Have you ever heard someone slam a politician by saying, “He’s so unpopular he couldn’t even get elected Dogcatcher”? According to Wiktionary (not a source I’d trust for something more important), the usage of this phrase is summed up as follows:
“Dogcatcher is virtually never an elected office (only one elected dogcatcher office exists, in Duxbury, Vermont); the phrase is hyperbole, using dogcatcher to indicate ‘the most lowly conceivable office’.”
TODAY’S LOWLY OFFICE
After considering that Wiktionary says Dogcatcher is virtually never an elected office, I’ve decided that the elective position I now hold has become the most lowly conceivable office – i.e. Precinct Committee Officer (PCO). If you don’t know, a voting precinct is a subdivision of either a city or county where each address in the area is assigned to a precinct and each precinct is then given a specific location for its residents to vote. Precinct sizes vary but the U. S. has an average of 1,100 voters per precinct, with each one having both a Democrat and a Republican PCO. These are unpaid elected positions meant to help the parties stay in touch with the thoughts and feelings of neighborhood residents. If a person files to run for PCO and they’re unopposed, their name doesn’t even appear on any ballot. Typically, if a person who files to run for PCO is unopposed, they are appointed to that position by their respective party. However, if more than one person files, each of their names appear on the ballots of voters living in the respective precinct.
THE LOWLY INCUMBENT
Two years ago, the Chairman of the Clark County Washington Republican Party (CCRP) asked me to run for PCO in Precinct 690. I agreed to do so, with the understanding that I’d have limited time and energy to do the job. This year, due to my dismay over what has happened at the top of both party’s tickets, I came close to not filing for reelection. After further prayerful consideration, though, I decided that if I’m going to make any difference in getting my party and our country back on course, I needed to be willing to do my part. Interestingly, shortly after I did file, I learned that another person had also filed. That meant that, in my aim to make a difference, I’d have to start by campaigning. Although I won’t bore you with all the details of my campaign, I want to tell you about some of its key aspects and the ways in which I was blessed along the way.
THE INCUMBENT CAMPAIGNING
Presently, there are 1,410 registered voters in Precinct 690, well above the average precinct size. The CCRP produced a targeted list for me of 380 homes within the precinct (many with two or more voters per home) that tend to vote in primaries, that tend to vote Republican. Except for the homes that are in a couple of gated neighborhoods, I personally rang each of those doorbells. In some cases, I got to have discussions and left my postcard with them. For the most part, the people I talked with seemed to appreciate my effort and they were eager to engage. And, they consistently seemed to be positively amused when I told them they’d have to make a similar effort to find me on the ballot, since PCO is the last elective office listed and that I’d, literally, be the last listing because my last name begins with W. Of course, it was gratifying when I heard them assure me that I had their vote.
With homes where there was no answer, I left my postcard on the front door. And, with the gated communities, I phoned each one that had a good phone number. With the others, I mailed them a postcard. Surprisingly, only one of those came back from the USPS. Additionally, thanks to a very hardworking fellow-member of the CCRP, I was able to secure professional looking yard signs at a reasonable price. These were placed strategically all around Precinct 690. Also, since I’m pretty active on social media, I made good use of Facebook. I have to say that, in addition to the many discussions I got to share while out door-belling, my campaign related posts on Facebook resulted in some of my sweetest blessings. Of course, I was mostly hoping to connect with voters in Precinct 690 but it was very rewarding to hear from many from all across the country who had kind things to say about me, as a candidate and that I would certainly have their vote, if they lived in my precinct. My favorite was from one of my favorite people in the whole world, a local Elementary School Teacher who said, if she lived in my neighborhood, she would vote for me, voting Republican for the first time in her life.
MEETING THE “ENEMY”
One of the most interesting occurrences of my campaign was getting to meet my opponent, Jason Atkins. I meant to avoid door-belling his home but I had been out pounding the pavement for two or three hours and I guess I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. Anyway, when I introduced myself, he said, “Oh, I’m going to be out doing what you’re doing soon.” I said, “Really?! What are you running for?” As I said, I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention. All I had been told about Jason before we met was that he was running because his union wanted him to (that didn’t sound very Republican to me) and that he is the Son of our recently-elected new County Sheriff. Just from that, I knew he would have a name recognition advantage plus the advantage of his last name beginning with an A. He seemed to be a nice man who is forty-something, he is a handsome former Marine and he has flame tattoos that go up to his elbows … something that would make him more appealing to younger voters. Considering all this, I pretty much thought I was sunk. To my surprise, as I continued campaigning, I didn’t see any evidence of Jason’s campaign. After the polls closed on August 2nd and the votes were in, in a Facebook IM, I told Jason that I hadn’t seen any of his “tracks” on the campaign trail and that I was curious about what he had done. He said, “To be honest I was sent out of town for work and didn’t get out of my own neighborhood.”
OFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS
The results of the August 2nd election became official on August 16th and though it’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds, here’s how it turned out. I lost by five (5) votes. The reason I say this isn’t nearly as dramatic as it sounds is this: Out of 1,410 registered voters in Precinct 690, only 268 returned ballots & according to the official count, only 143 voted for PCO with that split, 74 for Atkins and 69 for me. At this point, you might expect me to say something like “The only thing more lowly than running for Dogcatcher is running for Dogcatcher and losing.” But that isn’t my attitude at all. I do have to admit that it disappointed me to see the realities of the electorate reaffirmed. In my eDialog with Jason after the votes were in, he concluded by saying, “I didn’t think I would have a chance since I got stumped on getting out. I have a feeling it was the name, my father just ran for sheriff so I think it was name recognition.” I don’t doubt that. For the most part, I think voters just selected the first name they came to or the name that seemed most recognizable, without really knowing anything about either candidate.
WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US
There are about 218,959,000 Americans who are eligible to vote. The number of Americans registered to vote is about 146,311,000 – i.e. 67% of those eligible to vote. On August 2nd, in Precinct 690, only 19% of those registered to vote actually voted. And, out of those who voted, only 53% voted for PCO, with a deciding factor being the first name they came to or the name that seemed most recognizable. I understand that running for PCO (or Dogcatcher) isn’t in the same universe as running for President but I do believe these voter statistics and this voter logic applies to both enough that it explains how we have ended up with the Two Evils, None the Lesser choice between Clinton and Trump.
MY NOBLE (NON-LOWLY) EXPERIENCE
As I said earlier, I came close to not filing for reelection this year. But, once I did and I learned I was being opposed, I determined to give it my best. Going in to it, I didn’t know what my chances of winning were but I was truly ambivalent about it. My sense was that, if the Lord wanted to use me in that role, I’d win and if I lost, He had something else in mind for me. So, at the end of it, I can say that I know I gave it my best and that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
MY GRATIFYING EXPERIENCE
Finally, I want to say a heartfelt “Thank you!” to those who did vote for me and those who, lovingly, said they would if they could.