Here’s a question, a real question, not a rhetorical question: does Jerry Brown have a hammer?

If he does, I don’t see it. As the governor pushes for his budget of cuts and tax increases and a June special election, what leverage does he have over the legislature to get what he wants?

More specifically, what can he really do to legislative Republicans who – to listen to them – are so devoted to the freedom of Californians that they dare not let Californians vote on tax increases?

Can he punish the GOP politically? It’s difficult to exact retribution on a party that’s in the permanent minority and seems to content to be there. Does the possibility of using a legal maneuver to get around the 2/3 requirement for tax increases provide leverage? I suppose a few Republicans might worry about the possibility of such a maneuver becoming a precedent that robs them of leverage. But from a legal standpoint, Republicans seem confident (and rightfully so, unfortunately) that such a move might be unconstitutional.

Are there appointments or executive orders that Republicans want from Brown? Maybe, but I can’t see what those would be.

Perhaps the best chance for leverage on Republicans is the budget itself. After all, the budget may be passed now with a majority vote. And Brown, as governor, possesses the power of the blue pencil. Could Brown and/or the Democrats find a way to cut programs disproportionately in Republican districts? Maybe. But would the conservatives in California’s Republican caucus be angry? Or would they use cuts as an example of their purity and commitment to the conservative cause?

What am I missing? I await your posts.