SAN FRANCISCO Still smarting from the Legislature's defeat of his tax and jobs plan, Gov. Jerry Brown accused Republican lawmakers Wednesday of an "unconstitutional delegation of power," saying they are controlled by the anti-tax group Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
"The Republicans in Sacramento have one jockey," Brown said in a fiery speech to about 1,000 nurses at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.
In recent days, Brown has decried the GOP, rallied labor unions and called for "a war on unemployment" in an uncharacteristic spate of public appeals.
The public appearances including three speeches in three days are in sharp contrast to the low profile he kept after previous legislative failures, when budget talks with Republicans stalled in March and collapsed months later.
In the aftermath of that defeat, Brown went hiking.
The quiet approach, Democratic strategist Darry Sragow said, didn't work.
"Now he's trying something else," Sragow said. "Plan B, or maybe Plan C, and that's to engage, to be more confrontational and more visible, to call the question in public."
The Democratic governor is likely to ask voters next year to raise taxes, and union support is expected to be critical.
Brown piled blame Wednesday on the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for the Legislature's defeat of his tax and jobs plan, saying some Republican senators told him they would like to vote for the measure but couldn't because of the association's political clout.
Now, after months of failed negotiations with Republicans, Brown said, "At least I know who to talk to."
Brown is also preparing to upset legislative Democrats, warning he will veto many of the hundreds of bills passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature before it recessed early Saturday.
"I'm going to veto a lot of bills over the next 30 days," Brown said in Sacramento on Wednesday. "I have to say to some, 'Fasten your seat belt, because it's going to be a rough ride. You've given me 600 bills, and there's not 600 problems that we need those solutions for.' "
After traveling Monday to Las Vegas to address the Laborers' International Union of North America, Brown called for public investment in green energy projects and infrastructure at a conference of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Tuesday.
"It's time for a war on unemployment," Brown said. "Find the jobs, and do so by investing in the renewable energy, the efficiency technologies, the innovative transportation, the land use policies."
Brown is still trying this year to push forward California's troubled high-speed rail project, and he plans to propose next year a plan for a peripheral canal or other way to move water through or around the Delta. Both projects are controversial.
Republican strategist Rob Stutzman said Brown's public appeal could help him politically. But it is late, Stutzman said, coming near the end of a year defined by Brown's legislative disappointments.
"He's just about blown through his political capital of his first year in office without giving us anything bold," Stutzman said. "He better figure out how to get something substantive done soon."
Brown said he is not looking ahead to elections next year, that his "main responsibility today" is to sign or veto bills. If he does use the veto pen aggressively, it will be a departure: Brown vetoed less than 5 percent of regular session bills when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983.
He suggested on Wednesday that he will take a moderate approach.
"Not every human problem needs a law," he said. "That's kind of my first principle that I'll be applying."
Former state Sen. David Roberti, a Los Angeles Democrat involved in a 1979 vote to override one of Brown's spending vetoes, said the governor's centrist take on Democratic-backed legislation appears unchanged.
But he couldn't recall Brown barnstorming quite like he has this week.
"I do think it helps," he said, "to gin up support." Roberti, however, said Brown might widen his appeal.
"The unions, or whatever, can supply troops and enthusiasm, but with California being so big, you've got to win it at the PR level," he said. "It remains to be seen if Jerry's going to do that."
Brown's speech Wednesday was at a National Nurses United conference. The organization's California affiliate, the California Nurses Association, was a major supporter of Brown in his gubernatorial campaign, labeling his billionaire Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, "Queen Meg."
"I want to thank you, each one of you, for all the help you gave in the great campaign to make sure that the queen was not crowned, but was exiled, hopefully for a long time," Brown said. "You softened her up, so there was almost nothing for me to do."