Friday, July 18, 2008

Reflections From Ray McKinney

The following are post-campaign reflections from Ray McKinney.  I have no regrets endorsing this politician.  He stands for the right things.  He fought hard against a tide of money and support from the establishment.  There is a long, uphill battle occuring to take back to Republican Party for the people.  His defeat the other day was a testament to this fact and that we will soon win.  It is very difficult to face big money and the establishment and come out with a third of the vote.  I again thank you Ray.  You fought the good fight and ran for all the right reasons.  You have my respect and my support in whatever your future endeavors are!  

Dear friends,

So the race is over. Sigh. But so many questions remain.

Was it worth it? Would I do it again? How does it feel to lose? Did I learn anything? What am I going to do next?

Well, first things first. Was it worth it?

Yes it was. I got to meet a lot of people I would never have otherwise. Take Dave Cutbirth, my press secretary, a guy living in Reidsville that has served on two congressional staffs. Slightly eccentric, in a cool way, great writer and tons of political wisdom, without this we would have never met. Maybe even my assistant Rick Spurgeon learned a few things about politics and what needs to be changed. Then there are Bob Popowski, Jack Smith, Mike Gibbs and Kevin Parker, Pat Tippet, Gene Smith, Lynn Derriso, Mike Bohannon, Tamra Hadden, Ali, George, Kevin, Frank, and so many others. People I would have never met had I not embarked on this adventure.

Would I do it again?

If I had known how disappointed so many people would be at the end, maybe not. So many people around this district believed that they could finally make a difference. In the end, they did. They just don't realize it.

After all, I wasn't supposed to win anyway because I wasn’t a "serious" candidate (just kidding John, I was serious as a heart attack.)

Those of you on the outside have no idea what went on during this campaign. I mean, what kind of a person leaves his job and put his family through the trials of a campaign with NO support whatsoever from the party establishment?. No candidate in his right mind would spend 6 weeks walking through every county through whatever weather mother-nature had on schedule for that day. Do you have any idea how many pit-bulls are in southeast Georgia? I do.

I think my wife bore the hardest burden of all by supporting our family for the last 8 months while I ran around the district and "played" politician 12-16 hours a day. For any out there who do not think I was taking this seriously, you are sadly mistaken.

This campaign was run on the heart and soul of a handful of people. Talk about seeing grassroots in action, this little team put on a pretty good show.

Just to let ya'll in on a few secrets, the web-work was done by one young man out of Texas, all of the printed materials were designed by another man who handled press and scheduling. Appointments, meetings, and a whole lot of calling was handled by, of all people, my mother. The entire team consisted of one candidate, his mom, a retired man in Reidsville, and 3 volunteers. There were several other people that joined up in the last 2 weeks to help with signs and what not, but this was probably the leanest congressional campaign in modern history.

There were lots of other volunteers like Craig and Tammi, Wayne and Sandra, and many others. All with full time jobs but they took time out of their schedule to call friends and do what they could. These were not politicians, but plain ordinary folk like most of us and they drove a campaign. We had no major financial backers, state or federal endorsements, network of contacts and yet we managed to make a pretty tough showing from scratch.

How does it feel to lose?

I’m disappointed, of course, but when I consider how much we accomplished with little resources, I don’t really feel like a loser. After all, with a low turnout, only the most dedicated Republican voter went to the polls and even with a blast of mailers, robo-calls, and radio over 40% of the voters chose one of the "little guys" and over 1/3 of all of the voters chose our team. Not bad without a single National endorsement, a single legislative endorsement, or a dime of PAC money. Consider that a Georgia State Senator, with years of name recognition, and a pre-existing machine was hammered in their primary.

We too should have been hammered into the ground. John Stone had Max Burns to walk in a parade with him, he had PACs making robo-calls, he got endorsements from the press and almost every state elected official who could fit in the bandwagon. and sent out more mailers than John Barrow. But over 40 percent of the voters chose someone other than John. Without those voters on board in November, no candidate can win the general.

What did I learn?

I have learned that we can make a difference and we can make more of a difference if we keep at it. Rome was not built in a day, Lincoln failed multiple times, and Ford beat out Reagan in '76.

I learned that we have officials that should be replaced. We have some officials that are less than honest. On the other hand we have officials that truly want to do the right thing and our deserving of our support. I have a lot of respect for many of the people I have met in the party and I know others that should be ashamed to call themselves Republicans.

More importantly I have learned that people in this country really do care, but they are looking for leaders they can believe in. There are many of those that do not want to be told who to vote for, they want judge for themselves. They want leaders they can trust, not someone who says one thing and does another. If people do not trust us, they will not vote for us. We have to earn their respect and support. Failing that, they will not vote just to cast a vote.

Right now, the Republican brand is tainted. That happened because our leaders abandoned the conservative principles that gave them control of Congress in the ‘90s. The country as a whole has suffered as a result. We will have to earn the right to lead in the future.

What's next?

As for me and my supporters: we aren’t going to just fade into the sunset. We are watching, we will NOT be taken for granted any longer, and we are NOT going away. You will have to earn our vote. Most importantly, we will continue to work to bring return the Republican Party to its principals of less government, fiscal responsibility, preserving the rights of individuals and families, and upholding the Constitution.

The hurdle for John is to show that he is more than just a candidate with Washington, D.C. connections and big-money support. He has to convince the voters, and I am one of them, that he will listen to them, not just say what he thinks they want to hear. We already have a Congressman who does that—John Barrow. To win the independents that make the difference in elections, John will have to show that he represents real change, not more of the same. I sincerely hope he can do that.

To all of you that have been watching, supporting, silently rooting, and voted for me, you have my most humbled thanks. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of this effort to restore our party. I have so much respect for so many of you, for your hard work, your support and your faith in me as a candidate. I look forward to working with you in the future to make a difference in the Republican Party.

On a closing note, I received a note and a quote from a self described conservative Democrat. I thought I would pass the quote onto my "critics" who feel this was a waste of time.

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
----Theodore Roosevelt


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