A toast to those with the courage to say ‘vote for me’

August in Michigan brings an election to our front door steps. The August primary is upon us and while many politicos see this as the warmup to the November general election shindig, many forget this week will be the end of a number of campaigns.

The end of the road is a tough thing to face when you’re a candidate. In some cases, it’s the completion of the “Green Mile” because you’re fighting against a well-funded incumbent and you’ve been walking uphill the entire way. In other cases, it’s a coronation and the completion of a campaign plan that worked perfectly.

Everyone who runs will be able share interesting stories about campaigning door-to-door – dogs barking, doors slamming, people showing up in just a towel, and other fun things. There’ll be stories about beautiful houses. There’ll be stories about never ending driveways with inclines that make the shins burn. Some will be humorous and some will be sad. But there will always be stories.

I have worked campaigns for people throughout the state. I can share stores about offers of Jack Daniels and lemonade; of a woman wishing to surprise her significant other on a hot summer day and how she turned beet-red when she realized I wasn’t him; stories of German shepherds finding my arm more tasty than a dog biscuit. I wonder, however, how many of the stories end with people who say to a candidate “Thank you for running.” I imagine there won’t be much of that.

Many of these legislative districts are drawn so that the election is determined on filing day. Many are determined by who wins in August. Sometimes, an incumbent may shrug their shoulders and curse the “annoyance” of having to even bother with the primary. Of the seven legislative districts that impact Kalamazoo county (U.S. House 6, Michigan Senate 20 and 26, Michigan House 60, 61, 63 and 66), there are contested primaries in five of them, involving 11 people.

There are two things that voters should remember when it comes to Aug. 5. First (and foremost), get out there to vote. Even if there’s only one person on the ballot, the opportunity to exercise our right to choose is one that we too easily take for granted. Second, these candidates have invested their time and energy to knock on your door, to meet you, to get to know you. We should be grateful for that.

By now most of our readers know the story of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s a guy who lost more elections than he won. Lincoln suffered from intense episodes of depression and yet, he is considered to be the greatest president of the United States. It’s a common story shared with those who we ask to try and try again. In my political career, I am 3 for 3 when it comes to the August primary. I am 0 for 3 for the general election. If I have to hear the story of Abraham Lincoln one more time...

But the words “Thank you for having the courage to run” do more for building a candidate’s perseverance than anything else. It recognizes the courage it takes to face the unknown, the courage to serve the public more so than oneself.

So, to Fred Upton, Jim Bussler, Margaret O’Brien, Ron Zuiderveen, Dave Buskirk, Pamela Brown Goodacre, Jon Hoadley, Brandt Iden, Phil Stinchcomb, Dave Maturen, Vic Potter, and all of the candidates who are facing a contested election this week, thank you very much for giving us a choice. No matter what happens Tuesday night, you will have much to be proud of.

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Barry Visel
Mon, 08/04/2014 - 1:39pm
Nice commentary. Well done.