Kim McCarthy: Some Post-Election Thoughts

Hello, fellow lovers of humanity in District 73!  The election results are in, and yes, it looks like we’re currently mired in the same political rut as before, and our vision for a more just and compassionate society did not come to fruition. But that’s OK, and I want to share a few of my thoughts about why that is.

Firstly, I want to admit something to you all.  This loss crushed me.  It may be obvious that I am pretty darn passionate about my fights for justice, and have been for many years now.  This passion is what drives me, and it’s what led me to step up and run for a seat that was considered completely unwinnable at a -30 electoral spread deficit for anyone on the Democratic ticket.  If I was going to take this huge step, I *had* to believe I could do it.  How else could I have found the motivation and energy to go out canvassing nearly every day for 5 months straight?  So, yeah, it’s going to hurt when the final results come in.  And it did.  But, I am emerging out the other side from that initial blow, and that’s what brings me here to share my thoughts.

Personally, running for this seat challenged me in ways I have never experienced before. The public speaking, the policy questions, the intense scrutiny, the online harassment, the candidate forums…all of it put me in places that were quite unfamiliar to me at times. The nerves and constant schedule, plus the daily canvassing, plus my job, plus raising my kids, plus the needs of my home…let’s just say, it maxed me out. 🙂 So right now, I am grateful to be in the process of unwinding, taking a breath, and remembering what I used to do with my time. 

Could I have really won this seat?  Perhaps not.  But I tell you, I *know* what people want, and it certainly felt like I could win based on the feedback I was receiving at the doors of swing voters.  Obviously, we were coming from a deep, deep hole, and while we clawed it back over 10 points, it was not enough.

But, what DID we win?  We received the highest percentage of votes for a Democrat in this seat in recent memory – 40.2% (and the highest percentage for candidates on the Democratic ticket in the district).  Nearly 20,000 votes, out of almost 50K.  We kept Perales from hitting even 60% (a low bar for Republicans in this district), his worst performance ever!

We got to talk to literally thousands of people throughout the campaign and share our vision of a community that invests in its people, not in its CEO’s.  We got to imagine what a district looks like that values education and how we can and should invest in it.  We shared our stories about our broken health care system, and discussed what a more inclusive one could look like.  We talked about how our student debt is preventing our young kids from starting their lives off in a position to actually succeed and thrive with that education.  We stood beside striking professors at Wright State University in solidarity with their mission. We sat with military spouses and together with them, devised how to bring a fairer system for them to be able to both personally benefit and serve their fellow citizens in Ohio. We did such a good job identifying the problem and devising the solution, that Mr.’s Perales, Butler, Turner and Hackett all stood together to much fanfare to take credit for it (That bill is gathering dust right now, FYI.)  I sat with school superintendents and learned of the dysfunction that exists in Columbus, and how that is having such a negative impact on their ability to effectively teach our young ones.

In other words, we got to talk about the REAL issues we face on a daily basis.  The incumbent, however, does no such thing.  Visit his social media and you’ll be subjected to a host of pictures from events, but there is ZERO talk on policy or on any of the issues the people of our working and middle class face each day.  He actually grew indignant with me more than once during our candidate forums, and challenged my statement that many of the people of our district are actually struggling to stay afloat.  Out. Of. Touch.  So yes, what a disappointment to those of us who wanted to be represented over the next two years.

Our campaign also managed to shatter all previous fundraising records by orders of magnitude, raising just over $60,000 from hundreds of invested individuals.  Our pledge to not accept any corporate PAC money seemed to inspire regular folks to give what they could, and it worked, as we raised enough money to do what we needed to do.  For that, I am proud and grateful, and encouraged that a progressive Democrat can generate that kind of support in Greene County.

We knocked on more than 17,000 doors, with me personally doing about half of that number.  It was brutal work, but oh so rewarding.  Thank you to those who welcomed me at their door.  I heard you.

I know I am probably supposed to congratulate him, but it’s hard to go there when I found each interaction with him becoming more aggressive and disrespectful as we went along.  He was obviously not used to having a challenger, and his resentment at actually having to step up and answer to my campaign was palpable.  At our first forum, he actually thanked me for stepping up, acknowledged what a difficult job it was, and tried to be respectful.  Two forums later, he was using his three minutes intro time to slam me, misrepresent my platform and speak untruths about me.  Telling the students at Wright State and other voters that his opponent was a “foreigner,” or that I was “not an American” was another strategy he employed that I heard about regularly from people.

Then of course, there was the spitefully xenophobic mailer that he sent out at the last minute.  It’s nice to know we actually challenged a scandal-plagued Republican incumbent to the point that he spent thousands of dollars on trying to counteract my message.  It was a lame attempt to discredit me based on my heritage, and I obviously laughed at it, but it’s hard to say what impact it had on voters.  I like to think that the two mailers I sent out at the same time were able to counteract some of his ludicrously gross rhetoric.

Stopping to note: I would really like to see better opportunities for opponents to actually debate.  To talk real issues and offer real solutions.  The forums are great and all, but their ability to show the clear differences between the candidates is limited.  Or they at least become at times relatively superficial. It was frustrating to hear the incumbent declare certain untruths with conviction, and then have little ability to respond  It would be great if candidates could converse, argue and debate points directly with each, to bring out much more context to our understandings and approaches to the issues for the voters to see.

So,  I offer Mr. Perales a challenge – learn about the large majority of your district that is outside the world of the military.  There are more than 12,000 people in your district who live in poverty (many of them veterans).  Your schools are in serious trouble.  Beavercreek’s levy failed, and you are responsible for school funding. You need to solve this serious issue.  And then, of course, there is Wright State.  Stand up for your faculty and your students, and help bring about a solution.  Oh, and ask the Governor to fire the trustees responsible for losing $100 million of our tax dollars.

That is why we need you.  We need you fighting for us and our education, our health care, our jobs.  We don’t need a representative who leads with easy platitudes and the low-hanging political fruit of “I’m a patriot.” As if anyone who challenges your political policies and positions (the few that you seem to actually publicly have) isn’t?  We want a representative who doesn’t resort to identity politics for cheap votes, but instead takes the time to understand what his constituents want and need.  And that is help with REAL life matters that are stopping people from reaching their full potential.  And frankly, after *yet another* mass shooting last night, I find your blanket support of more guns in more places abhorrent.  Another example, yet again, of you being out of touch with what people want.

Our country is in crisis.  Politically, socially, civically, economically.  Having a representative who leads with fear and identity politics is really dangerous right now. We don’t need leaders like Mr. Perales when he calls people who have a differing perspective on issues as being “suspect.” We need leaders to step up and have the courage to embrace love, not hate, and implement serious and proven economic policies that will lessen the burden that such a large section of our population is carrying right now.  But, it is what it is.  He has two more years (unless he moves on to his next political job so his party can appoint someone else to finish his term, giving that new person the advantage of the incumbency.  It’s what they do.) and we are watching.   What we *can* do is hold him responsible for his actions, or lack of them, when it comes to his constituents and their needs.

To that end, I will continue on with our community-based efforts,  particularly though our grassroots group, Greene County Progressives.  We are a passionate group of regular people who have been working for the past two years to advance more progressive ideals in Greene County.  We have been building infrastructure, developing networks, and connecting with like-minded voters in a way to get them more involved.  We follow issues that affect us here, and we act on them when appropriate.  We smile and laugh together, and we do the grunt work of building a society that works for more than just the wealthy elite.  And we welcome YOU to join us.  We always need more voices and input.   We will formulate our strategy going forward at these monthly meetings (1st Sunday of each month, 4pm in Xenia).  Please like our page and join us!

This fight is far from over.  If you liked what you heard from our campaign, I encourage you to stay connected, and in fact, I would go further and say come out from behind the computer screen, and join us December 2nd.  We can’t make change so many of you have told me you want without enough people involved.  We need you.  Please consider becoming part of our team!

I will continue to post on this site, on our Facebook page and Twitter, sharing updates on issues that directly affect the business and concerns of our District 73, and the actions of our political representatives in general.  I will realign more of my focus again on the Greene County Commission meetings, because these give great insights into where Columbus is letting our communities down.  Those weekly meetings are Thursdays 1pm in Xenia, so I welcome you to attend these, as well.

I want to thank every last person who I encountered on this incredible journey.  Your support and kind words of encouragement really did give me the energy needed to keep up the brutal pace for so many months.  Even the haters – you gave me something to laugh about as I fell asleep each night… may you find peace!  😉

To my fellow women candidates – Theresa, Susan, Cyndi, Anne… being on this crazy trip with all of you made it SO much more enjoyable, and I thank you for your support and friendship. Your strength and courage was inspiring to me!  I refuse to let any of you disappear from my life!

To the 40.2% of voters who put their faith in me – thank you.  I promise you your support was not in vain, and that I will carry that encouragement with me, and forward with you, in the coming days ahead.

To my amazing and incredible inner team – I salute each of you.  Dorothee, Kevin, Andy, Larry, Tana, Jordan, Dave, Ryan, Marylin, Susan, Ed, Jim, Gary, Jim, Mark, Terry, Mike, Brian, Shawn.  You survived Kim under pressure, some of you more so than others, and for that, you have my eternal devotion.  We did amazing things, and I look forward to doing more of that in the future with you.

To my family – my three beautiful children – Arden, Simon and Julian.  Thank you for the sacrifices you made, and for all of your love and support of what I have been trying to do here.  May my service inspire you to make your own path of goodness in the world as you grow!

We fell short this time, but our campaign, with your help and support, opened up important conversations about many serious issues that our great state of Ohio is facing.  I will forever be grateful that I was able to step up and offer people a vision of what we could be – a more cooperative and just society that focuses on putting people first.  Our first seeds have been planted.  Thank you.