Sometimes, there are no losers

Published 8:01 am Friday, February 8, 2013

It was my honor Tuesday night to attend the victory celebration for Dean Burke, who will represent District 11 in the state Senate in Atlanta. That is important because he has been elected to represent you and me in the General Assembly of Georgia.

I was struck by the many friends in attendance that once supported me in my first race for the General Assembly. I was pleased to give a toast to Dean recognizing his victory and challenging him to respond to the call for all that believe in him.

However, I realize that not too many miles away there was a similar gathering with family, friends and supporters of Burke’s opponent, Mike Keown. I suspect their gathering was not quite so festive, but he was surrounded by those that worked hard for him, nevertheless.

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It reminds me of the occasion of my first election to the Seminole County Commission, over 20 years ago. In the midst of all the congratulations and accolades, my grandfather leaned over to me and said, “Boy, you will never be more popular than you are tonight.”

I am not sure if that is true or not, but he made me aware that fame is fleeting, and never more so than during your career in politics.

Twelve years after I declined to run for re-election to the General Assembly, my fondest memories are from those many people who worked hard to elect me. Many were friends and family, but many were not. I still look at pictures of people working on my behalf that I did not even know.

Times have changed since my last election. Races are run by consultants who target people to receive mailings, calls, and emails. I have never received so many calls in any election as I did in this runoff election that just finished.

But I also witnessed people waving placards in the rain, urging people to vote. I watched people spend all their free time calling strangers, urging them to vote. Everything is not automated. In this election there were hundreds of your friends and neighbors working as hard as they could to elect the person they thought was the best qualified to be our state senator.

Dean Burke will go to Atlanta, supported by the knowledge that hundreds of people worked hard and gave their talent, time and dollars to help him get there. I hope to be among the many who will watch with pride as he is sworn into office.

But Mike Keown should take some consolation in the fact that his supporters worked just as hard, gave just as much, and hurt for him and themselves in the outcome of this election.

Occasionally, political races occur where there really isn’t a “bad guy” or “villain.” There are just two citizens who have led worthy lives that want to represent their communities in public service. One gets more votes than the other and the election is over.

However, win or lose, when they put their head down on their pillow the night of the election, I hope they realize they are indeed both winners.

You can live a lifetime without experiencing the dedicated efforts of supporters working on your behalf. In this particular election, both Keown and Burke have experienced the joy have having friends work tirelessly on their behalf. For that, they are both winners.