In 2007, I worked as a consultant for the Get Out The Vote Initiative for the Bruce Lunsford-Greg Stumbo campaign to be the Democratic nominee for governor. On election night in May, they lost that campaign to the now Governor Steve Beshear and his running mate. Several other staff members and I were gathered at a nice hotel in Louisville when we heard the news that our candidate had lost the race. A little heartbroken, we listened to Stumbo and then Lunsford give brief speeches. They then greeted campaign workers and other people who had attended the party. After getting a brush off from Lunsford, I was able to speak to Stumbo. I told him that I had been forward to him being Lieutenant Governor and that I was sorry it didn’t work out. This is what he told me:
“There are no losers in politics, son. You may not always win, but you never lose.”
This is one quote that I have never forgotten. Shortly after this loss, a story broke in the news about the representative from Stumbo’s home district not seeking re-election. A few days later, Stumbo announced that he would be running for that seat. He was elected in 2008 and when he assumed office he was also elected as Kentucky Speaker of the House of Representatives. It must be noted that Stumbo had served in that in the House from 1980-2003 and was the Majority Leader from 1985-2003 before becoming Attorney General.
You may be thinking that this is a neat story, but what’s the point. The point is that there is a lot of good-old-boy networking in play in politics, especially on the state level. Stumbo had a lot of caché that he could bank on, assuming his bid for lieutenant governor fell through. In his case, he knew a lot of people and it helped him out. Stumbo has in turn helped out Kentuckians and people of his home district as much as possible. Stumbo knows how to play the political game, but he also knows how to bring home the bacon (so to speak) to keep his constituents happy. Unfortunately, there are too many politicians in our country that use this good-old-boy network as an act of despotism. In the end, it’s the politician and their friends that seem to reap all the rewards while the average person gets screwed over. As long as there are people, like Stumbo, who use their network to do good things for their constituents, I’m usually okay with that. But when people use it to do bad things, I don’t like it too much. What voters need to do is evaluate their elected officials. Are they doing well by the voters? If so, then they are probably alright and doing the best they can. If that isn’t the case, then it may be time to look elsewhere for your elected officials.