Gov. Brown faces skeptical Assembly Democrats as he pitches transportation plan

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gov. Jerry Brown is making a rare cameo at an Assembly Democratic caucus gathering on Wednesday, giving an in-person sales pitch for his $52-billion transportation plan. But he'll be facing a wary audience of fellow Democrats.

Brown's visit comes one day after tensions flared at the caucus' regular Tuesday lunch, where fears about a tough political vote were compounded by complaints about the short turnaround between the deal's unveiling and Thursday's scheduled vote.

"Part of the frustration that you're hearing is that it's a self-imposed deadline," said Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas). "My perspective is that people want to be reflective about how we handle a big change, and so we want to make sure we're checking in with our constituents and this doesn't leave much time."

The bill requires a two-thirds vote to pass. That would require every Democrat in the Senate and all but one Democrat in the Assembly to vote yes.

The scramble for votes has exposed the fractures within the large Democratic caucus, but unlike in past legislative battles, the fault lines are regional rather than ideological.

The informal but powerful group of business-friendly Democrats, who self-identify as moderates, are not voting as a bloc on the package. Some "mods," including Assemblyman Jim Frazier of Oakley, who helped shepherd the proposal, are on board. Others, such as Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, are on the fence.