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Strickland Promoted

In the wake of the budget train wreck in Sacramento, south coast state Senator Tony Strickland has been named one of three assistant leaders of the Republican caucus.

Given the dwindling membership of the GOP senate caucus, the honor at first glance may seem like copping a cheesy plastic trophy at one of those "Everybody Is A Winner" kid's soccer tourneys. As a political matter, however, Strickland now has responsibility for campaign and elections prospects of Republican colleagues and future candidates, a post that offers the opportunity of building up mountains of chits, a nice gig for a guy with his statewide ambitions.

Note Strickland's comment in his press release: "I look forward to representing the views of my caucus as well as the constituents in my district as we continue to address Californians (sic) dire economy." (emp. mine)

It's revealing that he puts the views of the caucus ahead of those of his constituents, a formulation that clearly aligns with the anti-statist stance he and his GOP buds struck in the recent budget carnage. Depending on how his district is reconfigured in the 2010 reapportionment, it's also one that could pose big future risks for him at home, where Democratic registration has been fast outpacing Republican in recent years.

One key non-candidate battle that lies on the horizon for senate Republicans is the coming fight over Democrat efforts to dump the two-thirds vote requirement for passing a state budget, a constitutional provision that keeps outnumbered GOPers in the Sacramento game by effectively giving them a minority veto over budget and tax matters. I'll be examining that issue in my column for the Indie print edition this week (unless, of course, I get kicked out for space again by a rush of leftover listings from the Wedding Issue).

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