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November 14, 2017

Working Together Promises Great Results

Hayden Duke

Going to a “victory party” after you and your team loses an election is the closest thing in life to going to your own wake. The air feels heavy. You are greeted with somber faces and given condolences by family, good friends and acquaintances.


It is certainly not the best feeling in the world, but when you give a race your everything and leave it all on the campaign trail, there are no regrets.


Everyone should run for elective office at least once because it gives you an amazing perspective on your community, local figures, and, most importantly, local politics.


After a loss, any loss, there has to be some introspection to see if anything was learned in defeat. I will give my perspective on the Democrats, the Republicans, my personal views as a candidate, as well as some ideas for a path forward.


I would like to make this disclaimer. I will not seek a seat on the Board of Aldermen again. To run a third time would stand for everything I am against – the serial politician, who will run every four years. Besides, that role in Frederick City has already been taken.


Before I discuss what the Democrats did right, I have to say that I think that there was one potential factor out of everyone’s control here in Frederick – the national political scene. It was a good night to be a Democrat, as evidenced by their victories around the country; and it was a bad night to be a Republican. That is not to deny credit to the Frederick Democrats for a well-run campaign, or to absolve myself, or the Republicans of any and all responsibility.


To run in Frederick City as a Democrat is to begin with an advantage in voter registration and history. Most of our recent administrations have been majority Democrat. If the Republicans had captured two seats, it would have been a good night. Had the Republicans secured a majority of the board, it would have been incredible. I had a conversation with a fellow Republican several months ago and was assured that the GOP would take five seats. I said that given last year’s election results we could arguably secure two seats, maybe three if we put the pedal to the metal. I was told this was a defeatist attitude. I prefer to call it reality.



Here is what the Democrat party and candidates got right:


1. They had a primary. This allowed their candidates to hone their message and get that message out over a period of months beginning in late winter/early spring. They worked hard and didn’t stop working until Election Day.


2. They were unified. After the Primary, Jennifer Dougherty endorsed Michael O’Connor for mayor; and the aldermanic candidates, who came up short, lent their support to the cause. At events as recent as a month ago, I saw the defeated Democrat candidates show up to support their nominees.


3. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. They worked. At many houses where I knocked on doors, I would find a “Donna K” or “Roger Wilson” campaign palm card among others. And, they had all hands on deck. Democratic Central Committee members, elected officials, ancillary organizations, etc. all came out to help. Most importantly, all of their candidates worked.


4. They had a precision phone banking and GOTV effort.


5. Most importantly, they got their voters to the polls. That’s what it takes to win. Everything else is just noise. And, it wasn’t just that they got their voters to the polls, many of these voters voted the straight party ticket.


These are just the observations of a candidate and a student of politics. I also believe that Frederick’s civil campaign tradition also papered over some relatively big issues and disagreements.


While I was hoping for a different result, I have to give credit where it is due. If the Republican Party wants to reverse the election results four years from now, it needs to learn from its mistakes and chart a path forward.


In my next column I will share my opinion of how the Republicans ran the race for Frederick City’s political offices.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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