As the current state attorney general, Brown announced on the Internet that he is running for governor.
"We need someone with an insider's knowledge but an outsider's mind, a leader who can pull people together," Brown said.
On his last day as governor in 1982, Brown was 44 years old. He usually drove around in a plain blue Plymouth instead of Ronald Reagan's armor plated Cadillac.
His father was the well respected former Gov. Pat Brown. Gov. Jerry Brown was fodder for the nation's editorial cartoonists and his pronouncements unpredictable.
Brown spent much of his online announcement trying to minimize any baggage and capitalize on his experience.
"Some people say if you've been around the process you can't handle the job and that we need to go out and find an outsider who knows virtually nothing about state government. Well, we tried that and it didn't work," said Brown.
"The main story here with Jerry Brown getting back in the game is if he's going to be able to convince folks that he is bringing a new approach, a fresh face, that he's somehow an outsider when he's been entrenched," said David Chalian, ABC's political director.
Brown was California secretary of state, served two terms as governor and ran for president three times. He ran for U.S. Senate and became chairman of the California Democratic Party. He was mayor of Oakland for two terms and then became state attorney general.
Our exclusive Eyewitness News poll indicates his experience could pay off for him.
Half the people prefer years of political experience to 41 percent who prefer a political outsider. Nine percent are not sure.
He would face either political newcomer and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman or current state Insurance Commissioner and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Poizner. Poizner says the election should be about the future not the past. Poizner has contributed $19 million of his own money to his campaign.
Billionaire Meg Whitman has given $39 million of her own money to the campaign. She was in Bakersfield Tuesday where she accused Brown of a trail of failed experiments.
"He has been in politics for 40 years. He is a career politician. He is, in my view, he is the epitome of what is wrong with Sacramento," said Whitman.
The most recent statewide polls show Whitman far ahead of Poizner in the republican primary race. Whitman has moved to within striking distance of Brown, but if the election were to be held today, Brown would win.