Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coping with the post-election blues

I’m usually depressed after an election. The candidates I support often don’t make it. This year my major disappointment was down ballot. I was reconciled to the idea of Tom Wolfe’s winning the gubernatorial race and I expect he will be a strong general election candidate.

However, I saw this election as an opportunity to elect several seriously good candidates to the state legislature and most of them lost. Sure, it was very disappointing but I don’t see this as the worst night for progressives in recent memory.

There is a real case to be made that the glass is half-full. Many good candidates lose their first run for office. The first run raises their profile and gives them an opportunity to hone their skills as campaigners. Young progressives like Brian Gralnick, Emily Rodriguez, Jared Solomon, and Billy Smith will in all probability run for public office again. These candidates are not going away.

As Emily Rodriguez put it in an email to her supporters:
That was the question my neighbors kept asking when I left my house yesterday, the morning after the election: "I voted for you, Miss Emily. Did you win?"

Not at the polls, but everywhere else we went, it's a resounding yes.

We ran a great campaign defined by integrity and respect, and we can all be proud of the seeds of hope that were planted in North Philadelphia.

To every voter, volunteer, donor, and cheerleader, thank you. Thank you, Karen. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and for being there with me and my team throughout this journey.

Until next time, if you need me I'll be out in the community doing the same work I would have done if elected, equipped with new knowledge and new ideas, thanks to this race. I'd call that a win.
We need to support talented young progressives—even if we expect they won’t win the first time. I knew that Emily Rodriguez and Brian Gralnick (and others) were long shots, but when there are young progressive candidates, with their intellect, knowledge of issues, commitment to public service, I want to support them as an investment in the future. Actually, given that Brian Gralnick had no backing from elected officials (other than 9th ward committeepeople), he did quite well for a newcomer.

The newspaper headlines focus on the negative— “Most newcomers lose to party and union backing” , but the news articles describe the seeds of change. As challenger Tomas Sanchez put it:

"This was never about how other people would interpret what we were doing," he said. "We have a long-term strategy that will become apparent more and more over the years."

…"We showed people that we have courage," Sánchez said. "I see this growing. ... I'm not happy with the leadership in my community."

Another hopeful sign, in Philly we have a lot more young progressives who ran for committeeperson this time with an eye to building the infrastructure we’ll need to actually elect progressive candidates. Also, there were far more write in-candidates this time. Jon Greeting's interactive map letting people know where there were vacancies was a tremendous resource. There actually was a buzz about running for committee person. Is running for committeeperson becoming a cool thing to do?

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