California’s governor-elect could change the state’s political breakdown

California's governor-elect could change the state's political breakdown

Column: California voters don’t like where the state’s headed. But they still want Newsom in office.

For voters who like Newsom, his party has won control of Sacramento. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

It’s been 12 years since California voters opted for Democrat Jerry Brown as governor. They haven’t elected him back since.

But he may yet return for another term as governor in November.

Republicans, meanwhile, hold just three of the state’s nine statewide branches: the Legislature, the State Board of Equalization and the State Water Resources Control Board. And the governor controls just one more: the Board of Equalization.

“In my mind,” Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner told KPCC, “there is no governor of California who could do anything on the level that Jerry Brown does or does not do.”

The state’s political breakdown was on full display in 2013. Voters rejected the right-of-center Republican governor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a landslide.

This year’s governor-elect, Jerry Brown, could turn that around.

A record number of Californians voted for Democratic candidates in November. And in the four statewide races, there was one more Democrat than Republican.

Brown’s own party picked him this year, but he remains “a liberal Democrat more comfortable dealing with Republicans than traditional Democrats,” the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Garcetti wrote last week.

In Orange County, the Democrat who beat Brown in 2014 and took nearly 70 percent of the two-party vote, has not yet been nominated for statewide office.

“In my mind, he could win,” Wagner told KPCC “It’s a tall order.”

But to do so, Brown would need to stay with his party on some key issues, like the minimum wage and expanding health-care coverage.

“He would have to embrace and understand the concerns that the majority of Californians have,” Wagner said. “He wouldn’t be elected by himself.”

And Brown would need to avoid some major clashes with Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, R-Field, who leads the Senate.

“If Governor Brown thinks he’s going to solve this problem with a vote to approve Proposition 30, he’s mistaken,” Pérez said, referring to an November ballot measure that would provide relief from some of the new taxes that are the source of Brown’s

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