I first met Kam Kawata in Maine in 1983. He was working for Senator Alan Cranston's campaign for President, and I was working for Walter Mondale. And we were both running around Maine in a ridiculous "straw vote" convention campaign - running up and down the state of Maine like we were in the fight of our lives.
We were both young and full of life - and Kam's dry wit made me fall in love with him even though he and his boss were a mortal threat to the Mondale campaign at the time.
Through the years we would cross paths repeatedly -- working together in 1986 on Alan Cranston's Re-election Campaign - through late last year seeing him in the "spin room" at a debate between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown where we both shared stories and poked fun at each other for being sucked into another Jerry Brown adventure. He was so happy when Jerry won.
I loved Kam Kawata. In a business with too little honor there was nothing but a sense of uncompromising honor around him.
He was generous to a fault. I hated to be on the other side of him in a political fight. He just calmly went about his work to defeat you - but never in anger or in a way that angered.
I was shooting commercials and was jumping a plane home when I heard that Kam Kawata had passed away. At 57 Kam left at far too young an age for someone who was such a positive force in the political world.
For some reason his death hit me really hard - I am hearing that same remark from other friends who knew him. I think its because Kam was larger than life. Its just hard to imagine showing up at any California political event and not seeing him there. I am staring at my screen in disbelief.
My thoughts are with Kam's family and friends who have lost one of the biggest hearts, best political minds and generous of friends one could ever hope to know.