Election Day - Tuesday, November 7, 2006
There isn’t a whole lot to do on Election Day other than clip your toenails and wash your brush and your comb. You wait around all day not knowing what is going to happen and there are no results reported until the polls begin to close at 8:00 P.M.
Towards evening, my friend Carmen Clark came down from Madison to spend the evening with me, and my daughter Kerry came from Madison, also. We met at a friend’s house and we all went to Racine to say hello to Congressman Paul Ryan, who we knew would be victorious. His party was at the Marriot in Racine.
Then we went to visit Perfecto Rivera, who was up against Gwen Moore, Congresswoman from the 5th District, at Desperados Restaurant in Milwaukee. He had some wonderful Mexican food for all the guests. We were hoping for Perfecto to win but he didn’t have a very good chance with Gwen because she is very hard to beat. At least he was in there trying.
Then we went to Flannery’s in downtown Milwaukee to visit Sheriff David Clarke and his friends in the Democratic race—I just wanted to say hello. Sheriff Clarke walked away with over 200, 000 votes. That is amazing! I was so thrilled that almost everyone in that room—and they were all Democrats—said they had voted for me, even Sheriff Clark and his whole family. What an honor!
So, by the time we got to the GOP Waukesha victory party, I didn’t realize that the AP had already named Mark Green the loser and Jim Doyle the winner. And the writing was on the wall that I would lose, also. They suddenly asked me to come up to speak and I didn’t realize the results were almost all in so I talked as though we were winning and I am sure many felt that I was out of my mind.
I will always recall the sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when the results came. However, it was another hour before they called my race and said that LaFollette had won. I kept thinking that some great miracle was going to happen and the tides would change--I would win! I guess that is called never giving up hope.
Eventually I made the obligatory phone call to Mr. Lafollette, to wish him well. I hope I did it graciously. I pray that he does well and that he is mindful that he needs to be more visible to the people and try to extend himself to them. I hope he realizes that he was elected because of a tremendous Democratic turnout protesting the war and not because of him.
I received almost 800,000 votes, which equals about 20 percent of the population voted for me. I am honored. I was thrilled to receive 38% of the vote for the first time out, and against a 28-year incumbent. Everybody said my showing was really good, especially considering the media smears.
So I experienced a loss, but it was truly a win because I learned so much from the campaign.
I also want to point out that so much goes into electioneering, so much hard work. Yet, when you look at the overall picture, all the candidates—-no matter what party-—they all work very hard trying to get elected. When it’s over, we all look at each other, we shake hands, we say “OK, all the mud has been slung, all the arrows have been shot,” but we remain Americans. Then we sit down and say, “Now, where do we go from here? Let’s move on; let’s get busy; let’s go to work.” I think that’s the greatest part of this country—we realize our differences, we acknowledge that the people have spoken, we agree in part that we must work together, so we roll up our sleeves and go to work. We are Americans! God bless us all!
So this is almost the end of my campaign blog. I was defeated by about 300,000 votes. I am rather proud of those numbers. Though I was defeated for the office of Secretary of State, I think I am a winner. I was brave, I fought the good fight and I’m still here.
Tomorrow is filled with possibilities. There’s always another election if I should choose to run. But for now I can truly say that I am victorious and have gained so much in this effort. I won because I exercised my rights as a citizen to join in and go through this marvelous process. I realize that few people have the stamina, desire or will to run for office and I have developed a new-found respect for all who take on the challenge. God bless them! The public has little idea of the sacrifice that is made on their behalf.
Though I do not relish the defeat, I am rejuvenated by the lessons I have learned and can not wait to try another endeavor where I can put this learning to use. So, it’s time to say adieu and it’s time for me to now figure out (Hello, Sandy!) what I am going to do with the rest of my life. Any ideas?
Tomorrow I will name and thank the wonderful people who played such a great part in this adventure as each need to be recognized. But forgive me please if I put this off until tomorrow. Right now this weary candidate needs to rest.
“What’s that you just said? You say I’m a winner?” Oh yes, my friends--I know!
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
-- Thomas Jefferson