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When Succeeding isn’t Winning

Today is August 1st, 2012, and yesterday I lost my first bid for public office.  I congratulate Representative Jerguson on his victory.  I also pass along my warmest wishes to his team as I am sure they worked hard on his behalf.

While I will not have the title House Representative, I retain the title and role of Citizen Activist.  In that role, my campaign was a huge success and that success was due entirely to the people that decided to get involved and work on my behalf.  In short, I didn’t do any of this alone and I cannot articulate how grateful I am to those who so generously gave their time and money.

Here is a brief recap of some of the important issues that I believe saw a major improvement for our state just by having opposition in this primary:

TRANSPORTATION: We were the first to speak out against TSPLOST and the TIA including the regionalism aspect of the bill.  This opened the gates for many more to come forward and speak out against the tax, including Representative Jerguson, who had previously supported the plan. 

LOBBYIST GIFT and ETHICS REFORM: Representative Jerguson has stated that he will introduce a bill that would eliminate the ability for a legislator to accept tax payer funded gifts from lobbyists.  This means no more hunting trips paid for by the Georgia Board of Regents.  Before my candidacy, there was no such effort being made.

EDUCATION:  This is one where I believe there will be much work to do.  I continue to worry that our community remains polarized over the school choice issue, and I renew my call for all parties to raise the level of their political discourse.  Time will tell if my candidacy had any real impact here.  While I will always advocate on behalf of parents to choose what is best for their child, our current legislators do no favors for the concept of school choice by denigrating the efforts of traditional public school teachers.

Based on these results, I now believe that every race for every office should have primary opposition.  I coined this term a couple years ago; “The Caldwell Effect.”  It is named after Michael Caldwell, whose presence on the ballot made his opponent a better legislator even though he lost his first run for office.  While Michael may have lost, his community was better for having him participate in the political process.  Competition gives you better choices.

And so that is what I am hanging my hat on today. We earned 42% of the vote and were outspent at one point 10-1 against a six year incumbent.  And I have to tell you, because of the impact to our community, it was worth it.

So thank you to the 42% that voted for me.  Thank you to my wife and family that have stood by me throughout this process.  Thank you to my intrepid and numerous volunteers who endured at various times high heat, rain, rolling hills, barking dogs, late nights, early mornings, long days, longer driveways, short tempers, and my corny humor; you made a difference.  And lastly, but certainly not least, thank you to my Heavenly Father, whose hand of guidance I have felt every step of the way.

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