0-2 was something a man would anonymously write to me on Facebook and via snail mail after the last election I worked on – an innocuous school board race that became downright vile.
Well joke’s on you suckah because I was actually 0-3.
Seriously it became such a running joke – along with the rumor that I worked for Stacey Abrams (call me) – that my friends made a shirt for me before I left Texas.
I took about a year off from politics. Said no to campaigns that I knew I wasn’t ready for. Set boundaries. Learned that “No.” is a full sentence. Healed a bit.
But when my former college Speech & Debate Coach asked me this past spring to run Comms. for her State House Rep. challenge to a decades-long incumbent, my full sentence was, “Yes.” This woman dedicated endless hours to my training and success in competitions. Taught me as her student in 3 different classes. It was the least I could do.
Plus, I knew she would make a damn good Rep.
Getting back to the 0-2. That was designed to hurt me. Embarrass me. Get me to bow out of politics. But I’m not ashamed of my record. Because 0-3 doesn’t tell the entire story. A loss isn’t always a loss. I believe in giving citizens a choice. I believe in running candidates in “unwinnable” districts. I believe in running regular people – not career politicians – that people can see themselves in. I believe in candidates who stick to their values – like not taking dark money – even if it means tighter budgets and more fundraising.
This recent campaign was the closest I’ve ever come to changing the balance on my record. Our candidate came within 313 votes of ousting an incumbent with deep ties to the area. And while the wins may not be perceptible to everyone, I see them. I see the people that held first-time positions on a campaign. That canvassed or phone-banked for the first time. I saw a community created. Bonds formed. Visions for what the district could be formulated. I saw an opponent forced to cancel a European vacation in order to actually campaign during a re-election bid to a formidable challenger. I saw the groundwork set for future elections.
And while she will not be the one sworn-in to the State House, the incumbent knows all eyes are on him after his slim margin of victory. Even with all the money, the endorsements, the backing of powerful individuals, the people voiced their discontent. It wasn’t a complete win for him just like it wasn’t a complete loss for us. This “loss” changed the conversation. Our “loss” did that. That doesn’t feel cut and dry to me.
Even outside of politics I’ve had other “losses” that were really blessings. Like the situation with my former employer. That felt like a massive, crushing, all-consuming loss for a time. But, in reality, having that responsibility off my plate allowed me to pause, re-evaluate what I cared about and begin to explore other interests. I got back into writing here. I started a podcast with my brother. I had time to volunteer on a campaign and reconnect with a beloved coach. And no I still don’t feel like I know where I’m going or what my future looks like, but does anyone really? No, things aren’t going the way I expected, but I think I’m becoming more ok with that.
And while I may have gotten a bit burned out from 3 straight campaigns in a row, working on this State Race has reminded me where my passions lie. And it’s not fashion. Or try-on hauls. Or makeup tutorials. Those are things I enjoy from time to time. But really it’s more the creating. Connecting. Entertaining. That’s what I enjoy. That feels more authentically me.
And discovering that is not a loss.