Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finally, a moment to reflect

Before I do anything else, I must extend an enormous offering of gratitude to all who assisted my congressional campaign, offered much appreciated support, and (most importantly) voted for me.

My reaction to the final vote count is a mixed bag. When you consider I spent less than $1,000 on my campaign with only $120 of it coming from cash contributions, to garner 7,499 votes in a region that votes solidly for one major party is – in itself – a notable accomplishment. But, I genuinely believed my percentage of the vote was going to reach well into double digits, as opposed to 3.74%.

In recent Gallup and Rasmussen polling roughly a week before the election, almost two-thirds of Americans believe our country’s two-party political system is failing us and harbor a strong desire to see a third party emerge that is dedicated to smaller government across the board. Which minor party might fit that description?

But as I do so frequently, I digress…

When weighing my decision to throw my hat into the political ring for the 4th congressional district, among the factors I took into consideration were two key sentiments that appeared to be trending among likely voters: the rapidly growing anti-incumbent sentiment and the already rampant anti-Democrat sentiment.

Well, I was right about the anti-Democrat perspective. Doug Litt drew less than 25% of the vote in the district. Based on past election results in addition to gauging the current mood, I was predicting he would garner below 30%.

The anti-incumbent wave, however, turned out to be little more than a pond ripple. Over the course of the year, I was bolstered by feedback from people who were steadfastly determined to support the notion of a “congressional reboot” on Capitol Hill. As one supporter put it, he was greatly appreciative of my candidacy because with me on the ballot voting anti-incumbent meant not having to vote Democrat.

I had every reason to believe many more felt the same way.

But, I cannot help but scratch my bald head at the results in other races in Ohio. In the 3rd State Senate district for the General Assembly, Libertarian challenger Bill Yarbrough was at one point polling ahead of the Democratic Party’s candidate, Mark Pfeifer, in that race. Yarbrough received 4.1% to Pfeifer’s 44.35%. What happened between August and November?

In Ohio’s 12th U.S. House district, retained by incumbent RINO Pat Tiberi, Libertarian challenger Travis Irvine had been polling as high as 10% depending on whose polling you read. Irvine received 3.23% on election day and he had run one of the most creative congressional campaigns I’d ever seen.

Both Yarbrough and Irvine were able to eventually do radio and/or television advertising.

Undoubtedly, the biggest hurdle for all of us to overcome was the fact this was the first general election in decades where Libertarian candidates could actually have a primary and appear on the November ballot with our actual party affiliation next to our names. Jeff Blevins, our second-best-performing congressional candidate with 6.63% in the 16th district, received a significant bolster from having his debate with Democratic incumbent John Boccieri aired on CSPAN. Jim Renacci, the Republican challenger who won that election, refused to participate in any debates that included Blevins.

Not being able to do any advertising myself, I had to rely on the handful of supporters lending me an occasional hand and a lot of time pounding the pavement in as many towns as I could in all 11 counties.

I wasn’t able to hit all of them, unfortunately. There were a lot of towns I wanted to and should have canvassed such as Elida, Cairo, Carey, Belle Center, Forest, Beaverdam, Harrod, and East Liberty. Should I opt to run for this office again, and of course depending on how the 4th district is reapportioned by a board that will see four out of five members from the Republican Party, I’ll have to make a point of correcting those oversights!

Still, every time I made my way through each town, I was encouraged by the feedback I received along the way. There were a couple of naysayers in face-to-face encounters, but there was an impressive lack of vitriol and venom on those rare occasions.

The most uplifting moment, though, happened ironically enough at the end of the Republican Party rally in downtown Lima that I crashed the week before the election. A fellow member of the Allen County Ohio Patriots grabbed my arm as we all were making our way to the exits and took a moment to greet me. She made a point of letting me know she was going to vote for me and concluded her comments by saying, “Because I believe in you.”

I was having one of those days when self-doubt was creeping in and left me wondering if my efforts were worth it all. I paused for a brief moment and told her, “That is the most important thing one could hear at a time like this.”

She immediately began to get choked-up and gave me a big hug. While on our way to our cars, I told my friend and campaign supporter who attended the rally with me about the exchange – and I began choking-up as well.

Between then and the election, I made a point of hitting five more towns to disburse my campaign literature.

I know there is quite a bit of discussion going around as to where the party needs to go from here. I don’t know what the future holds – either for the Libertarian Party of Ohio or my place within it. But, what I can assure to everyone is the fight for true liberty in America is just heating-up.

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