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Jerry Brown taking his budget-cutting campaign into GOP territory

After the collapse of the California budget deal, Jerry Brown is appealing directly to Republican voters where they live, including a GOP-friendly proposal to reform public employee pensions.

Gov. Jerry Brown said he was still trying to reach a compromise with Republican lawmakers to put a tax extension on a special election ballot, while talking to reporters at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on March 23.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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With the entire California government in blame-game mode over the great budget deal that wasn’t, the man in the middle of it all – Gov. Jerry Brown – is hitting the road.

The idea is not to escape the name-calling, finger-pointing, and condemnation over the failure of the Legislature to authorize a special election to extend some taxes, but rather to seize the moment and make a preemptive strike on the issue of public employee pensions, his Republican opponent’s most appealing issue with voters.

Governor Brown was seeking the extra tax revenues, accompanied by billions in spending cuts, to erase California’s caustic $26 billion budget shortfall.

He’ll also take his case for tax increases directly into the most hostile of areas: Republican districts – many of which he has not visited since taking office – where his opponents have signed “no new taxes” pledges.

IN PICTURES: Jerry Brown through the years

If that sounds like a fool’s errand or counterintuitive to some, political experts here say it’s a great idea.

“I think it’s a brilliant move because he’s going right to the people, who are clearly not wanting to hear about the alternative of a total-cuts budget,” says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento.

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