The decision by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom this week to open an exploratory committee for a potential campaign for governor in 2010 puts some pressure on other potential candidates to make their decisions sooner rather than later.
Among them is former Ventura County legislator Jack O'Connell, now the state superintendent of public instruction. O'Connell will be termed out of his current job in 2010 and has publicly said the only other office he is considering is governor.
It would be a long-shot campaign, given that other likely candidates are better known around the state, especially Attorney General Jerry Brown, who served two terms as governor from 1975 to 1982 and is the son of a former governor. Brown has all but declared his intention to run and because of his statewide identity is seen as the early favorite.
To compete with the likes of Brown, O'Connell would need to be confident of his ability to raise millions of dollars for a primary campaign. That will surely be the determining factor in O'Connell's decision. He already has a network of ground-level support in the education community around the state and a proven record as a tireless, effective campaigner. But without sufficient financing, those two assets would not be enough.
Because Newsom formed his committee on July 1 -- the day after the close of the semi-annual campaign finance reporting period -- he will not have to make public his financial contributions until February 2009. Because of that, other candidates will not have the luxury of waiting to see how well Newsome's candidacy is received by donors.