“I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”
— Muhammad Ali
In case you haven’t seen the news, we came up short on election night. More to the point, Rep. Frye-Mueller came up extremely long. Our district usually has about 12,000 votes cast. This year, more than 14,000 voters made their voices heard. Record turnout by all counts, at least in recent history.
When the dust settled, more than 4,000 people marked the box for us, and that’s the main number I’m choosing to honor and celebrate today. But it’s not the only one:
• We did well on fundraising, despite massive economic uncertainty throughout the entire course of our campaign. We ultimately outraised our opponent by a few thousand dollars. I’m most proud that we raised money from more than 50 individual donors, whereas more than 93% of my opponent’s funding came from just eight PACs and party committees.
• While we didn’t quite hit the 3,500 mark that we did in 2018, we knocked our 3,000th door on Halloween. This wasn’t simply a literature drop, it was real, live conversations and connections. I’ve said it before, but postcards and billboards are about “me”, while conversations at the doorstep are about “us”. It’s the latter that counts.
• We brought a lot of publicity to food freedom, and to the crisis that is facing our beef producers. I’m optimistic that the legislature will spend some time focusing on these issues next year, at least in some small part thanks to the noise we made about it.
• We again placed dozens of high-contrast yellow highway signs all over the district. I was again known as the “yellow sign guy”, and despite my opponent’s massive effort in getting her signs up, the most common thing I heard in the last couple months was, “Man, your signs are EVERYWHERE!” After spending 12 hours tearing them down yesterday, it’s almost hard to type because my arms are so sore.
• We attended almost every parade, fair and big public event from April until now. I’m still feeling sad that we missed out on the annual Oral Pig Roast, but my wife and I were both suffering from sore throats and lethargy, so we made the decision to skip. We didn’t want to potentially bring COVID to the good people of Oral, Buffalo Gap and Fairburn. It ended up just being allergies, but I think we made the right call.
And so, as the sun sets on a campaign three years in the making, I am of course disappointed by the outcome, but I am very proud of the race we ran, and grateful to each and every one of you for the support you gave. Whether you knocked on doors, donated money, shared our social media posts, talked to your neighbors about our campaign, or even just visited with me at the fair… This was a team effort through and through.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank my opponent. Julie ran a very good, very positive race and she should absolutely be proud of her amazing turnout. If I’m not mistaken, 10,000 votes is more than anyone has ever gotten in our district in a contested legislative race, at least in recent history. And she did it in a race against an active opponent, not just a “paper candidate”.
I have thanked Julie for keeping it clean. Many races in D30 over the years have turned extremely dirty and negative. I just hope future races can stay as clean as ours did. Julie and I spoke early on and agreed that we were opponents, not enemies. And that’s how we kept it. Congratulations once again, Senator-Elect Frye-Mueller!
So what does the future hold for Gideon Oakes? Well, the beautiful thing is that I don’t know for sure. Will there be other races? Knowing me, I would not be surprised. Will there be a race in two years? Well, knowing how I feel right now, I WOULD be kind of surprised, but I have learned to never rule anything out.
The one thing I know for sure is that I’m going to enjoy getting back to some semblance of routine in my day-to-day life. I heard a rumor that if you’re not spending all your time running for office, you can actually spend time working and earning a living. I’m going to have to look into that!
Above all, I’m ready to spend more time with my family. Of everyone I have to thank, they deserve higher praise than anyone. They’ve been so patient and forgiving as I’ve spent the last seven months (well, if we’re being honest, it’s more like the last three years) obsessing over this race. In spite of my distant gaze while I was poring over strategy in my mind… In spite of every time I had to miss supper to be at an event… In spite of every time I yelled at the kids to pipe down while I was on the phone… they never stopped loving me or being my biggest supporters.
When Lily came and climbed up into our bed on Wednesday morning, I had to give her the news that I’d lost my race. She hugged me and, like something out of a Hallmark movie, she told me, “That’s OK, Papa. You’ll always win our race.”
You know, maybe it won’t be so bad to not spend 10 weeks in Pierre each winter after all. I may have lost an election, but in the game of life, I can’t help but think that I’m winning big time.
Again, thank you all for your constant support and sustainment. May God bless you and your families, and may He bless our country and our world right now with peace, understanding and humility.