When I was about 24 years old I applied for a junior lobbyist position at the Florida Sheriff’s Association. At the time, I was a fundraising staffer for what was then called the House Republican Campaign Committee. Two years into my political career, mostly made up of cold calls, running errands, and bag-holding, I was ready for a promotion and a change. I was hopeful; I had many solid relationships with members of the Legislature, was qualified for the job, and had well-connected people supporting me. God had other plans though; I did not get the job and was devastated.
I often think about this time in my life when things do not appear to go my way. Had things gone the way I wanted, I would not have worked for Daniel Webster, a lifelong friend and mentor, I would not have had the opportunity to run Senate campaigns, or start a lobbying business and I certainly would have never even contemplated Contribution Link. I am so thankful I did not get that job, how different my life would be.
Everybody loves to win, but mostly we do not like to lose. There are few things in life that offer the vulnerability of public office candidacy. Your name, your past, your family, your life… everything is on display and today’s social media connectivity makes this reality even worse. Inherent in putting one’s self in the campaign ring is perhaps the biggest vulnerability of all: the possibility of loosing in a public way. Unlike advocacy issues at the Capitol, where sometimes there can be multiple winners, partial or even delayed winners, elections offer no such consolation to the losing team.
It is not just the candidates who are invested in these outcomes; many times the volunteers and staff take the loss harder than the candidate. Months and sometimes years of dedication and effort all over in one night – it is crushing; and when the sun comes up in the morning, we staffers are left with a void of purpose. Having been involved in hundreds of campaigns in my career, I have experienced the thrill of the victory and the agony of defeat, but the one thing I have learned over my 20 plus years in this business is, it is never as bad tomorrow as it seems today.
To the candidates, who offered themselves for office, and their supporters, who dedicated their skills, time, and efforts to the campaign, but came up short, take comfort and pride in the many things you did accomplish, the new friends you made, and the things you learned. To my consultant friends and their staff whose election night could have gone better, the sun does come up tomorrow, and in time, the disappointment will fade. I encourage us all to reflect on life and examine the many things we hoped would happen that did not, or the things that we hoped would not happen that did, and rest knowing that God does have a plan for us regardless of this election’s outcome. His plan is better than the one we have for ourselves.