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Unlike 'GOP 5,' lead Republican negotiators have bipartisan history

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In the end, it was old-fashioned partisanship and legislative gridlock that seems to have doomed Gov. Jerry Brown's so-called "Plan A" for solving the state's budget crisis. The governor called off negotiations with Republicans earlier this week after the two sides reached a stalemate.

As KQED's John Myers and others have noted, who gets the blame has already been the subject of much debate. Republicans have blamed public employee unions, trial lawyers and other traditionally Democratic interests. Democrats have blamed Republicans' defense of business tax breaks and their extensive list of demands made public last week.

But perhaps more interesting than the outcome, which many around the Capitol have been predicting for weeks, is that unlike the so-called "GOP 5," who demonstrated an early willingness to negotiate with Brown, the Republican lawmakers who ultimately presided over the stalemate have a history of crossing the aisle and working with Democrats.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how four of the five Republican lawmakers who took the lead in early negotiations with Brown did not have an extensive history of working with Democrats during their legislative careers.

However, the two Republicans who ultimately took over the negotiating table – Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, and Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar – were among the most bipartisan Republicans during the 2009-10 legislative session, according to their voting records.


As we noted last time, in each of the graphs, a line connects two legislators if they voted with each other on the Assembly or Senate floor at least two-thirds of the time during the entire legislative session. The method comes from this similar analysis of the U.S. Senate. The nodes are organized such that lawmakers who voted frequently with members of the other party appear toward the center, and those who voted primarily with their own party members appear on the edges.

Huff's votes marked him as one of the most centrist Republicans in the Senate last session, according to our method. Dutton worked most often with members of his own party, but not as much as his GOP 5 counterpart in the Senate, Huntington Beach Republican Tom Harman.

Both Dutton and Huff scored 88 percent in last year's California Republican Assembly annual scorecard [PDF] – more than three GOP 5 members but less than the fourth: then-Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto.

It seems that the next steps for Democrats may not include reaching out to Republicans. After Brown called off budget talks, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Democrats would rely on the "power of our majority" to begin pushing a new strategy. He did not specify what that strategy would entail. 



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