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California governor candidates, Brown and Newsom, court Democrats

Jerry Brown cast himself as a man who was ahead of his time as governor in the 1970s — and remains so today.

Gavin Newsom took a veiled shot at nostalgia over Brown's potential return — and sold himself as a contemporary problem-solver of California's Internet age.

It was a day for generational contrasts Saturday as two top contenders for governor in 2010 courted delegates and activists at the California Democratic Party convention.

The appearance of the two men came at a Sacramento gathering full of populist calls for universal health care, workers rights and protection of vulnerable residents and the environment. But the rhetoric contrasted with a bitter Democratic rift over a burgeoning California budget crisis and controversial special election initiatives to address state fiscal woes.

Newsom, who formally declared his candidacy for governor Tuesday on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, took the podium cheered by a procession of young, sign-waving supporters. Without mentioning Brown, he essentially challenged delegates to choose between two politicians separated in age and experience by 30 years.

"So what are we going to do next year?" Newsom asked. "Will we offer voters a stroll down memory lane or a sprint to the future? Will we nominate candidates who know Sacramento or leaders who know how to change it? Will we choose the past, or will we embrace the future?

Speaking with the aid of a teleprompter, Newsom described himself as a contemporary leader with a proven record providing health care and environmental innovation.

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