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Jerry Brown will try to be California's governor again

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Return of 'Gov. Moonbeam'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jerry Brown served two terms as California governor from 1975 to 1983
  • He's now serving as attorney general for California
  • Brown has $12 million-dollar war chest, attracted support of Hollywood kingmakers
  • When Brown left the governor's office the first time, he was a controversial figure

(CNN) -- California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced Tuesday his candidacy for governor.

"At this stage in my life, I'm prepared to focus on nothing else but fixing the state I love," he said in a televised statement.

If elected, this would be the second time around for Brown, a Democrat who served two terms as California governor from 1975 to 1983.

"The state's in deep trouble and the next governor needs the preparation, the know-how and the knowledge to fix this state," Brown told CNN's "Larry King Live" Tuesday night. "That's what I can offer and that's why I'm doing it."

Brown has already amassed a war chest of at least a $12 million and has attracted the support of big Hollywood kingmakers: David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, who have publicly endorsed him.

Brown called Tuesday night for an end to partisan bickering.

"There was a time when the Republicans used to work with Democrats," he told King. "And I don't know all the things that contributed to it, but I really believe that if the governor would just focus on knocking heads together and listening to both sides, I think we'd get a lot done."

No other big-name Democrats are in the race. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, once predicted to be Brown's fiercest primary opponent, dropped out of the contest in October.

The most recent surveys of California voters, conducted in mid-January by the Public Policy Institute and the Field Poll, indicate Brown leading the top Republican candidates. He surpasses Meg Whitman by 5 to 10 points and tops State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by 15 to 17 points.

Brown has run for president, studied Buddhism, traveled with Mother Theresa, and served two terms as mayor of Oakland.

Video: Brown joins California race
Video: DNC chair praises Jerry Brown
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  • Jerry Brown
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When Brown left the governor's office the first time, he was a controversial figure.

He was California's youngest governor since the turn of the 20th century and the son of former two-term Gov. Pat Brown.

He also gained national attention for dating Linda Ronstadt and sleeping on a futon in an apartment to save money on staffing the governor's mansion.

He earned the nickname "Governor Moonbeam" after he proposed buying space on a satellite to enhance state communications in the event of an emergency; that's now common practice and the former governor insists he's vindicated.

Also in the race: Actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt. He says he's running as an independent. Von Anhalt gained national notoriety when he claimed paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.

CNN's Jessica Yellin and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.