Elected officials from the national to the local level have expressed shock at the death of long-time Democratic political strategist Kam Kuwata, who was found dead in his Venice condominium on Monday. He was 57.
The cause of death has yet to be determined, but the LAPD said it does not suspect foul play.
Following are some of the tributes that have been issued.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky: “Kam was the kind of person I thought would be around forever, a constant presence on the political scene. There was a certain honesty about Kam that you didn’t find in too many people. I will never forget the twinkle in his eye when he was trying to persuade someone to support his candidate or his point of view. He could fight with the best and hold his own, but it never prevented him from maintaining a relationship with his adversary once the fight was over. He was a great friend to me and Barbara. I will miss him dearly.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “Kam gave a lifetime to politics and public service. My prayers are with his family and large network of colleagues and friends during this difficult time.”
Assembly Speaker John Perez: “Today I rise in memory of Kam Kuwata, who was sadly found dead today. Kam was a political genius who shared his talent and conviction with candidates and causes in Los Angeles and all of California and across the country.
“Kam died unexpectedly at home, a loss his family and friends are still reeling from. Kam was a Democratic political consultant for more than 25 years.
“He was the brains — and the heart — of many successful campaigns, particularly those of California Sens. Alan Cranston and Dianne Feinstein.
“Kam also performed admirably for President Obama, Sen. Daniel Akaka (of Hawaii), (former Los Angeles) Mayor Jim Hahn, (former) Rep. Jane Harman, (the late former Lt. Gov.) Leo McCarthy, (former Gov.) Gray Davis, and many others.
“He was a proud graduate of USC, and known to enjoy a fine cigar and perhaps a glass or two of Makers Mark.
“Kam often referred to himself as a hack — but he was anything but. He backed up his campaign skills with deep knowledge and strong beliefs.
“He was respected and admired by many — including his contemporaries, his clients and those he had mentored to become the next generation of committed and caring political consultants.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his vast extended political family.”
Gov. Jerry Brown: “Kam Kuwata was a knowledgeable and insightful voice in California politics. His analytical skills, coupled with his gentle approach to a tough business, earned him the respect and friendship of his allies and opponents alike. Kam’s wisdom and graciousness will be missed.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer: “I am saddened by this tremendous loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. I will forever be grateful to him for the masterful work he has done for Sen. Feinstein and so many other candidates and causes over the years. I will miss his brilliant mind, his sense of strategy and his quick wit – all of which he used to help keep the American dream alive for all Californians and all Americans.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “I am deeply saddened at the passing of Kam Kuwata. California has lost a sharp political mind, and I’ve lost a loyal and dear friend of more than 20 years. Kam managed my first Senate campaign in 1992. We went through a lot together in those days, and no matter the circumstances, I could always rely on Kam’s great sense of humor, his good advice and his compassion for the people of California. He was respected by people in politics and journalism, something I always thought spoke volumes about the kind of person he was. I am shocked by Kam’s death and reminded at how short life is. There will never be another like Kam, and I will miss him.”
President Barack Obama: “I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Kam Kuwata. Kam’s brilliance as a political strategist was matched by his passion for our country and the process by which we govern ourselves. I’ll never forget the critical contribution Kam made to our efforts in 2008, planning an open, vibrant convention that really captured the spirit of our campaign. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Kam’s extended family of friends and to so many in California who mourn his passing.”
Kuwata specialized in strategic planning, media coordination, and press and message development. In 2008, he served as the program director for the Obama campaign at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. That same year, he was the campaign manager for the successful high-speed rail bond measure on the California ballot.
In 2004, Kuwata ran the education bond (Proposition 55) campaign in California. He ran statewide campaigns and served as a consultant for the Democratic Party in both California and Hawaii. Among the candidates he helped was the late Rep. Robert Matsui of Sacramento.
The defeat of San Fernando Valley’s attempt to secede from Los Angeles in 2002 is regarded as one of Kuwata’s major accomplishments.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kuwata was born in the Bay Area and raised in Sierra Madre by a single mother whose internment during World War II sparked his interest in civil rights.