Epstein is vice chairman for communications, which is to say pitchman, for the San Francisco Republican Party. Since converting to the GOP in his late 30s, Epstein has cycled through a variety of unpaid leadership roles and played the occasional sacrificial lamb when Republicans needed someone, anyone, to stand for public office. (Personal best: 18% of the vote in a failed 2000 bid for state Assembly.) Still, it's a hobby of sorts. Epstein worked hard his whole life, he said (a paint distributorship, a janitorial supply company) and never found the time to marry and start a family. The Republican Party speaks to him with its philosophy of self-reliance and letting people keep more of what they earn, so they — not the government — can decide how to spend it. He's used to being politically outnumbered. His grandfather, who fled the persecution of Russian Jews at the turn of the 20th century, was a registered Socialist. His father was a staunch liberal: Discussing the haves and have-nots, he sounded "a lot like Obama," Epstein says, with a soft laugh.