I knew yesterday would be an interesting day around the Capitol. Transition days always are. Particularly for someone who prides himself on being one of the last connections to her past.
So it was interesting that the moment that clarified the day came in an unsuspecting moment on an unsuspecting topic. Newly elected Speaker Atkins gave a great speech. And she quite effectively checked off every box on her list without losing her central theme. One of those boxes was noting the fact she was the first Speaker from San Diego, completing the “California Triple Crown” for the city.
And that is the moment that struck me. Because for those with no sense of history the fact that San Diego is even competitive for Democrats is a monumental achievement. And a huge part of that achievement should rightfully be credited to one man… Bill Cavala. If you don’t know who Bill was, I’m not going to teach you. If you think you are an expert on California politics and have not heard the name, find something else to do for a living.
I could tell you a lot about Bill. But I will tell you just three things. One. The scariest moment in my career was when he announced he was leaving the Assembly, called me in his office, and told me that it was my job to take over for him making sure Democrats didn’t mess up the state’s election’s laws. Two. One on the proudest moments in my career was shortly after he passed when I went to a small sign shop on J St. to pick up a small wooden sign that relatively few will see but which marked the conference room at the Speaker’s Office of Member Services as Bill’s room. Three. Speaker Atkins wouldn’t be Speaker without Bill’s efforts to turn San Diego blue long before that was even considered a rational thought.
As I was sitting on the patio at Chops. Talking to a former member. Talking about how the building had changed since term limits. Talking about the opportunities to new members under extended term limits to recapture what was lost. Talking about the opportunities and dangers that face Speaker Atkins. I remembered my old friend. I remembered an old friend to so many of us. And I hoped more of us would remember.