Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Running for Congress: Primary Day, and Night

When I started this blog, I promised to document my run for Congress as best as possible. It won't be easy to recall all of the exciting elements of the experience and I may over explain some non-sense and under explain some important items. Please leave a comment if there is a hole that needs to be plugged, questions about my story or if you met me somewhere and want to add to my story, please comment. This recap may make me look like a genius or it may prove me to be the average no one I have always insisted that I am. It might help me if I ever wanted to run for office again, or it might hurt me if I ever try to run for office again but I'll at least be as honest and open as I can remember the experience. My perspective of the story might be damaging, embarrassing, insulting or give more credit than is deserved to certain individuals or it might not be any of those things and might leave out important individuals or minimize the importance of some people. In any case, what I will write as my time permits is my experience, from my perspective, and I will preface each entry in my blog on the topic of "Running for Congress" with this same disclaimer, or a like disclaimer if I think it needs to change. Here goes...
Part 1 - Running for Congress: The Beginnings
Part 2 - Running for Congress: Getting on the Ballot
Part 3 - Getting on the Sabrin Line
Part 4 - Realization that the Sabrin line meant failure
Part 5 - The Monmouth County GOP Nominating Convention
Part 6 - Meeting the Bloggers
Part 7 - The Middlesex Convention and Meeting my Opponents
Part 8 - Learning How to Campaign
Part 9 - Steve Lonegan Becomes My New Best Friend
Part 10 - Trying to Capitalize on a FEMA/”BEMA” Meeting
Part 11 - The Last of the "Big Events"
Part 12 - The Calleia Murder Trial and the Wrong Priorities in Media
Part 13 - The Door to Door Effort, and Notable Characters
Part 14 - Primary Day, and Night
Part 15 - Random Observations During the Campaign

All of this leads up to Primary Day 2008, June 3rd. I had received a voice mail from Diane Walsh, a reporter with the Star Ledger, in the morning asking where I would be to celebrating that night. I never called her back but I almost wonder if she left me the message expecting me to win, hah!

Diane had wrote one brief article covering the 6th Congressional District in the Star Ledger. The article had my picture, looking all handsome and professional next to Bob with a reflection coming off of his head and Peter looking like a circus clown, and I suppose if no one else, Diane had probably spoken to the other two candidates and had some idea what they stood for or who they were, I wonder if Peter yelled at her too?

Primary Day was no big deal for me to be honest. I voted early in the morning; was Republican number 3 to vote. My girlfriend was 2nd in line to vote, I think she voted for me and I won’t admit to bribing her with a coffee and breakfast. After voting, I went to work and wrote computer code in my cubicle, far from an outside window or a polling location. I didn’t take the day off to try to go get some last minute votes, make phone calls to registered voters or drive senior citizens to the poll in exchange for a vote. By the time Primary day came, I was either way out ahead, or so far behind it wouldn’t have mattered.

Since Primary Day was no big deal to me, I never called Diane Walsh back for two reasons. First, I was reasonably sure that I was going to lose because I was reasonably sure that Murray was going to lose and I was then reasonably sure that if people didn’t vote for Murray at the top of the line, they probably wouldn’t vote for me for Congress on the second line. Second, I was exhausted from having walked nearly every street in 17 towns (I didn’t make it to every town in the district, sorry) every day and night that I wasn’t working and was just happy to be done and be able to relax. A few extra votes wasn’t likely to make a difference at that point and I had done as much as I reasonably could have done, one more day wasn’t going to make or break a win or a loss. I had planned to have some family and friends over my house and that was all I had planned, nothing to do with newspapers or TV camera crews, suits, balloons, etc.

Of course, come primary day, as I sat in my cube at work, I was excited when I received a press release from Murray Sabrin announcing “Murray Sabrin wins NJ Senate Race” or something to the effect. I was excited for a second, then I remembered it was a Murray press release which meant it was probably untrue and a stretch of the truth. After reading it, I realized it was just Murray’s prediction of the future – and we saw how well that went with his Cowboy Cal bet and press releases.

Come Tuesday night, I didn’t even have anyone over as I had taken my puppy, Allie, to the park after work to make up for lost time with her and ended up cancelling on the few people I had invited as I instead picked a dozen or so ticks off of my black Labrador retriever’s thick fur and gave her a bath. It was an exciting primary night full of soap, water, Vaseline and tweezers, make your own joke here. (FWIW – I do put front line plus on her – only one ticked appeared to be biting her, the others were just on her, gross. I’ve since made an effort to clip her hair in one tiny spot below her collar before applying the frontline plus to get better penetration.) My girlfriend turned on NJN and we watched the results come in, or I should say, she watched the results come in as I dried my puppy with a towel, blow-dried her and brushed her hair… while pulling a few more ticks off of her; none on me, thanks for asking. I think the total number of ticks was 12, can ticks vote?

With 39% of precincts reporting, my girlfriend let me know that I was losing, somehow. Let me rephrase, I knew how, probably because of my association with Murray and the awful campaign he ran, I was losing. Not just losing to the traffic court judge, Bob McLeod, I was losing to Angry Peter as well. I kind of expected to lose in a close race to Bob McLeod because he had the party line and I didn’t get to about half of the towns in the district. I never expected to lose to Angry Peter. According to the TV reports on NJN, the “win” was official at 79% of precincts reporting with Bob McLeod winning about 55% of the votes, Peter Cerrato winning about 25% of the vote and I managed about 20% of the vote, all give or take a few percentage points as I wasn’t really paying attention. The final numbers, with all precincts reporting, seemed to be about 16% for me, which I’m happy with as I didn’t think I would get even 5% of the vote back when I decided to run.

It was a fitting finale to my campaign. While I watched the other candidates in other districts make their TV appearances and speeches in suits and ties in front of some audience at some ballroom, just as they likely announced their candidacy in some grand display, I went and sent off a few quick “thank you” emails, just the same dull way I had announced my candidacy just months before.

Having checked the news the next day, I had officially lost to both of these guys. The final split was somewhere along the lines of McLeod: 3000, Cerrato: 2000, Hogan: 1000. Oddly enough, the percentages for the three of us nearly mirrored the percentages that the Senate candidates received and even more odd, about the total number of primary voters was the same as the number of people I reached. If I was convinced that I was somehow important, I’d take credit for getting 6000 people to go vote, but instead I suspect that 6000 people I reached went to work and didn’t get to the voting booths and 6000 other people got out to vote. At least I tried, and at least I had some fun and met some great people. Best of all, since I lost, I can get back to my full daily workout routine.

Coming up next - Random Observations During the Campaign - some postcards I recieved, some phone calls I received, some emails - all while being a candidate.

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