We Raised the Bar

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I hate to lose. A lot. It’s perhaps an unhealthy passion that drives me to push myself and those around me to strive for more than what most people believe is possible. However, in the wake of yesterday’s defeat, I can truly and honestly say that I am proud of the Friends of Barranda campaign.

Few people truly know the whirlwind of feelings that a candidate feels while running a campaign. It’s a roller coaster of emotions as the candidate attempts to reconcile an intense range of emotions while trying to juggle family, work and public service. That being said, I will also not profess to know what it is like to experience being a family member of a political candidate. But in this morning after the election, I do want to reflect on what I found to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Last year I announced my intentions to run despite fully knowing the mountain of obstacles that we would face in this challenge. And while the honor and privilege of serving my fellow citizens as State Representative was the ultimate goal, I fully understood that the true victory was not in my personal accomplishment, but rather in striving to establish a higher level of political discourse that I knew my community desired. As I stated at the time, the goal was “to engage those members of the community that yearn for more substance from political platforms. Substance that is driven by tangible results in the community – not driven by the ballot box.” (Announcement)

Predictably, the state party establishment backed the incumbent – with endorsements from the likes of Governor Pence and Congressman Stutzman to a host of outside political action committees. Tens of thousands of dollars flowed into my opponent’s campaign. But through it all, our message remained the same. The citizens of OUR community demand better. And they did.

We worked to bring in hundreds of small donations to maintain a respectable budget. We didn’t get on TV, but we were able to directly target a core of 4,000 voter households that I was committed to personally engaging. From personally knocking on their doors, personally writing 3,500 note cards and sending direct mail pieces, we continued to hammer our message home.

So how can we find solace, even pride, in a narrow political defeat? The proof is in the numbers. Of the total of 7,250 votes cast in the 84th District we earned 3,500. In 2012’s Primary Election, which included a presidential race, there were 6,856 votes cast. It doesn’t take a political wonk to appreciate what it takes to motivate voters to turnout more for this year’s race than during a presidential primary. Indeed, 3,500 votes would have won the primary in the 84th District in 2012 or any other previous year.

Rest assured that I do not need a title or an office to hold my head up high today. What the results tell me is that we moved the bar. We changed the standard for what political candidates can say or do. We served a greater good. OUR community challenged the establishment to demand more from political office and political discourse. I have no doubt the message came through loud and clear in the 84th District. Our community will be better for it. I continue to wish Rep. Morris and his friends and family well. We are all a part of a community that we serve to make better.

There is a huge list of people to thank. Both for their individual support of me, but also for their roles in what I truly believe has made our community a better place. In due time, I will make my way to thanking each of you. But today I will simply thank my wife. Because if you think that I took on an enormous undertaking, you can only imagine what that must have meant for her.

So let’s hold our heads up high today. I most certainly will.

-Michael