The headlines on Tuesday seemed to ask in wonder: who is this brave Republican legislator who is daring to attend a public event with Gov. Jerry Brown?
His name is Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, and his decision to join Brown for a Thursday event in Santa Clarita, part of his Southern California district, should be no surprise. Nor is Smyth's decision that big deal.
The politics are clear. Smyth is in a district that includes parts of the city of Los Angeles and Glendale -- places with lots of Democrats. And so even though the seat is relatively safe for the GOP -- and even though Smyth will be termed out in 2012 and can't run for re-election -- it's a good idea for a politician in this sort of district to look like he's listening to the other side. It also may help Smyth if his next race -- which would be for a different office -- is in an election in which he needs to win more Democrats.
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Of course, Smyth's appearance doesn't indicate he'll back Brown's tax extensions plan -- or whatever the governor's plan is this week. Smyth is among the legislators to have signed a no-taxes pledge.