Bill Clinton finds himself in the middle of a California gubernatorial election again and I was there the last time it occurred.

In the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary, I was an advisor to former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Riordan squared off with eventual Republican nominee, businessman Bill Simon, and former California Secretary of State, Bill Jones.

A day or so following Riordan’s defeat, I was in the car with the former mayor when his secretary patched through a call from the former president.

Clinton was calling to apologize, in a jocular way, for the fact that Riordan had been tied to Clinton during the Republican primary. Clinton suggested that might have cost Riordan the election. The mayor’s opponents had tied Riordan to Clinton because Riordan had donated to a Clinton campaign and had at one time called Clinton, "the greatest leader in the free world."

Clinton may have had more to do with Riordan’s defeat than simply being mentioned in connection to Riordan. Los Angeles Times senior political writer, Mark Z. Barabak, wrote a column in November 2002 after Governor Gray Davis had defeated Bill Simon for the governorship that stated Clinton suggested the strategy to defeat Riordan in the primary.

Barabak wrote, "According to campaign insiders, it was Clinton who ultimately got Davis to launch the preemptive advertising blitz that helped torpedo former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan in the March race." The full Barabak article is here.

The news today is awash with Jerry Brown’s comment about Bill Clinton and Brown’s apology. The question remains will Clinton ignore the fuss and campaign for Brown as some have suggested he was prepared to do? Or will the former president recall his bitter relationship with Brown over the years and keep his distance, which will keep the story of Brown’s "gaffe" alive in the media?

Whether he intends to or not, Bill Clinton seems to find a way to intrude in California gubernatorial races.

UPDATE: Bill Clinton endorsed Jerry Brown today telling the Los Angeles Times:  "I strongly support Jerry Brown for governor because I believe he was a fine mayor of Oakland and he’s been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence."