Kam Kuwata was a genuinely nice man. The Democratic political consultant was a great strategist who had a passion for the political arts. He and I were on the opposite sides in campaigns a number of times including the high-speed rail bond and the San Fernando Valley secession effort, to name a couple. As with all the campaigns he worked on, he loved the politics and the strategy.
Kam spoke to my Pepperdine public policy class last fall and I had him on my list to invite back when I heard the terrible news of his sudden passing.
Over dinner after the class, he spoke of the exhausting grind of running then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver. But he was up to the hard task, not surprising for a guy who would wake as early as three in the morning to begin catching up with overnight political stories.
Kam was a key strategist for numerous candidates and ballot measures, but was most notably attached to the campaign successes of U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein. When I suggested over that dinner last year that perhaps Senator Feinstein would not make another run for office in 2012, Kam disabused me of the notion and said that he was already readying himself for the campaign.
A number of years ago, I introduced Kam to Bruce Herschensohn, one time Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Bruce and I were at the same conference at an Orange County hotel and Kam happened to be at an event in the hotel. When I told him that Bruce was there, Kam asked to be introduced. He wanted to meet Bruce and share some stories even though he had to wait around for a time until the opportunity arouse. Kam never saw political opponents as enemies.
A big man physically, he was soft spoken with a great wit and would critique friends as well as foes. In a profession that could use more straight talkers, one of the best is gone.