Thursday, December 30, 2010

Don't Cry for Me, America

I’ve received an outpouring of emails, tweets and Facebook messages since losing my bid for Congress in the last few days.  I am truly grateful.  Thank you, to everyone, who contacted me after the race was over and also to everyone who sent along encouragement throughout the race.  Your words were truly touching.

In nearly all of the emails, though, there is a theme that speaks of “next time” I run.  Some even suggest I run for a higher office!  It seems that folks assume that another campaign is something that will naturally come next.  That is where the disconnect lies, I guess.  So, I’m writing this to help folks understand what I apparently did not clearly communicate during the race.  Here it is… Being an elected official is not my heart’s desire, affecting public policy is.  And, there are a myriad of good ways to do that besides being elected.  My plan is to go forward in one of those “other” ways now.

Since the beginning of my political career, I have been motivated by an intrinsic need to always be productive and to be moving toward some goal.  I want to make a difference and have my life on this earth be one of purpose.  In the realm of politics, that goal is to see the conservative ideals of limited government and personal freedoms win out over the collectivist and socialist movement that is tearing away at our nation’s foundation.  But, the mode of elected office was always just a tool for accomplishing my goal of making a difference.  It gave me a vote on public policy as an Arizona legislator and a voice to inform citizens and to hopefully be a thought leader for the conservative cause.

Being elected was a necessary role to play in order to be able to cast a vote on public policy issues I believe affect the lives of Americans and to help people have access to their government that almost seems convoluted by design.  I was willing to play the part and do the necessary work of getting elected so that I would have the opportunity to do the REAL work of thoughtfully reading and considering legislation.  My greatest joy, though, was in helping constituents weave through government red tape through the power of my office.

It was a great experience being elected to my state legislature.  I like to believe I made a difference and set the standard a little higher, while hopefully giving courage to others to also be “real” in their dealings.  The work I did with multi-state policy organizations allowed me to build friendships with state legislators all across this nation that I cherish.  I also like to believe I made a difference in these policy groups, too, passing free market based model legislation and participating in the debate with representatives from many states.  But unlike many candidates out there who recently lost their elections, I am not gearing up for another run.

Running for Congress in 2010 (though I lost) was a life experience I will always cherish.   I am confident that my conservative principles are not what kept me from being elected.  It wasn’t my hard work and reputation as an articulate and principled leader on conservative policy issues that pushed away votes.  Voters didn’t say “no” to me because of my solid voting record or my remarks at debates.  All of that was well received.  Rather, the voters chose a well-funded candidate who they heard from frequently throughout the race because that candidate had a war chest of campaign cash with which to communicate regularly with voters.  Pure and simple.  Voters wanted what I represented, but they just didn’t know I existed because the money wasn’t there to reach out and tell them.

In spite of the funding shortfall I ran with, I count my blessings.  The new friends of like patriotic mind that I came to know because of this congressional run make up a varied and incredible network of talented and committed Americans.  These are people that most voters have no idea are even out there.  But, thank God they are!  I will be looking for ways I can help future conservative leaders to overcome their own funding deficits in the coming months with this talented group of patriots.  I learned a lot that should not go to waste and I am looking for an outlet to share it all with good conservative candidates who are still in the fight.

There is also a chance that my unique call-it-like-I-see-it commentary will find an audience so I can continue to inform voters.  After all, once you see the puppet strings, you never believe the puppet’s dance is his own again.  Having been there, I watch American politics with an intimately informed eye.  Now that I am a private citizen, you might be interested to see what I see with the benefit of the “back story” on things not seen in public.  Keep watching.  Heck, maybe I’ll write a book.

Bottom line? I love America, consider her worth fighting for, and intend on remaining a voice in the mix if folks still want to listen.  And, my campaign team and supporters gave it our all.  We did amazing things with very little money.  I believe we inspired many along the way.  I am very interested in remaining a force for good and helping to strengthen this momentum for the rebuilding of America.  And, I am hoping to be able to do that without running for office.

So, while I have learned to never say “never” - my garage will no longer have the “campaign materials storage” area set aside as it has since 2003 when I first began running for office.  It is time for someone else to step up and run.  I’m hoping to enjoy being a private citizen for a while and reacquaint myself with family and friends.  I am thrilled, for instance, to finally be able to volunteer some time for my son’s football booster program.  Look for me happily selling Snicker bars and bottled water to Boulder Creek Jaguars football fans from the concession stand.

P.S. I will also need a paycheck, so if you know anyone that can use my skill set, network, and knowledge of public policy, please pass my name along. And, if you’re a publisher and want a great story written, boy do I have an interesting story to tell! 

Originally published on - Monday, August 30, 2010

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