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Jerry Brown's Big Gamble

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JERRY BROWN
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Can Jerry Brown pull it off?

That's the question as he moved into higher gear last week to sell his plan to have voters decide in June whether to extend higher taxes on income, vehicles and sales. Before that can happen, though, he has to get California's infamously dysfunctional state legislature to agree to allow the special election in the first place. For this to happen by June, Brown needs legislative approval by next month.

To accomplish this, Brown must garner a two-thirds vote of the legislature -- and that means picking up at least a couple of Republican votes while keeping all the Democrats on board and on message.

"I want Republican votes," Brown is quoted telling the Los Angeles Times. "I need Republican votes -- not just to get it through the Legislature but to make it credible so it will pass."

But Brown is well aware that getting getting the legislature to go along -- which is far from certain -- is not the same thing as getting voters to.

During a trip down to L.A. last Friday, Brown was hemmed in by reporters at Bob Hope Airport's A Terminal and peppered with questions about what would happen should the famously tax averse California voters give him the cold shoulder and turn down his plan.

He all but hinted at the end of the world as we know it!

Brown is smart and no doubt right that without the extension, at least, of the higher tax rates, the state is fiscally doomed. But it will likely be a hard sell. What's more, should Brown's plan get rejected by voters, it will weaken his hand politically. But he is experienced enough to know all of this. It's a gamble. But he knows this, too.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24 Hour News Cycle." He has covered politics and police in Los Angeles since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reports to KNX1070 Newsradio.