Mayor Gavin Newsom has challenged California Attorney General Jerry Brown to nearly a dozen verbal throw-downs.
The Newsom campaign e-mailed a letter to Brown’s team Wednesday suggesting the two Democrats attend 11 90-minute debates at locations scattered across the state.
Brown’s response: Why would I debate you when I’m not even running for governor?
The attorney general hasn’t officially declared his candidacy, but everyone including himself expects he will at some point. On Tuesday, Brown made that intention clear by launching an exploratory committee for the post, which is a precursor to declaring.
Newsom, 41, who has trailed Brown in recent polls, has been doing all he can in the past nine months to build statewide name recognition, including hosting dozens of town halls in various cities.
The 71-year-old Brown, a storied politician and former California governor, hasn’t had to meet voters since most already know him, as evidenced by recent polls.
The Newsom camp said it’s important that Brown get involved soon since some of the Republican candidates they could face in the general election are already reaching out to voters by holding debates.
“Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell have already held two debates, with another scheduled for Oct. 28,” Newsom’s campaign said.
In a statement, Newsom said, “Now that there are two candidates for governor, we owe the Democratic voters of California an opportunity to compare our visions and platforms side by side.”
But Brown’s camp said Newsom’s statement required a correction.
Steve Glazer, Brown’s senior adviser, said he doesn’t expect Brown to make a decision on whether to run until next year.
“As you may know, Attorney General Brown is not a declared candidate for governor,” Glazer wrote in an e-mail to Newsom this morning. “While he has processed the paperwork to create an exploratory committee for that office, he is currently focused on doing his job as attorney general — protecting consumers and prosecuting criminals.”
Could Brown be suggesting that Newsom should be focusing on his own mayoral duties? Who knows. But at least Glazer’s letter to the mayor wasn’t a full rejection.
“If Attorney General Brown decides to declare his candidacy for governor, I’m sure he would support the notion of holding debates under terms to be mutually agreed upon by the candidates,” he wrote.
Glazer then said, cordially, “Thank you again for writing.”
Don’t you feel the love in the air?