It’s been a ride I never expected to take but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I may do it again in 2010, this time armed with a much better appreciation of what it takes to get a message to the voters.
The disappointment was with me late Tuesday night as we watched the results from the first polling places come in off the loading docks of the Orange County Board of Elections and display on the web.
I had visited maybe 15 polling places during the day to thank the poll workers and ask how things were going. At every polling place the workers said it was slow. One woman told me that it was the lowest turnout she’d seen in 15 years of working at the polls.
The relief at first from the constant worry over money and begging people for more led to excitement over the opportunities the run for Congress has created. It’s been up and down since.
Last night I spoke briefly at the local DFA meeting and I felt a twinge of sadness at not winning. I wanted to represent them and help get their message out to American. I now realize there are other ways I can do that.
Yesterday and today, I’ve been winding down the infrastructure that we’ve created. It’s much greater than most people realize and strangely greater than either of my two opponents. I’ll have to think about what that means as the days go by but my first thought is that the professionalism of staff and the depth of support demanded a supporting infrastructure. There was very little in place in this part of Orange County and starting from scratch takes a lot of time, money and effort.
In the end the 4 months of professional support minus the month we lost due to a personnel issue wasn’t nearly enough. I learned valuable lessons about people and about politics at the level of getting things done. They are lessons I'll use in the future.
There were many from the netroots who have supported me. I will be forever grateful for the financial and emotional help I received. When others doubted us there were about 400 from the netroots who gave what they could on more than one occasion including more than a few who set up recurring contributions through ActBlue.
I ended up loaning the campaign nearly $39,000 which I haven’t decided how to approach. I’m too worn out from the continual begging for money to do it right now. For now I want this to be a moment to express my gratitude to everyone who helped.
Then there is the group who kicked me in the butt to launch this. Let me share my email to this core group of Kossacks who made it all possible way back in July 2007 - Major Danby, clammyc, thereisnospoon, hekebolos, OrangeClouds115, occams hatchet, trashablanca, KK, Shockwave, glorianna, OnePissedOffLiberal and buhdydharma.
This was much harder than I ever imagined but I’m happy to have done it. Without you all standing behind Greg pushing me forward in the beginning I never would’ve attempted it. I certainly never would’ve gotten as far as I did. I consider the effort a success.
We made more than our share of mistakes but we had a legitimate chance. The low turnout was unique to the 42nd and is what did us in given where we were going into election day. We knew that we were late with contact and mailers and that Ed would get a certain percentage of the permanent absentee voters but we knew that if we made a certain number of contacts that we could win.
In the last week we made an incredible number of contacts. I’ll be putting out details in a post to Kos. (diary note: maybe later) We were expecting 28,000 votes and would’ve won if that many people voted. 15,500 voted. We were closing the gap but there were not enough votes to make the difference.
Also, we had no idea that a guy running this kind of campaign would get so many votes but it looks like our lack of funds to do a poll hurt more than we knew.
Snip for content I don’t want out in public
In the coming weeks I’ll be assessing opportunities that have come out of this. I’ve gotten lots of great emails and phone calls including "you’ve got to run for office somewhere" and "you’ve got to stay involved in politics somewhere" and "you’re going to run again in 2010 aren’t you". It’s much too early; I’ve got a lot of winding down to do in terms of closing down the campaign. It’s amazing the infrastructure we’ve built up that needs to be dealt with. I need to figure out what to do about the offices and the equipment and phones, etc. I’m thinking of talking to Gila and Monika about offering them for the general. (diary note: Gila and Monika are two local club Presidents who have been talking about getting offices for the general)
Anyway, after my calls to/from family and calls to Ed I wanted to make sure I let you know how important I considered you not only to the campaign but to the larger movement we started long before Obama’s plan became public knowledge and the Presidential took all the oxygen and enthusiasm from the air. Still, we had to work with what we had and I’d do it again.
We are still fighting the war. I’m by no means finished. My goals of changing the conversation and helping to change the character of our government are still intact and still worthy of pursuit. I know you are there also.
In addition to calling Ed to congratulate him and offer my help we released this press release.
ORANGE COUNTY, CA - I congratulate Ed Chau on his winning the Democratic Party nomination for Congress in the 42nd District. This was a hard-fought campaign; while of course I differ with the result, in the end I hope that my participation in this race will have made him a stronger candidate in November.
Ed has demonstrated his real strengths in retail politics in this campaign, and Ive learned a lot from watching him, that this victory means so much to them helps soften the blow of this defeat. Its time to put an end to Gary Millers confusion of his career as a developer with his actual job: representing the 42nd Congressional District and protecting the American Constitution. The strengths that Ed has shown should serve him well in his race against Gary Miller this fall. Its time to put an end to the partisan politics that enabled the destructive policies of two Bush administrations. Ed will be championing issues that are critical to a Democratic agenda. I wish him well and will of course be voting for him in November. [...]
The results came in too late last night for me to offer a proper speech at the close of the campaign, so I want to close with a great and heartfelt expression of appreciation for my supporters. Most of all, I thank my wife, Belinda, for agreeing to stand with me as I took on this great adventure. She has proven to me, once again, how lucky I have been in finding her. I thank my family, which has shown me such great support, and my longtime friends, who have done the same. My campaign workers have come from all three counties in the district and beyond; my donors, from all over the Southland and across the country; my supporters, literally from as far away as Europe, Asia, and Australia. My campaign volunteers, in particular, poured their heart and soul into this effort. I can only hope for them that the joy was not simply in the result we all sought, but in the process of standing side to side with like-minded people, working for the benefit of all. I hope they enjoyed working on this campaign as much as I enjoyed meeting and working with all of them.
I will continue working on the issues that I made the centerpiece of my campaign: ending the war, protecting the middle class, restoring fiscal sanity to government, and reasserting Constitutional rule. I look forward to a great year for the Democratic Party.- Ron Shepston
To the consternation of my campaign manager, Erik, my broader goal from the beginning was to make some noise and give voters a place to go in Orange County - that is, do some party building. I think I’ve done that. I’ve never lost sight of that through both the down and exhilarating moments.
It’s been a long race and a lot has happened in so many areas since July 2007. The blogs have changed dramatically and in some ways have become a cacophony of out-of-tune-voices singing along with a few Pavarotti-level writers and thinkers. The national political environment has changed with the rise of Obama, the fall of the economy and the drag of Iraq.
The new day I thought was dawning in Nov 2006 might actually be here. I'm excited and I'm energized to be out there making a difference in my own small way. The Orange County grassroots we have watered and nurtured has continued the work that Steve Young, Ca 48th started earlier in 2006.
We have a lot of work to do. I am not done yet.