I've been blogging on Daily Kos and a number of other progressive national blogs (HuffPo, FireDog Lake, CO Pols, etc.) for about ten years. Hundreds of thousands of words later, I thought I pretty much knew my positions about everything under the son, what makes legislators tick, and how things work on campaigns. After all, not only did I exchange opinions with others like preschoolers share germs, but I testified at the State Capitol a number of times, volunteered on countless campaigns, and hung out at more kickoff parties than I could count.
And then I was drafted to run for office by the Dems to fill a vacancy 3/4 of the way through an election cycle. "Heck" I figured, "I've seen 100 other people run for office. I can do that."(Imagine loud record screeching sound here.) Just add water, right?
"Hold onto your hat" is what they should have told me. Here's what else they didn't tell me:
You will have a much greater ability to raise money than you ever thought imaginable. ($20K in a couple of months -- feelin' pretty good about that!)
You will get less sleep than when you had a new baby in the house.
However difficult you thought it was to run for office, it's more so.
You'll start to be honest with yourself about things you did when you were young, and fights you had in the third grade, because you know if you don't, someone else will.
However many hours you thought people spent campaigning, multiply it by 10.
You'll learn plants die without water.
Your family will learn what they can do for themselves that you used to do for them. ...And you'll let them.
You will give your personal cell phone out to hundreds of total strangers without batting an eye.
You will actually enjoy knocking on doors and getting to know people every day.
You'll start listening to people you never listened to before... and realize they are not as crazy as they sound on facebook memes.
You'll hear some really, really, really sad stories, and it will make you mad as Hell.
You'll become very intimate with the ActBlue website and check it before you go to the bathroom each morning.
Those cute little expressions your Grandpa told you when you were a kid will start falling out of your mouth like teeth after a prize fight.
You'll start to understand political horse trading, but you still won't like it.
Suddenly, every crack in the sidewalk, every traffic jam, every news story will make you think, "Who can I call?"
You will have many meetings at Starbucks, even though you prefer small local Mom-n-Pop shops. There's a reason there is one at every corner.
You will learn to love google docs.
You'll learn a ton about yourself... every day.
You'll suddenly be aware of every word, every sentence, every joke, and every expression, and wonder if it will be used against your family someday.
You'll suddenly realize your mom was right -- you don't know everything.
You'll know where every union printer is in town.
You will find your ability to be yelled at by another voter is much stronger than you think.
At the same time, the thank yous and kind words will continue to melt your heart, and you will feel like you make a difference.
You will fall in love with your constituents -- all of them, even the grouchy ones who won't vote for you -- because they are your constituents, even though you haven't won yet.
You'll be shocked at what plastic political signs cost. And mailers. And door hangers. And palm cards. And stamps...
You'll think you discovered robocalls.
You'll learn to speak really, really fast before the "beep".
You'll learn who your friends are.
You'll learn who your friends really are, and their generosity, their support, their commitment to you, and their belief in you will blow you away like nothing ever has before.
You won't be above asking your progressive blogger friends for money to help you win!
You'll know you'll have their back when they do the same!
You'll have deep respect for anyone else who ever ran for public office... regardless of political affiliation!