Three hundred and sixty-four days ago, I was sitting in my wife's OB's office when the doctor said "Did I see you on a street corner the other day?"
"Yes. Yes you did. I was running for state delegate."
"Oh wow. That's so cool."
"If you saw me, you're probably in the district. Did you vote?"
"I did vote."
"I don't think I voted for you. Sorry."
"That's ok. Most people didn't."
Two hours later, I'm standing in the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Room checking my wife in for the birth of our first child. My mind is racing. I feel equal parts joy and fear. I'm running through all of the obstetrical information gained from six years as a medical malpractice attorney while attempting to flush out all of the horrors that may be attached to such information. My phone rings:
"Hi, Tom. It's Dr. *****."
"Is everything ok? We're at the hospital."
"Yes. I just wanted to tell you I did vote for you."
"You and your wife have different last names, right?"
"See - I did vote for you. I just wanted you to know. I felt so bad for saying I didn't vote for you."
"Well..thank you. I appreciate the call."
Approximately seven hours after that, I met my daughter.
This is one of the weird, amazing, and lasting memories I gained from running for office. On the precipice of one of the most important events of my life, someone called me with the (fair) presumption that the election was equally significant. And at that time, prior to my daughter being born, I likely would have agreed with them. The loss felt heavy. Too heavy. As with most other big disappointments, it also felt permanent. Most of you know where this story goes. My daughter lifted me back up.
Even still, in the days, weeks, and months after the election, I felt embarrassed. I think that is a fair emotion to feel, but looking back it was without merit. For all past and future candidates, successful or not, the result of the election is the same. The people that didn't like you still don't like you. The people that liked you still like you. Everyone else who never met you and never knew you still won't care one way or the other. The only exceptions for me personally have been a gentleman who works at the Dorsey's Search Giant who continues to call me "Mr. Politician" (he thinks I won) and an occasional random kind person who says "I voted for you".
The only lasting pain is found in the inability to do the things that need to be done. The e-mails I still get from people who need help, but aren't getting responses from Annapolis. It seems likely that three years from now the same issues I spent 18 months talking about will still be left to address. That may be a politician's dream, but it is a community's tragedy. That part still hurts.
I walk to work, enjoy what I do there, and have lunch with my family almost every day. Life is good and getting better. 365 days ago I lost an election. 364 days ago, my life started over as something brand new.
Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!