I deeply admire people who have the chutzpa to hang themselves out there as candidates and expose themselves to the judgment of total strangers. It takes courage to run for a race on any level (okay, either courage or a few loose screws, in some cases) and I always want to call up the candidates who did not make it on post-election day to say "at least you had the stones to run."
But beyond that, I have noticed more and more what a valuable role losing candidates can play in an election. I'm talking specifically about the candidate who files against a well-entrenched incumbent, knowing they have no chance, but wanting to hold the incumbent accountable and force them to go on record about the issues. Or a candidate who feels so passionately about the issues that they run when reality and low name recognition would indicate their chances are low. Bless these people -- they are the only ones with so little to lose that they will actually talk about the issues and force their opponents to talk about them, too. They often elevate the level for us all.
This morning, I woke thinking about Ken Lewis. He's a good man with a fine mind and some great ideas. He chose to throw his hat into the ring for U.S. Senate knowing it would be a brutal fight. In the end, he wasn't known in all parts of the state and that hurt him. But he ended up pulling in what I consider to be an astonishing number of votes given the money and time he had to campaign and his independence within his own party. But more than that, I didn't notice anyone talking meaningfully about the issues until he came out of the box in January and forced everyone in the field to get more specific about what they stood for. Maybe he didn't win -- but he did do all of us a service. And I hope he realizes what he accomplished.
If you have other people who lost their races but fought the good fight and brought the issues to the forefront, I hope you'll post their names here. We need MORE people running, not less -- far too many incumbents still run unchallenged these days -- and getting new people to run may take everyone realizing it's not all about who wins and loses over the long-term.