The words "moderate Republican" are not often used together these days. There might be an exception or two in the current California delegation. One could be Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock.
He voted for the fiscal cliff legislation, saying after the vote that the legislation would help his San Joaquin Valley district. A mere 3 percent of the households in Denham's district earned more than $200,000 in 2011, far below the statewide percentage, The Bee's Reese found.
Policy considerations aside, a "no" vote on budget-related legislation almost always can help Republican politicians burnish their conservative credentials. And there were plenty reasons to oppose the bill.
Republicans, McClintock among them, decried the lack of spending cuts. Some complained that taxes would rise for some people. Architects of the bill had larded it up with tax breaks for favored industries: Hollywood, NASCAR, and my personal favorite, rum producers.
It all gave McClintock plenty of reasons to oppose the measure. But his vote also was in character. First elected to the state Assembly in 1982, McClintock never rose to a leadership position, and routinely voted against annual budgets.
His cramped style of politics serves his interests well, if not his constituents. He has built a national following among conservatives, and he won re-election in November with 61 percent of the vote in a newly redrawn Congressional District 4.
His new district includes much of what makes California golden, and encompasses Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park, ironic given his dim view of environmentalist-backed legislation.
Voters in the new district overlooked that he remains registered to vote in Elk Grove, which is 30 miles away from the eastern edges of the district and 200 miles away from its farthest reaches south of Yosemite.
In Congress, McClintock chairs the House Water and Power Subcommittee. But he has not used that post to help the region obtain funding needed to rebuild Sacramento River levees to avert a flood that would be disastrous for the people of Sacramento. Other members of the Sacramento region's congressional delegation have said he is absent on the issue.
McClintock long aspired to statewide office, running for controller, lieutenant governor and governor. In his 2003 run for governor, he handed out coffee mugs on which he printed his first morning's to-do list: "Stop the car tax." "Void overpriced power contracts." "Fix workers' comp." "Have lunch." The funny thing is that it wasn't a joke. The list reflects McClintock's style. He is a one-man operation in a business that relies on compromise. The problem now is that other California Republicans in Congress appear to be coming around to his way of politicking.
Follow Dan Morain on Twitter @DanielMorain.
THE SACRAMENTO BEE