A Note For Those Who “Did Not Win”

10 years and 2 nights ago, I had to stand up in front of my friends and family and tell them that our campaign efforts fell short, and worse, I needed them to support someone who had been our opponent just hours ago. It wasn’t easy, but we started with a goal, and he was the guy they needed to support was the only one remaining who could achieve what we wanted.

Frankly, standing there and saying that sucked.

I knew when I decided to run in a race that attracted three experienced politicians that the odds were long. When others get on board and believe in you, it’s not easy to tell them that you let them down, that the road has ended, that the campaign has no tomorrow. But if your overall goal was truly bigger than yourself, it has to be done. Leaders get the job done, no matter who takes the credit.

There is no way a candidate who has lost will take consolation calls in an upbeat manner. I had many people talk to me like I had died. Or even worse, was going to kill myself. As hard as we worked for a few months, my life wasn’t over. I tried. It didn’t work. It was time to move one. The calls were well intentioned, but reeked of pity that I wasn’t prepared or willing to receive. Enduring those for days, then weeks, was about as bad as the original concession speech to supporters.

I say that to say this: I congratulate those who tried. Few will ever understand where it is you stand tonight. Do not hold your head low for trying, for most will forever just sit on the sidelines and complain. Hopefully your efforts pulled you and others into a process that too many ignore these days. Perhaps you influenced your opponent in such a way that they will govern better. Perhaps, should you try again, you learned what will make you a better candidate next time.
And hopefully, as I did, you’ll meet new people and have a new appreciation for those who wish you well.

Tomorrow is another day, and there is a new challenge for you somewhere. Because this was not your time does not mean you cannot make your place for change either in this political system or in some other meaningful way.

Regardless, get some sleep. You’ve earned it. Then look forward and not back. Count your blessings and not your shortcomings, lest you be bitter.

Each of you, even those who have been on the receiving end of some prime Peach Pundit snark, have my sincere thanks for trying.

38 comments

  1. This was the first time I’ve ever really worked with all of my strength for a campaign. To see Eric Johnson come so close to the runoff but still end up losing was tough on me mentally and emotionally. I know that I worked my butt off for him, and if I had the chance to do it over, I would.

    Thanks for posting this, Icarus. I really needed it.

  2. EllaPatriot says:

    Thank you Icarus — you are exactly right!

    I have to say that I am dumbfounded by some of the wins tonight! It just seems the world is upside down in so many ways. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

    However, with that being said, I mean this truly — Congratulations to all who won tonight and for those that made the runoff.

  3. hannah says:

    “Trying” is not the issue. Offering oneself to serve the public is in itself a service and “They also serve who only stand and wait.” If there are not multiple candidates for a position, then the electorate has no choice.
    Of course, some people always say “I’ll have what you’re having” and then complain when they don’t like what they get.
    In any case, volunteering for public office is one of the obligations of citizenship. Since we’re a free country, we don’t coerce such service, but it’s still an obligation that more citizens should satisfy, if government by consensus is to thrive.

  4. Icarus:

    Well said and with the experience that only those of us who have stood in the shoes of a defeated candidate can ever know. Ten years ago, I also had to look my friends in the eye and tell them that our best efforts were simply not good enough that night. You are right. It sucks.

    I encourage folks that didn’t win this time to roll up their sleeves and stay involved. Work for other candidates. Help build their parties or movements behind the scenes. Come down to the General Assembly and push for the things you feel are most important. Make sure your voice is heard in other ways.

    Also, do one more very imporatnat thing. Swallow your pride and reach out to your old opponent(s) and repair hurt feelings.

    New opportunities will open up. Four years after I got beat I stood in front of the same friends with one interesting addition. The guy that beat me four years earlier was there. In fact , he had run my campaign the second time. This time, I had won — and let me tell you, winning is a lot more fun. 🙂

    Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)

    • EthicsEther says:

      With all due respect, Sir, your advanced directives and microchips bills may have impacted the thinking of some- and made them decide not to run!

    • ChuckEaton says:

      As Edward well knows, I also know what it’s like to work really hard and suffer a defeat. The hardest part for me was not really pity for myself, but I felt like I’d let the folks down who supported me.

      But a few days go by and if you got in the race for the right reaons, that knot in your stomach starts to fade. You realize your family still loves you and that dog you’ve been kicking for the last few days still wags its tail when you walk through the door.

      If you kept an open mind during the campaing, you probably developed a lot of respect for your opponent, and if you’re lucky, an eventual friendship.

  5. NoTeabagging says:

    To the candidates that reached out to the people, presented visions for the future, truthfully represented their experience, did not rely on tired party rhetoric… I applaud you. There are citizen listening to you. keep up your honorable work.

    To the candidates that got tabloid media time, bashed fellow candidates, bashed the other ‘party’, did Not present any original ides, hid ethics violations, hid campaign contribution sources and disgraced the citizens… I can only say to you, you are the reason many people are disgusted with politicians, with political campaigns, with the political parties. You are the reason for low voter turnout and apathy toward citizen involvement. You do a great disservice to the citizens of this democracy. I cannot support you.

    • EllaPatriot says:

      ” did Not present any original ides, hid ethics violations, hid campaign contribution sources and disgraced the citizens… I can only say to you, you are the reason many people are disgusted with politicians, with political campaigns, with the political parties. You are the reason for low voter turnout and apathy toward citizen involvement. You do a great disservice to the citizens of this democracy. I cannot support you.”

      EXACTLY!!!!!

  6. Jeremy Jones says:

    As being in this position for the first time, I agree with the comments. It is dis-heartening, and have been fielding calls all night/day checking on me.

    Sure, disappointment is an obvious emotion, but, the election is over. My next goal is to stay active over the next session, and get others to stay involved as well. It is easy to get fired up during an election season. Hopefully we can keep some of that fire burning all year to an even larger segment of the population.

  7. chefdavid says:

    I could have used that speech two years ago. Thanks for posting this. One of my good friends lost re-election last night and I am going to direct him here to read this.

  8. maryalice says:

    Thank you Icarus and to Jeremy Jones for the comments.
    I also lost last night, and it was a wonderful experience to get out campaign and meet new people. I will be active in the next session, too. Ever watchful of those who are elected to serve the citizens.

  9. Doug Grammer says:

    I share many of the same sentiments that Icaurus has given us. I’ll add one or two more. I’ve been involved with organized politics 22 years and I know a secret. The best candidate doesn’t always win. There can be things that happen out of a candidates control. An opponent could run a better campaign, but that doesn’t mean the would serve better than you candidate could. The county or district many not be ready for your candidate or ideas just yet.

    In 1996, I was the first GOP nominee for sole comssioner since reconstruction to run in my home county. It was an open seat and the outgoing commissioner wasn’t going to buy some needed fire trucks without both the GOP nominee and the Dem nominee’s blessings. I urged buying them until my Dem opponent joined in. We got them. As we approached the general, the second place finisher in the Dem primary run off endorsed me. I’m not making excuses, but I had some very heavy clods of mud thrown at me that stuck in the minds of the voters. As you can guess, I did not win.

    ….But in a way I did. I made many new friends and helped blaze a trail for other to go through. The second place finisher in the Dem primary decided to run as a Republican four years later. She was more qualified than I could ever think about being so I went door to door for her, waved her yard sign on election day side ny side with her, and put her bumper sticker on my car. Now I have who I think is the best sole county commissioner in the state. I think we have the lowest tax rates per capita in the state and I know our budget it’s smaller than counties even smaller than ours. If I had not have ran and tried, she may not have switched.

    Don’t forget, it took Newt three tries before he made it into office.

    • HowardRoark says:

      The “try try again” ideal is stupid on it’s face and represents everything that is wrong with our party.

      • Doug Grammer says:

        If you want to back people who don’t win and then encourage them to quit and not run again, that’s your right. If it’s what’s wrong with our party, please explain President Lincoln?

        • HowardRoark says:

          How about we just elect the right guy the first time? Your thinking doesn’t do anything but create a hierarchy that promotes losers to winner and rewards perrenial candidates regardless of merit.

          And you need to familiarize yourself with the concept of exceptions and rules.

          • Doug Grammer says:

            You need to familiarize yourself with hard work, determination, and persuasion of voters.

            Can you honestly say we elect the right guy every time with a straight face? If the right guy doesn’t win but is close, doesn’t he owe it to his supporters to keep working to try to win if he’s still (or becomes) the right guy?

            Your way of thinking leads to “I didn’t win, so I’ll take my ball and go home.” It’s called being a sore loser. If a candidate is convinced he’s the best person for the job and gives up too soon, doesn’t that mean he was more focused on himself than serving? If the voters disagree, they will show that at the polls.

            Four years ago, Ray McBerry thought he should be Governor. He got 11.6%. Now he is down to 2.5%. We will find out in four years if he still thinks he’s the best person for the job and if the voters are warming to him.

            President Reagan ran and lost. Speaker Gingrich ran and lost. President Lincoln ran and lost. Locally for me, Commissioner Heiskell ran and lost. Rep. Neal ran and lost. Sen. Mullis ran and lost. Even if you don’t agree with their policies, once they won, they impacted their communities; or for the national examples, the American way of life. Some more than others, but that’s not the point. The point is they didn’t give up at the first sign of resistance. Hard work pays off.

            • HowardRoark says:

              I’m saying there is something fundamentally wrong with our party if we require good, qualified, hard working men to spend years and years of their life running for office just to get an opportunity to serve. The fact that the best candidate has to take multiple beatings from inferiors before they finally get “their shot” is sad. And lets not forget that meanwhile, the losers (who won) are running the state into ground.

              The fact that you’re okay with this says a lot about you.

              • Doug Grammer says:

                I’d like to call you a name that referees to your lack of intelligence or reading comprehension, but I won’t.

                I am not ok with leaving the least qualified person in office and telling better qualified people not to run again. That’s your position. The fact that you don’t know what you are saying says a lot about you.

                • HowardRoark says:

                  Running for office takes time and resources, both of which are limited. Talented people have options. We won’t be able to recruit talents people to lead us if they don’t believe their talent will be recognized and rewarded. They will filter off into other areas in the private sector which are far more profitable and rewarding. That’s just the way it is. We’re not always going to get multiple chances at good candidates.

                  I’m not telling anyone to not run again. I wish they would. But I don’t expect people to sacrifce large areas of their lives for a system that rewards blind ambition (or fortunate ballot placement, or being an incumbent) over hard work and accomplishment.

                  Oh, and the whole “You’re stupid, but I’m not gonna say it b/c I’m the bigger person” line is a little childish.

                  • polisavvy says:

                    Howard, I know that we don’t always see eye to eye; but, I totally understand what you’re saying. I know a candidate extremely well who lost his race. He would have been an asset to his county (and could have made an impact for this State); however, the voters made the same, old tired decision to go with someone (the incumbent) who has had issues raised about his ethics on numerous occasions. It’s sad when someone who has so much to offer is passed over in favor of a person with a checkered past. I don’t view him as the loser — I just feel that the people will lose out in the end.

                    • HowardRoark says:

                      Well, according to Doug Grammer that’s a fine result as long as this guy is willing to give up time away from his family, job, and whatever else he enjoys to do it again 2 or 3 more times. Now SMILE AND GET BEHIND THE TICKET DAMMIT!

                    • polisavvy says:

                      Well, I certainly don’t feel the same as Doug (on most everything) and particularly on this issue. I realize that Newt took three times before he won; however, I don’t think that a lot of people are willing to make that sacrifice. It’s not just the candidate I mentioned to you but many others who did not make the runoff. Some lost to people who already have issues and haven’t ever served in an office. They are connected to unsavory-types and will, more than likely, become more unsavory than they already are.

                      There are so many times when the best person for the position loses. It makes you question politics as a whole. I wish people would actually take the time to get to know something about each and every candidate whose name appears on a ballot. That would be an ideal situation; unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sadly, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  10. Doug Deal says:

    People are turned off by the process because the voters want a long list of services delivered for free and the only politicians that can deliver that are liars.

    • Provocateur says:

      So, would you say that a vote to award Planned Parenthood $400,000+ of taxpayer money to help provide women’s cancer screenings would or would not constitute “services delivered for free?”

  11. All:

    Several of you have committed to remain active in the process and get more involved in the legislative process, and EthicsEther raised concerns about specific legislation from last year. I encourage any of you concerned about specific legislation or simply want to know how to get into the process to call my office at 404-656-5024 or e mail me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yesterday was not the end but the beginning.

    Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)

  12. slyram says:

    Well said Icarus. I like to reread a Theodore Roosevelt quote about the subject because it’s better to run and make your peace than to spend the rest of your days wondering “what if.”

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

  13. Lady Thinker says:

    Icarus,

    Should you ever run for office again, I am willing to help you and I am sure that many people on here will as well.

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