With Election Day almost here, I've been thinking about this same time two years ago--when my own name was on the ballot. When I run into people I haven't seen for awhile who ask how things turned out, I always like to say "I came in 2nd". Last week, I finally got rid of all the campaign stuff that had been sitting in the basement since then. I think of it as the final step toward closure--and clearing more space for the stuff we moved out of my late mother-in-law's apartment.
As disappointed as I was that night, looking back at how things have transpired since then, losing may have been the much better thing for me in the long run.
I got the opportunity to get back on air here at the Radio Ranch--doing what I love: informing people, making people laugh and spouting off about everything that's going on. And it's a whole heck of a lot easier than selling advertising in this economy.
While the Legislature was conducting 54-hour marathon sessions and the State Senate Democrats fled to Illinois to sit in a Rockford hotel, I was visiting my parents in Florida, playing golf and going to Disney World. I know my neighbors appreciated not having union protesters parking up and down the street and trampling across their yards to yell their chants and wave their signs outside of my house. Nobody threatened to kill me, nobody vandalized my house and the phone didn't ring constantly with complaints. Besides, the budget changes need to get the state back on track took place anyway.
And this past summer, when every day was perfect for golfing, I was out there on the links--lowering my handicap to its lowest point since when I was back in college--instead of walking down every street in the city of Oshkosh knocking on doors and handing out campaign literature. I also got to attend the Ryder Cup with my best friends this fall and have a fantastic weekend full of great (and some not so great) memories. Plus, I didn't have to make the impossible choice of dedicating time to campaigning or being there to support my wife after the last-minute loss of our adoption--and the death of her mother.
Add to that the subsequent behavior of a couple of area lawmakers--from both parties--that make you wonder if that is really the type of people you want to be associated with anyway? I think having to get up at 2:30 in the morning to go to work every day keeps you out of trouble--instead of having all of that free time away from home on your hands.
I'll always be proud of the campaign that I ran. I didn't have to pretend to be something or someone that I'm not. That included pissing off my campaign manager by returning about a thousand dollars worth of contribution checks from owners of payday lending outlets. (If you are going to talk about living debt-free, you can't support outlets that help people rack up debt). I never had to remember what I promised to certain groups around town--because my message was always the same and always what I believed.
As life sometimes proves, you can actually win big sometimes by losing.