented stint as governor; run for U.S. Senate; or even seek an appointment to the state Supreme Court.

Democratic operative Steve Maviglio posted the odds for Brown and others' gubernatorial bids in four years, when Schwarzenegger is termed out, on a new party Web site.

In reaction, the Oakland mayor discounted the idea: "My focus is on the attorney general's office."

But, Brown added, "On down the road, who knows, I wouldn't even want to speculate. ... I could say absolutely whatever. ... Who knows?"

"Are you going to go try to get a better job? If your boss asked you that, you wouldn't want to say, 'Yeah, if I can get a better job, get better pay, more prestige, yeah, I'm outta here.' People have ambition but I think it's a little silly to be talking about that a few days after the election."

"It's just beginning and people can speculate all they want, but that's all I'm going to say."

Pitney responded, "Why not run? He missed being the state's youngest governor, but if he won in 2010 at the age of 72, he'd be the oldest. There is nothing fanciful about the idea. A number of attorneys general — including his father (former Gov. Pat Brown) — have gone on to seek the governorship."

"I would never make assumptions or predictions about Jerry Brown — that's what makes him so interesting," Christensen said. "I think it's quite possible he would run again and he would not be deterred by others who might argue that it's their turn."

Willis said: "I doubt very much, but don't rule out, the possibility that he might run for governor. Even he must recognize that you can't go back to where you were four decades ago."

McCuan sees yet another future for Brown.

"If there ever was a California politician who could roll through the muck with pigs and emerge smelling like a rose to voters of the Golden State, it's Jerry Brown. Brown for governor? No way," McCuan said. "Jerry Brown for U.S. Senate."

Brown explained why running for governor "is not the most attractive option" in his mind at this time.

"It's a lot of headache, without a lot of authority. You're buffeted by many forces that you cannot control."

Odds on 2010 gubernatorial campaigns are at http://www.camajorityreport.com.

Contact Steve Geissinger at sgeissinger@angnewspapers.com or 916-447-9302.