Jerry Brown may not have an official campaign for an unprecedented fourth term as governor, but the veteran Democrat is raising money like a man whose name will undoubtedly be on the ballot in 2014.
New campaign finance records show Brown's Hollywood fundraising event last week as adding about $1 million in a single night, though one report says as much as double that amount will ultimately be reported.
Even so, the new filing brings his official 2013 fundraising total to more than $6.7 million, with millions more that were already in the bank.
"Raising funds for any potential campaign takes a great deal of time," Brown said last week when asked about his efforts. "And I don't jump into these things lightly."
The governor's intention to run again is about the safest bet there is in the world of 2014 politics in California. Already the longest serving and oldest chief executive in state history, Brown has a clear field in Democratic circles and only long-shot Republican challengers with the election season on the horizon.
"He seems to love this job so much and really feels he's making a difference," said First Lady Anne Gust Brown in an interview this past spring when asked whether she wanted the governor to run again in 2014. "If he continues to feel that way, then yeah, I do."
Brown's Hollywood fundraiser, a private event on Nov. 21, was easily one of his biggest such events to date. Large checks were collected from the likes of NBA Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson, TV producer Norman Lear, actor Kirk Douglas, and music producer David Geffen.
Republicans Abel Maldonado, who served two years as lieutenant governor, and Tim Donnelly, a southern California assemblyman, have both signaled their interest in challenging Brown in 2014. But neither has yet inspired widespread hope among some GOP politicos of being able to knock off the incumbent.
"You can't beat something with nothing," said GOP political strategist Rob Stutzman in a recent interview. "And Republicans, right now, are running just above the nothing line in terms of a challenger."
Brown's campaign war chest has been padded by both reliable Democratic constituencies and prominent businesses and business executives.
But as for something more official than cash to begin the contest, the governor seems to be in no hurry.
"I am aware that in November of next year there will be an election," he said last week. "And I will make some decisions regarding that when I think the time is appropriate."