OAKLAND — Former state Sen. Don Perata will kick his Oakland mayoral campaign into a higher gear this evening with a $100-a-head reception at the Jack London Market building.

In March, Perata became the first person to say he will run for mayor in the 2010 election after long hinting he was interested in the job.

He said this evening's event will be attended by about 125 supporters who have shown interest in helping him in his mayoral run, which he's calling the "Believe in Oakland" campaign.

"It's less than a campaign kickoff," he said.

"It's really an opportunity to get people involved at a broader level in the first part of the campaign."

The event will be hosted by James Falaschi, a developer at the center of the massive remake of Jack London Square. During his days in Sacramento, Perata carried a piece of special legislation needed to bring the Jack London deal to fruition.

Perata said "he's ringing doorbells already" and in the first phase of his campaign will concentrate largely on broadening a base of support in neighborhoods throughout Oakland.

"We're going to pace ourselves," he said.

The timing this evening is not perfect: The Perata reception will coincide with Oakland's Uptown Unveiled festival, which runs 5 to 10 p.m. Perata said he'll stop by after his event wraps up.

In April, the former president pro tem of the state Senate said he will not accept donations of more than $100 per person and will stick to Oakland's voluntary campaign spending limits.

It's a move that has done nothing to impress critics of Perata, who is known for raising millions of dollars for political action committees that is spent on candidates or causes he supports.

Count among those critics Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), who said the $100 limit won't inhibit the financing of Perata's campaign. Perata is viewed as the early favorite, but Quan is moving through the steps of a possible run.

"I'm actively pursuing it," she said. "My process is that I'm doing 100 house parties and trying to build a grass-roots campaign to run and win."

Other possible candidates in the election include former City Manager Robert Bobb and Alameda County deputy district attorney Scott Jackson.

Mayor Ron Dellums is not expected to seek re-election but has not publicly ruled it out.

Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435.