Alan Lowenthal started his legislative career in Sacramento about the same time I started in my current position. Over the years I opposed a number of bills introduced by the Senator. The running joke in many speeches I’ve given in past years was that his name came up so frequently at my family dinner table that my children thought he was a long lost uncle. I think my record was testifying in opposition to four Lowenthal bills in one day. On the last bill of the day, as he turned from the podium after presenting it, I walked up to him and assured him I wasn’t stalking him.
But over the years, a funny thing happened as I frequently worked in opposition to a number of his bills – I grew to really like the guy.
Even if we disagreed on policy, Senator Lowenthal was always courteous, willing to listen and never turned a political fight into a personal grudge match – even though I gave him lots of opportunity and justification to do so. The civility and dignity with which Senator Lowenthal conducted himself and pursued his legislative agenda, in many respects represents a different era and value system in Sacramento. Despite his misguided politics as compared to my more rational and sober view of the world, Alan Lowenthal was always concerned about my family – which superseded any political debate. He constantly questioned me about my wife when she was being treated for breast cancer. He continues to ask about how my wife and I are managing in raising our daughter who is autistic. His concerns and questions are always posed from one husband and father to another.
As the Legislature came to a close the other day, it dawned on me that Alan Lowenthal wouldn’t be at the Capitol anymore. I would never again hear the infamous words “But John, I don’t need a bill…”
I’m going to miss the guy.