The ink is barely dry on Attorney General Jerry Brown's paperwork to form an exploratory committee for to run for California governor but already, his office is fending off an invitation for a series of debates from his biggest opponent.
San Francisco mayor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom threw down the gauntlet on Wednesday, proposing a series of debates after Brown inched closer Tuesday to officially declaring his candidacy.
The two Democrats are widely believed to be the frontrunners in the 2010 primary for governor, though Brown has not yet officially entered the race. He announced the formation of an exploratory committee for governor on Tuesday.
"Our state is in need of real reform -- we have a broken system that must be fixed," Newsom said in a statement released by his campaign Wednesday.
"And 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," Newsom said.
Newsom proposed 11 90-minute town hall-style debates in each media market in the state.
Brown, who has for several months come tantalizingly close to announcing his intentions, still was having none of it upon hearing the invitation for the debates according to his senior political advisor Steven Glazer.
"As you may know, Attorney General Brown is not a declared candidate for governor," Brown's senior political advisor, Steve Glazer, said in an e-mail to Newsom.
Sounding a bit like a suggestion that Newsom also focus on his current job, Glazer reminds the mayor's office that Brown is pretty busy with his AG duties.
"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."
The establishment of an exploratory committee, however, allows Brown to boost his fundraising. His ostensible campaign for reelection as attorney general only allowed a $6,500 maximum donation per person, while he is now allowed to raise up to $25,900 per person for governor. He has until March to file papers.
According to the California Secretary of State, Brown had already amassed nearly $7.4 million in campaign funds by June 30, while Newsom's campaign had about $1.2 million.
Republican candidates for governor Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell have already held two debates and have another scheduled for later this month.
Bay City News contributed to this article.