When Democrats took two-thirds majority of both legislative houses and won all the constitutional offices in the last election some commentators suggested that one-party control would result in opposing factions forming in the ruling party. There are signs that it is starting to happen.
Before going on let’s stipulate here that the Republican Party in California is engaged in a visible tussle between establishment and populist wings. Applying a couple of Ronald Reagan’s dictates to the Republicans including a call for a Big Tent and an 11th Commandment of not speaking ill toward fellow Republicans would help bridge the gap. That is not happening.
But the focus here is on the Democrats who, after all, have the power to make laws and direct state policy.
Recently, 16 Democratic Assembly members signed a letter to the California Air Resources Board asking for a delay or changes to the cap and trade auction that was created in association with AB 32, the global warming solutions act. The letter signees are concerned that the cost of gas prices will skyrocket, particularly hurting the most vulnerable of their constituents.
The concern expressed by the Democratic legislators echoes worries raised by the business community and Republicans over the cost of AB 32 on small businesses and low-income individuals.
While AB 32 has generated solid support from Democrats, the letter shows some cracks in that solidarity on the implementation of the law.
This action follows the revolt against a proposal to rescind the affirmative action law passed by California voters two decades ago. When the legislature started the process of a do-over on affirmative action, pushback from the Asian-American community sent many Democratic legislators scrambling. The protests centered around the notion that despite hard work and high achievement, some Asian-American children would be denied places within the University of California system if the affirmative action law was overturned.
Again, a goal that seemed to be a sturdy plank for the Democrats became wobbly.
The recent Vergara decision declaring unconstitutional teacher tenure law in the state also is driving Democrats into different camps. Reform Democrats support the ruling; those allied with the teachers unions, strong financial supporters of the Democratic Party, do not. This divisive issue has yet to play out in the legislature.
In the coming election, efforts will be made to help more business friendly Democrats into office running against Democratic candidates stationed further to the left on the political scale. If these efforts are successful, more splits could appear in the Democratic ranks in the legislature.
The prognosticators who analyzed what might happen after the great blue political wave of 2012 may be proved correct.