Jerry Brown Kicks Off Governor Battle at Solar Startup Solaria

Now that the primary elections have made it official this week that longtime California politician Jerry Brown (D) and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) will face off in the November California gubernatorial election, expect a long, brutal and aggressive battle. Jerry Brown kicked off his campaign on Thursday by stumping at Fremont, Calif-based Solaria, which makes solar modules, and where he challenged Whitman to a series of debates.

It’s an important move that Brown chose the solar maker for one of his first speeches post-primary. While neither candidate has articulated a green platform all that aggressively yet, Brown has the opportunity to use greentech support as a major differentiator. Brown (who gave a speech on greentech at our Green:Net event in April, see video) supports California’s climate change bill AB32, while Whitman has called for a moratorium on parts of AB32. AB32 is the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act that calls for a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. California has been developing a plan for how to reach those goals that will likely include a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions.

Triple Pundit reported that Brown used the stage at Solaria to repeat his support of AB32 and to praise the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, which supports factories for green vehicle tech. Brown has a long history of supporting clean power and environmental regulations, including his work as Attorney General to bring the state’s stringent clean air standards to a national stage and his co-sponsorship of a bill that would require the state’s big utilities to install energy storage systems.

It’s still unclear exactly what parts of AB32 Whitman would seek to change or halt. Many pundits think that now that the primaries are over, Whitman will soften her stance on AB32 and move more towards the middle. But as Josh Green, general partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, put it to us in April, Whitman’s early stance that AB 32 is “job threatening, rather than job-creating,” is a worrisome start for him.

Brown was joined at the event at Solaria by Gavin Newsom, who won the democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor this week. As Mayor of San Francisco, Newsom has also had a long history of support of the green technology industry and green job creation (Newsom also spoke at our first Green:Net 2009). Check out our Greentech Voter Guide to the CA Governor Race and watch Brown’s speech at Green:Net below.

gigaomtv on Broadcast Live Free

For more on cleantech financing check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Cleantech Financing Trends: 2010 and Beyond