Before buying a house about a year ago, my family lived in a rented apartment in the heart of Los Angeles, near the tar pits and the county art museum. We were also a block north of the stretch of Fairfax known as Little Ethiopia.

As a special treat, we enjoyed dining in the several Ethiopians restaurants there. Ethiopian food is terrific, but eating it is a different experience. It’s communal and done with your hands; varied meats and vegetables are brought to you on a big plate of flat bread called injera.

So let’s just say this is not the sort of place you’d expect to find a good, red-blooded conservative Republican from the Inland Empire. But on one night a couple of years ago, my wife, older son and I walked into a Little Ethiopia joint to find Jim Brulte sitting there, eating Ethiopian.

Brulte was very gracious, welcoming my family. I wasn’t quite as cool in return. I couldn’t resist teasing him a bit about being in such a place (I may have asked him if he secretly harbored any other secret liberal cultural affinities – like maybe an interest in experimental European film?). But he patiently explained that he was here to spend a wonderful evening with his lovely lady friend. And that to spend time with her and keep her affections, he was willing to try new things and embrace a new cultural experience.

Recently, when I heard the news that Brulte was thinking of making a run for the chairmanship of the California GOP, I thought of our strange meeting in Little Ethiopia.

The California Republican Party may be a lost cause, and I personally think the best candidate for the job is dead. But if Republicans insist on choosing a candidate from among the living, I suspect they couldn’t do any better than Brulte.

The new GOP needs to rebuild its organization and local connections everywhere. And to do that, it needs to reach out and talk to unfamiliar people in unfamiliar places. And that reaching out will require an open-mindedness, a willingness to try new things, and a spirit of cultural adventure.

For a job like that, why not Brulte the Ethiopian?