Brown is trying to capitalize on his experience and become the state's oldest governor. He will be 72 years old next month and faces no Democratic opposition.
"I have the skills, the stamina and the insight to wrestle this bear to the ground, this terrible budget deficit that is causing such havoc with the state of California today," said Brown.
First he's going to have to win the fight with either Whitman or multi-millionaire Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. The two Republicans will face each other in the June primary. Whitman, the former CEO of Internet giant eBay, has a substantial lead in the polls. She touts her success as a businesswoman.
"I don't think government is some kind of online auction. It's the civic engagement by the people of this state grappling with the problems and challenges that face our state. That and selling stuff over the Internet are totally different," said Brown.
Brown has promised not to raise taxes unless the people want it.
Whitman says Brown entered the governor's office with a surplus and left it with a deficit. He says that's not entirely true. He admits he opposed property-tax-cutting Proposition 13, but changed his mind.
"I didn't support Proposition 13, but when the people overwhelmingly passed it I took over and made it work," said Brown.
Brown calls his Republican opponents enormously wealthy. Whitman has given $39 million of her own money to her campaign. Brown calls his opponents "multi-multi-millionaires."
He has independent campaign committees raising money for his candidacy. He says by November's election, voters will know him.
"I don't have some Madison Avenue consultant in New York crafting some artificial image. What you see is what you get," said Brown.
And what you get with Jerry Brown is a lot of political history in California and national politics. He ran for president three times. He's married now and living in an expensive house. When he was governor he refused to move into the governor's mansion. He rented an apartment and slept on the floor.