So, I lost my race for Council in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
As many good Democrats did nationally (and a few bad ones, I might add), and in different parts of New Jersey. In the end, I finished with 1,208 votes, or about 27% of the vote in a 3-way race. I finished 4th out of 6, beating the two Independents. My running mate, Linda Weber did much better, drawing 1,762 votes and missing a Council seat by less than 400 votes. In a different year (2006 or 2008), she would have won.
The Republican tide in Berkeley Heights was extensive. In a town that gave McCain 55% of the vote in 2008, this shouldn't be surprising.
Linda's showing was the best for a Democrat on the ballot, out of about 4500 votes cast. Turnout was lower in the end than I expected, based on what I was seeing.
Lesson #7: Turnout will always be lower than what you're seeing in your mind's eye. (previous lessons were in my earlier diary on the campaign)
While the candidate I was supporting for Mayor won (there was no Democrat running), so did both Republicans running with him. Unfortunately, one was the fellow who said "going door-to-door doesn't matter", and the other is from the "old guard" camp in Berkeley Heights.
Lesson #8: Never underestimate the value of name recognition, especially "ethnic" name recognition. The "old guard" candidate's family has been in Berkeley Heights for over a century, and had run twice before and lost.
Last night, when Linda and I talked to our supporters, I said to them, "Tonight is not the end of our efforts in Berkeley Heights. It is just the beginning." This was only the second time in recent years that two Democrats had run for Council without depending on the right-wing "old guard" for crossover support.
In 2007, our two candidates got 850 and 700 votes respectively. This year, we got 1762 and 1208. That's what I call progress! In 2007, I was the only non-candidate at our election night "gathering". Last night, over 20 of us was there. That, too is progress in my book!
To all of you here at Daily Kos who encouraged me, I thank you. My especial thanks to the Daily Kos "diary rescuers", for posting my articles on the front page, and to everyone who encouraged me "offline", but who are a part of this community.
If I had to do it all over again, I would without thinking twice. I know many candidates who have ran once, lost and never ran again. I'm not saying I will run in 2011 - I have too much to do in school right now to even think about it.
One way or another, however, you'll see me on the ballot in June 2011. I'm running for County Committee in Berkeley Heights, and - as you might expect - I'm running to win. My Municipal Committee is in need of new blood, and I'm going to work hard to elect activist-minded Democrats to the Committee.
(To put in perspective, of the 19 Committee members we currently have, out of 22 potential ones, just 8 did anything to actually help the campaign.)
Finally, Lesson #10 (the last one):
Berkeley Heights - and this country at large - is worth fighting for, even if you lose the first battle.
Linda, our supporters and I knocked on over 2400 doors in the final count, and we met so many wonderful people in the process. From diehard Democrats to skeptical Independents, and everyone in between, I enjoyed learning more about my town and the people in it. In the process, I learned so much about human nature and the value of empathy - of caring about what other people expect and need from you. As I said, I wouldn't have skipped this experience for anything!
Now, some thank yous of my own. First, to Linda Weber - a wonderful running mate and a great mentor. Not only did we work well together despite knowing each other for just 10 months, but she taught me how to knot a tie correctly. :) I guarantee you that you'll see Linda on a Council ballot in Berkeley Heights again someday.
To Liza Hecht, Linda's dear friend and our campaign manager. Liza wrote herself in and was elected to the County Committee in Millburn this year. She came to Berkeley Heights and helped us keep on track, went door-to-door with us and made hundreds of calls - all while taking the New Jersey Bar Exam! She is truly a "mensch" in my book.
To my parents, who despite their initial unease with my running - because let's face it, who wants their child to be verbally abused by other people? - proved to be more than supportive. My Dad helped me put up my signs, and my Mom spread the word everywhere she could. I love you both!
To my friends, new and old, that helped me in this campaign: Governor Dick Codey, Meera Rao, Juliette Campasano, Howard and Betty Geminder, the Drew University Democrats, Chris Minitelli and Jamie Cadavid.
Jamie is a special story: I met her on October 21st this year, when she came to the League of Women Voters debate for our town.
Not only did she decide to vote for me and Linda then and there, but this veteran of Democratic campaigns in North Carolina and Maryland immediately offered to help. Jamie and I covered her district last weekend (along with Meera) with great success, and I no doubt won several votes that I would not have gotten thanks to her. To top it off, Jamie went out Monday night and knocked on more doors that we had missed that weekend!
In a few days, Jamie will be named as the Committeewoman for the vacant position in her district. She definitely deserves it!
Ok...so I wrote more than I thought I would. I certainly write (and talk) a lot, but I also care a lot as well - about my town, my country and my Party.
Thank you for reading and following my campaign. You certainly haven't read my last diary on Daily Kos!