Looking to reclaim influence in debates over taxes, regulation and environmental policies, a key bloc of Democrats who typically align with business interests are revamping their leadership, with Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) at the helm.

The informal caucus — commonly known in the state Capitol as the “mods,” for moderate Democrats — have been led over the last year and a half by two Assembly Democrats: Jim Cooper of Elk Grove and Rudy Salas of Bakersfield.

Gray described his role as “convener” of the caucus, which, unlike other legislative caucuses, does not publicize its membership. He secured support from 14 legislators, representing ample support within the loosely affiliated group for the top post, according to a letter viewed by The Times.

The group, also known as the “New Democrats,” backs a “centrist, middle-of-the-road, fiscally conservative agenda,” Gray said.

“It’s more important than ever to have a voice for the middle. Our country is increasingly polarized,” he said. “I’d argue the silent majority is still in the middle.”

The business-aligned bloc has flexed its muscle in major Capitol battles in recent years, including stopping a controversial provision to slash oil consumption in a 2015 climate bill. Gray was central to a 2014 effort to craft compromise regulations around the controversial oil extraction technique known as fracking, staving off liberal attempts to ban the practice.


 Link to full article