Update: The Bay Area Council voted to endorse Brown's budget proposal. Members called the talk with Brown "tough but refreshing."
As a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger had the star power that could set off a media frenzy every time he blew his nose. And while Gov.Jerry Brown lacks the same glamor, he's proving he has a different kind of appeal -- one that is luring conservatives to his side.
The governor stopped in San Francisco this afternoon to meet behind closed doors with Bay Area business executives, presumably get their buy-in on the his budget proposal. A spokesman with the Bay Area Council wouldn't discuss the details of the 2 p.m. meeting, but noted that members of the organization "have some real concerns" about Brown's budget proposal to close a $26 billion deficit.
"Our members don't support higher taxes, it runs counter to expanding business," said Joe Arellano, spokesman for the Bay Area Council. "They want to meet with the governor to relay their concerns."
Afterward, they will vote on whether to endorse the governor's budget plan, which includes asking voters to approve billions in taxes in a June special election.
It's not clear whether the Bay Area Council invited Brown down to The
City by The Bay or if the governor took the initiative; both have
something to lose -- Brown needs their support for the June ballot measures, and CEOs need Brown to help advance their business agenda with unemployment still hoovering at 10 percent.
As political strategist Bill Whalen pointed out, Brown has been making the rounds across California, trying to get business groups and conservatives to buy-in on the budget. Last week, he went to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which finally gave their endorsement, and soon he will ask the powerful State Chamber of Commerce for their support.
"The gorilla in the room is the California Chamber of Commerce," said Whalen, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution. "They will be the weather vane to the special election."
But ultimately, it's the legislature that Brown needs to convince -- and these various business groups want to know what Brown will do for both them and the Republicans in return for their support.
"Our CEOs want to give their input about what should be included in the budget proposal and other reforms they want to present him -- like pension regulation and budget reform " Arellano said.
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