In my young life I've only known true political heartbreak once, in the primary election of 2006. However, the general election of 2008 has offered a few final tallies that sting.
My sincerest congratulations to the Obama campaign for a stunning margin of victory and a well-fought battle. My genuine thanks to Senator McCain for his humble speech last night. And what can you say about Walt Minnick? Thank you, Walt! It's about time Bill Sali was sent packing.
But like most politics, it is the races closest to home that are the most personal. Two years ago I spent quite a bit of time door-to-door campaigning for the candidates in District 29 here in Bannock County. I live in District 30, did a radio spot for one candidate in my own district, but the actual work was put into the neighboring district. Why? Because in 2006, Diane Bilyeu, Allen Andersen, and James Ruchti were running for seats that Bannock County desperately needed to hold on to and these three individuals are superb legislators, as I believed they had been or would become back then.
Yesterday was the third match up of Allen Andersen and Ken Andrus. The first matchup ousted Andersen from the Idaho House. The second retained Andrus. And now, the third, has once again seen the people of Bannock County elect a conservative "good ole boy" who offers them very little by means of representation and actual support. Ken Andrus in the Idaho Statehouse is a horrible choice.
Beyond the usual political reasons, it is a personal choice in my mind. There are few people in Bannock County or in this state that I admire as much as Allen. He has been a dear friend while I have been in Pocatello, took me under his wing as a young Democrat in Bannock County, and has opened countless doors to me. Watching a good guy like Allen Andersen lose simply because this opponent had an (R) behind his names is awfully discouraging.
Similarly, LaRocco's loss yesterday for the open seat being "vacated" by Senator Craig is yet again another one of those discouraging realizations that you can work harder than the other guy, offer more than the other guy, and still the other guy wins because of party affiliation.
One race that I am having a hard time explaining, not in the way it went down, but in the way I felt about the candidates, is the North Carolina senate race. You may have noted it on my list of races I was watching closely yesterday. Why? I love Liddy Dole. I know, this is insane. I'm a Democrat. I should have been watching happily as Kay Hagan added another D to the list of U.S. Senators. But I wasn't. I suppose I've always admired and looked up to Elizabeth Dole. This is a woman who has an education built on the prestige of Duke, Oxford, and Harvard. She is accomplished in every sense of the word. I would have liked to have seen her go further in the presidential race of 2000 and often thought if a woman was going to be in the White House it would be Liddy Dole. I even like her husband.
Has Senator Dole been without her faults? Of course not, but then again neither have many Democrats I've admired. There were more Republicans I watched lose yesterday that I was sad about than there were Democrats winning that I truly celebrated. Sununu, Shays, and Dole are on that list. Does this make me any less of a Democrat? No, I hope it just means I'm a sensible person who sees the good of the country in the hearts of members of all parties.
I am sure Kay Hagan will make an excellent United States Senator, just as sure as I am that this is not the end of Elizabeth Dole's political career. Liddy Dole is a public servant above all else. There are times, for me at least, when partisanship means very little. Watching the results come in from North Carolina last night was one of those times for me.
There is a great deal yet to be decided. An entire cabinet to compose, U.S. Senate races to decide, and campaign debts to retire. It is a long road to January 20, 2009, but I sure slept better last night knowing President Bush was getting very little sleep last night with all the celebration taking place out on Pennsylvania Avenue. That alone is enough to mend a little political heartbreak.