LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s speech in Sacramento already
has political tongues wagging. Reporters wonder if the mayor reading a
statewide run. Dan Walters asks if he is preparing to challenge Gov. Jerry
Brown from the left. Does this represent some sort of north-south political

speech does expose a divide among California Democrats. But the divide isn’t
about ideology or geography. It’s about attitude, and about strategy.

attitude divide was clear in the difference between Villaraigosa’s speech and
an interview
Brown gave this week to the LA Times.

The mayor’s attitude was all about action, and the need to
not dither or delay in tackling the state’s problems. "We are at a point in time in California where we can no longer afford to go on patching the leaks and hoping they will hold for another season,"
he said in a speech that included lines like,
"Let’s go for it with gusto."

Brown made the case for being a careful caretaker in difficult times and,
literally, doing less. "We’re allocating the less here instead of
handing out the more," Brown told The Times. "There’s a lot of work
to be done not in just promoting new things but managing what’s already on the

attitudes reflected a difference on strategy. The mayor called for making big
moves on taxes, the budget and the reform.
"Progressives have to start thinking – and acting ? big again,"
he said at one point. "We will fail if we think small," he said at another. And
"As a state and as a nation, we have to stop aiming low.  We can’t let this be an
era of limited thinking." Take that, Gov. Era of Limits. Brown’s aides
countered that big ideas are nice, but that what counts are actual revenue
provisions that are tailored to win the support of voters.

easy to dismiss Villaraigosa – and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who made plain that
he’s on the Action-Big side of this divide by releasing a jobs and growth plan
recently – as unrealistic. But Brown’s small, cautious approach also appears
unrealistic, since his attitude and strategy don’t seem to match the challenge
of fixing a broken system.

you come down on this argument, the political reality is clear. Brown’s
approach has left an enormous vacuum in the conversation about how to fix
California. And so other politicians are moving to fill it.