I must admit that it takes a long, long time to run for governor.
I must also thank all who were kind enough to vote for me, volunteer, give donations and all the other things which go into a campaign. Sadly, I was unable to win so as to deliver on their belief in me. Suffice it to say, we ran an honorable campaign as we have run an honorable Treasurer’s office. Somehow, that got lost in the shuffle.
I have people suggesting all the various reasons I might have lost. If I may run through the various reasons why I lost, you can pick and choose which ones you think are valid or not:
It was a Democratic year nationally, and that sentiment bled right on down to local races.
We were outspent six to one.
An incumbent has the powers of incumbency, which help, especially when well financed.
The governor’s $50 million war chest.
Some $14 million of that war chest generated a record-breaking 20,000 negative ads against me.
The presence of a Third Party candidate who could siphon off votes.
The constant battle of Right Wing vs. Moderates in the GOP.
Single issue constituent voting
Contributions by the business community were small to lacking; the same goes for unions, by and large.
Promises or contributions from national GOP organizations late and small.
Honesty in promises vs. “feel good” promises do not connect.
Let me talk about negative ads, for a bit. The public hates them, and I hate them, too. Everyone hates them. But, negative ads do sell and change public opinion. Hence, they will continue to be used and will continue to generate a whole industry based on negative research. The object of the exercise is to villify one’s opponent, define them negatively, and if enough money is put behind them, make those definitions stick. Negative ads were used all over the country. And sadly, they will continue to be used in elections. Short of a lawsuit for slander, which is hard for a public figure to win, any attempt to limit them will probably buck the First Amendment. So, hold on to your hats as there will be more to come in future elections. One needs money to fight back.
And, now about money. Both political parties seek “self funders,” which translates into candidates who are independently wealthy and can carry on their own campaigns without having to depend upon contributions. It’s now all about money. Non-millionaires must seek contributions. There are honest ways to do this, and some ways which are subject to question-as the U.S. Attorney just noted in coming down on former Gov. George Ryan, with investigations roiling around the current administration. The only way money can be knocked out of the system so as to make things fairer would be public financing of elections. But then, we still would have the millionaire to contend with as with his/her own money, no rules would exist, thus giving them the edge in any campaign. Does this mean that the day of the ordinary person seeking public office is over? Could be.
I would have liked to have won as I have some ideas on how to make the state and peoples’ lives better. But, losing still could not deny my wonderful 30 some years of public service and the joy of helping people through a variety of offices. It was a great journey, with thousands of people met, helped and befriended along the way. What a wonderful privilege.
So, to the public, thanks for the opportunity to serve. I only feel bad that I won’t be around to help people in the future, nothing more. I also encourage young people to get involved, be the next generation to serve, to beat the odds, to fight for their beliefs and to stand for honest government. It is a worthy cause in a republic, maybe the only cause.