Doc Brown’s Hard Medicine

Jerry Brown and Legislative Republicans: Will the Second Year Produce More Harmony?

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Unofficial state psychiatrist Jerry Brown is again attempting to diagnose what ails Legislative Republicans in 2012. 

Last year, the "good doctor" tried everything in his political bag to gain a more cooperative Republican attitude -- office house calls, sweet talk, gentle threats -- yet nothing persuaded Republicans to join forces with the governor on any matters of substance, particularly on the issue of tax increases.

On this and other issues, Republicans were just plain grouchy in terms of the governor's goals.

This year may be different. 

Two factors, reconstituted legislative districts and California's "top two" primary system may generate enough uncertainty to get some Republicans to see major policy proposals in a different light.

With Democrats enjoying a 44 percent to 31 percent registration advantage over Republicans, many Republican legislators will run for re-election in revised districts filled with more Democrats.

That's because the days of gerrymandering are gone. To gain this new support and keep their offices, some Republicans may feel the need to moderate their positions.

Similar uncertainty will exist with the "top two" primary process, where the two individuals gaining the most votes in June will oppose one another in November, regardless of political party.

Again, the growing numbers of Democrats in once staunch Republican districts may force Republican incumbents toward the middle as they scurry to be one of the top two in several districts.

To be sure, these changes will have much more impact in some districts than others.

But the numbers suggest that Democrats are more likely to be beneficiaries of the changes than Republicans.

With the Democrats only two votes short of the all important two-thirds majority in both houses, Republicans will have to be on their toes to keep Democrats from reaching those numbers. 

To that end, some Republicans may well respond differently in 2012 than 2011. If so, the most successful medicine may come not from Dr. Brown but the state's changing political environment.   

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