My introduction to Ron Smith was butting heads with him in battle some 30 odd years ago.  He was representing a candidate for Congress in a Republican primary while I was managing the campaign of a competitor.

Those who have experienced political campaigns know that they can be best described as frantic endeavors.  There never seems to be enough time or resources and the challenge is, with so many people and issues demanding attention, to stay focused on what is important to achieving the goal.

When, on one particularly hectic morning, I was told that Ron Smith was on the phone for me, everything else was immediately pushed from my mind.  Ron had a reputation for being tough, smart and successful and as I picked up the phone, I was prepared to assume a defensive position.

Imagine my surprise when a friendly voice announced that his was a courtesy call to let me know that his candidate planned to drop out of the race that afternoon.  At first I was dumbstruck – which I did not admit – and then I was grateful — which I did.  Although it is usually hidden from the public, the care and feeding of candidates, is an integral and time consuming part of any campaign, and because of Ron’s call I was now in a position to inform my client of the news while already having prepared the obligatory statement in praise of the departing candidate.

While it may seem a small matter, as I got to know Ron better over the years, I learned that his courtesy and integrity were the foundation of his character.

Some years later, and I was working for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, he called me up and asked if I would meet with him and just defeated senatorial candidate Tom Campbell at his Sunset Strip office.  He and Tom wanted to discuss what they might have done better to achieve a different result.  This was unusual because, most of those in the political profession are better at apportioning blame for failure while avoiding personal responsibility.

Ron was one of those rare political consultants who made the welfare of his clients paramount.  He never asked a client to do anything to win an election that he or she would not be proud of and, win or lose, his clients would gladly continue to seek his counsel.

An obituary mentioned that Ron was openly gay.  I always thought a better description was that he was comfortable in his own skin.  I suspect that what Ron would most appreciate being remembered for is the content of his character and the positive influence he had on those around him.

Ron Smith was first and foremost a terrific human being who will be missed in the political profession and in life.