SACRAMENTO — Connie Conway assumes leadership of Republicans in the California Assembly at a time when Democrats control the Governor's Office, Assembly and Senate -- and recent passage of Proposition 25 allows state budgets to be adopted by a majority vote.
Conway, 60, sees opportunity, pointing to passage of Proposition 26, which bars state fee increases without a two-thirds vote of each legislative house. It creates a situation in which Democrats likely would get blamed for passing a budget that devastates public services, but they can't generate revenue without at least a handful of Republican votes.
"I think we still have leverage," Conway said. "They say, 'We need more revenue.' But they can't get to that point without us."
GOP legislative priorities this year? "Jobs, jobs, jobs," she said. "And the economy."
Conway, a self-described "workaholic," spent eight years as a Tulare County supervisor and served in 2006 as president of the California State Association of Counties.
Known more for her humor and collegiality than for her legislation, Conway's past successes include a bill that allows passports to be accepted as valid ID to buy alcohol.
Conway once quipped that she and openly gay San Francisco Democratic Assembly Member Tom Ammiano are worlds apart politically but find common ground. "I admire his earrings," she said, "and he admires my shoes."
Prior to getting elected Assembly GOP leader, Conway joked, she served as head of the "Blonde Caucus" and the "Smart-Ass Caucus."
Truth is, Conway served as a top lieutenant to former leader Martin Garrick before being stripped of the post in October amid rumors she had pushed to oust him. A month later, Garrick resigned the top job under pressure. Conway was elected unanimously.
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