Jerry Brown

By David Siders
Published: Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 – 6:57 am

On the eve of their swearing in last month, newly elected Assembly members gathered for a reception at the Stanford Mansion, where they were introduced one by one to Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Success,” said the host of the reception, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, “is built on relationships,” and the introductions Pérez facilitated were meant to forge ties with Brown.

Though the Democratic governor enjoyed a relatively favorable relationship with lawmakers of his party during the first two years of his term, the institution is significantly changed from last year.

Brown’s ability to win friends and influence people in the new Legislature remains critical to his efforts to pass a budget and pursue other policy goals in the second half of his term.

He is pushing a major overhaul of California’s school funding system, a rewrite of the state environmental review law and a controversial plan to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south.

After the November elections, the Legislature that convenes today will have its largest freshman class since 1966 and a Democratic supermajority – sufficient to override a gubernatorial veto – in both the Assembly and Senate.

“Even if (an override) is never used, the possibility shapes the relationship, just as nuclear weapons shape the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union,” said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College. “I think the governor just needs to be attentive to the Legislature.”

Most of the new Democrats were elected without any help from Brown, and some hardly know the 74-year-old, third-term governor.

“These are in many cases people who have no history with Brown,” Democratic strategist Garry South said. “How that dynamic develops is just not knowable until we see it play out.”

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