If the California Republican Party wants to revive its fortunes with the selection of a new chairman, the best choice is clear:

Howard Jarvis.

Jarvis remains widely revered not only among the Republican rank and file, most of whom are old enough to remember him, but also among many Californians. His signature triumph, Prop 13, remains so popular with the public that Gov. Jerry Brown and many Democrats refuse to take it on. Jarvis still has a strong organization that mostly supports the party, and his name alone is still a reliable fundraiser. And he offered all sorts of good lines and quips that could be effectively recycled and applied to today’s issues.

Now, by this point in the post, there may be some of you who question my choice for a rather narrow reason, and a few very small-minded people who see Jarvis as ineligible to run the party for the same narrow reason:

He’s dead.

Yes, he is. He’s been dead for 25 years. But it’s hard to see why that’s a problem.

As a purely practical matter, a proper exhumation and embalming would get Mr. Jarvis in shape to get back out visiting local party folks up and down the state. Yes, he couldn’t talk or move, and he would have to be dragged around Weekend-at-Bernie’s-style. At least at first. But eventually, I’m sure the party could find some Koch money to do an audioanimatronic thing, like the President Lincoln who talks to you at Disneyland. And I’m not sure there would be all that many objections. I mean, have you been to a Republican event lately? A dead Jarvis would probably be more lifelike than many Republicans, and he’d probably make them feel young, which is nice.

Jarvis would also fit what the California GOP is now. Its current members and elected officials don’t govern much of anything. But the constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives they supported in the past still govern the state and effectively determine fiscal situations today. In effect, voters and officials of the past – many of them dead or gone from the state – still make the decisions in California. So why not a dead man to run their party?

There are other political advantages. If Democrats attack the party for having a dead leader, Republicans can win points by reminding voters that most of the state’s top Democrats, according to the actuarial tables, are not all that far from death’s door themselves. And Jarvis could help with the party’s financial problems. Imagine the savings if Republicans didn’t have to pay their chairman – or even reimburse him for meals. Talk about living up to… scratch that… Talk about projecting an image of fiscal discipline!

Of course, there is one alternative to a Jarvis chairmanship. The party could take itself apart, start over, do some tough new thinking on issues, develop a plan that responds to today’s California realities, and spend many years selling that vision and building up local parties.

I know – that’s too hard and totally unrealistic. So Jarvis has got to be the choice. Be honest with yourselves, Republicans. Do you have a living candidate who would be any better?