June 5, 2012, has come and gone. Here in New Jersey, we have weathered another primary race. And beginning on the Wednesday morning of June 6th, many Monday Morning Quarterbacks (Wednesday Morning Quarterbacks?) are licking their wounds statewide. I’m no exception. While I wasn’t a candidate, I did campaign vigorously for one. I thought him worthy of my time and effort – not something to take lightly at this stage of life.
Mission from God
As far as I was concerned, I had nothing less than a mission from God. I prayed that He would have mercy on this State and this nation and restore our godly heritage. I prayed He would do this by allowing us, by His grace, to choose representatives that had committed themselves to Him and our constitutional principles. In the campaign I worked for, that simply didn’t happen. I can accept that. Although I am sure that I did what God wanted me to do, I also know that doing His will doesn’t necessarily mean things turn out as we expect. I learned that lesson when I studied the life of Elijah. God told him to go to the Brook Kidron during a drought. He did. Then the brook dried up. Elijah did what God told him to do but didn’t get the results one would expect. Last night, neither did I.
But I am prone to analyze. Some may call it Monday Morning Quarterbacking. I call it learning life’s lessons.
The Monday Morning Quarterback speaks
Here’s the low-down. I clearly had the better candidate. He is smart, articulate and well-versed on the issues. He also has a great deal of the not-so-common common sense. In addition to this, he thought things through and could propose solutions to many of the problems this country faces. In addition to all of that, the Tea Parties up and down the State were gracious enough to have him speak before their groups. Whenever he spoke, they understood what I understood: this was by far the better candidate. He received support from almost every group he spoke to, with perhaps a few exceptions here and there.
Our major opponent had a solid win and left us in the dust. He is also a 24-year veteran politician with no discernible history of getting anything done – except for one thing. His wife and our very popular Governor, Chris Christie, are good friends. To be fair, he is also a good campaigner; he managed the campaigns for Governor Christie and for Mitt Romney in 2008. Other than that, mediocre best describes this “moderate” Republican. If he were a color, he would be beige.
Of money and machines
So how did Mr. Beige manage to bury the better candidate? I’ve been asking myself that question all morning. I cannot name one single reason; I see several. First and foremost, he is part of the well-oiled Republican machine that our rock star Governor leads. Not only does the machine know how to campaign, have the organization and know-how to campaign properly; they also have the money. To date, some report that our opponent could raise close to $4,000,000, compared to our $30,000.
But other factors weren’t as obvious or as understandable. Our Governor also knows how to throw his weight around. The Governor gives orders and the rest of the Party bows down. Of the Republican operatives that marched lockstep to their orders, only one county even bothered to vet my candidate. Of course they did not endorse him, but they led us to understand that they simply didn’t think we had a viable candidacy, mostly because he had so little money. Fair enough. But we always thought that finding the best candidate was the purpose of a primary. We came to realize that promoting the establishment’s next in line – regardless of their personal attributes or shortcomings – is the real goal. Simply put, if you’re not next in line, you’re not electable. Like it or not, there may be some truth to that.
The art of smearing
The next problem we faced was that the Party operatives made a concerted effort to smear my candidate unjustifiably in our own district, as well as the rest of the State. And not only us, but anyone they found out were supporting us – right down to a friend who held a meet and greet for us. Believe it or not, they had him and his ministry investigated. Although they could not find any real problems with him, they were not averse to creating a few. These assaults were morally mind-boggling, as they took a bit of truth and twisted it to unimaginable dimension. I’ll spare you all the details, save one example. My candidate, a business owner and one time deli store operator, discovered a few years ago that he had bought counterfeit cigarettes. He immediately reported that fact. Authorities took him to court, and the judge threw the case out, absolving my candidate from all costs. The story told to our constituents was that my candidate sold counterfeit cigarettes. Period. True, but a lie by omission. The machine met almost every contact we had and every endorsement we received with the same contemptible conduct. They even wrote personal letters to anyone who they suspected might support us, right down to a friend who was running for Freeholder. They left no stone unturned. The interesting point here is that my candidate was the only candidate to suffer such assaults. The other two candidates in the race went Scot-free. I firmly believe this was due to my candidate’s TEA Party connection. The last thing the establishment wants is to see a TEA Party candidate to succeed. We seem to threaten them – more than does the other major political party. So they came after us with all guns loaded and made sure they took aim and fired repeatedly.
Although I could write a book, I won’t. However, I do have three other points to make:
The First Amendment of our Constitution protects their freedom. The thought being that a free press is the best watchdog the people can have to protect them against unscrupulous politicians and tyrannical practices. In our case the worthiness of the Press’ protection is somewhat questionable. Fact – we sent a myriad of Press Releases out that never bore an iota of mention. After realizing that the press were ignoring us, we sent the releases out through a press release company. Perhaps my regular contacts might be filtering out our releases. The company we used had tools to tell us how many people were opening our releases. On average, 600 people opened each release. Yet – no one published a single one. Now before you think that perhaps I don’t know how to write an effective press release that is worthy of publication, let me remind you that I ran my own campaign back in the fall, and I also ran a recall movement against our sitting senator. In both instances, I received much press. Not this time – not even by the entities I had cultivated relationships with in my earlier endeavors.
In the interest of total disclosure, we did receive press in Israel (yes, you read that correctly). And the weekend before the election, most papers carried a few sentences that read something like this:
On Tuesday, June 5th, a New Jersey primary will be held for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. The candidates are State Senator Joe Kyrillos, a 24-year legislative veteran and favored candidate; Bader Qarmout, a business owner and adjunct professor; Joe “Rudy” Rullo, a solar company owner; and David Brown, an inventor and businessman.
Give or take a description or two that just about covers the press the candidates – other than Joe Kyrillos – received. Senator Kyrillos, however, had no problem in getting media coverage. Is this what our founders had in mind when they protected the freedom of the press? I think not.
First, we lacked fundraising talent. However, on the budget we had to run a statewide campaign, we did rather well. However, inexperience in such matters should not be taken lightly – especially when running against an experienced and well-oiled establishment machine. But our greatest mistake was not developing a strong ground game. We made the rounds, garnered support, bought signs, had a great website, sent out press release, yadda yadda yadda. But we didn’t put together an army of door-knockers or get-out-the-vote telephone callers. In our semi-rural community, such endeavors are not feasible. In other parts of the state, they are. It was our mis-strategy to rely on robo-calls to accomplish this goal. They proved to be woefully inadequate and the support we were promised/anticipating just didn’t materialize – which brings me to my last point.
As stated above, we had very low voter turnout. No doubt partly due to our reliance on robo-calls to get out the vote, but also most likely due in part to voter apathy. In one county alone we were led to believe that the combination of votes from our supporters would be upwards of 60,000. We received under 2,000 – significantly under. What happened? My guess is that it was a combination of hearing often that the Governor’s anointed was a shoe-in, so no sense in going out to vote, and again, our fault for having no ground game. Now, before the campaign takes all the blame for not organizing our ground game properly, the largest community in question told us that they were going door-to-door to get out the vote on our behalf.
You decide whether it was apathy or inexperience on our part. I would prefer the blame to be on us since I would hate to think that we, as a people, lack the commitment to find a good candidate and then do the very least we can do– go out and vote. But I fear that apathy was a major contributor to our lack of results. Let me be clear, I am not saying that if everyone voted that should have voted, we would have own – although that is possible. I am saying that it is a sad indictment on our republican form of government that those who understand the perils we are facing can’t manage to get to the polls. I hear many complaints about our government, but when faced with a choice to change it, the complainers seem content to do nothing more than complain.
Why am I detailing all of this? Partly because it is admittedly somewhat therapeutic and partly because I try to learn from my mistakes. But there is another reason. Hopefully, you will be able to learn from my mistakes should you find yourself in a remotely similar situation.
Our country is in dire straits. The liberty we love is on the verge of extinction. Many of us are newcomers to the political arena. Sadly, we don’t have the luxury of a learning curve. If this article can lessen the angle of the learning curve and some patriot somewhere in this great nation can learn from our mistakes, then the journey was well worth it. If not, then I fear for my country more than I had two days ago.
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