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It's election night. In New York City, there will be a new mayor. In New Jersey, the Governor is sticking around. In Virginia, the race is too close to call. If you've read my blogs, you may have noticed that I tend to stay away from controversial contemporary matters. I'll stick with that theme and not weigh in on the larger matters. Instead, I want to give a nod of thanks to the countless candidates who ran and will wake up tomorrow...unelected. They are the also rans. For some, it may be the beginning of a brilliant political career. For others, they never stood a chance. There are those who ran at the urging of friends and neighbors. Then there were the candidates who barely got on the ballot. Still others were running on a single issue. Whatever their reason, I say to all who ran and did not win, thanks.
Thanks for getting involved in the process. Thanks for giving up nights and weekends to walk your neighborhood, knock on doors, pass out literature and update your website. Thanks too to your families for supporting you in this noble endeavor. I do not use the word "noble" lightly. I think democracy is a noble thing. (We don't always treat it that way, but that is a subject for another day.) This noble thing only works when people are willing to get involved, spend their time and money, energy and passion to pursue public office.
I especially want to tip my hat to those local candidates. They had no press secretary, gave no stirring ovations to packed halls and thunderous ovations. Not one talking head offered any comments on their platform or their "story." There were no fancy fund-raisers in some swank hotel ballroom, more like a keg of beer in bar's backroom. Maybe they made up lawn signs. Now that the election is over they have the melancholy task of taking them all down. There are those who subscribe to the expression I said in school years ago, "Elections come and go but the campaign never ends." For some of the also rans, this may be true. They will collect their signs with the care of a rare book and stack them securely in their garage for the next race. I suspect that most of the also rans will "retire" from public life and never seek the ballot again. I hope they save at least one sign. It's a memory they have earned the right to keep.
Or maybe not. As I write this, I think about the candidates who are bummed out that they lost. The more I think about this, it may be the case that they are happy as clams. Maybe once they got a taste of politics and government, they decided it was not for them. Or perhaps it was missing ballgames and scout meetings, of coming home to a house with everyone asleep while the candidate was out at another "forum," speaking to the same 18 people at the last two events. And by the way, all 18 had already voted by absentee ballot.
Whatever the reasons for their defeat or their feelings about the outcome, their race is over. So long as they honored the process of running an honest campaign, then they all deserve our thanks. I hope that the winners will consider asking these former candidates to serve on boards and other civic work. Even if the campaign was less than (ahem) cordial, put aside the personal feelings. Who knows, maybe the irritation the winner felt on the campaign trail to his or her opponent was something more. Perhaps it was fear that they might lose to this challenger. If so, good. That means you, Mr./Ms. Elected Official had to work hard to win the election. Your opponent brought out the best in you on the campaign trail. Now bring that person, the also ran, into the governing process. We'll all be better for it.
Be well my friends,