For over a year a group of passionate, committed people have been working to build the infrastructure, grassroots support, and fundraising network to support serious, credible independent candidates for statewide office. We knew there were big barriers for independent candidates but we believed the time was right for America and the numbers were telling that story more and more every day.
Some of this had been tried before with little success. It usually failed for one big reason, in my view: lack of actual serious, credible independent candidates. So I spent most of my energy trying to find and recruit candidates. Recruiting someone to run for city council or even state legislature is one thing. But asking someone to run for Governor or US Senate is an enormous deal. It requires a complete devotion — an all-in attitude and a willingness to disrupt your normal life in major ways. I had to be honest with people about that.
Running as an independent is also very difficult. There are fundamental barriers put up by the political parties that make it hard. There are psychological barriers for many voters who have a hard time believing independents can win. There are political pundits and party bosses who want to dismiss independents at every turn. And this is just the beginning of the list. So I had to be honest about that.
It’s also an expensive and life-altering undertaking. It’s a major life decision for anyone taking it seriously. It affects every area of your life. I have walked through this decision with many great people. Many have decided not to run because of the things I’ve outlined above. I had to be honest about this, too.
But, we said we were going to do this and we had to try. I was optimistic, but cautious. I didn’t know if the caliber of people we sought would step up. I knew they were out there, feeling the way many of us do about the need for new, independent leadership in our country. But I wasn’t sure if they’d take the leap.
So yesterday, when Neal Simon launched his independent campaign for US Senate it was a deeply moving moment for me. It was deeply gratifying, I know, for many of us who have passionately worked to make this new way a reality for America. This comes on the heels of Greg Orman launching his gubernatorial bid in Kansas just over a week ago. Governor Bill Walker is leading the way in Alaska as our nation’s only independent governor and is up for re-election. Terry Hayes already holds statewide office as Maine’s independent treasurer and is seeking to serve the state as its next Governor. And there are more to come. I promise you that.
So many people have said along the way, “it can’t be done.” To them, I say: we are already doing it. It is not insignificant that we are delivering on our first promise: to bring forward serious, credible independent candidates. We said we’d do it and we are doing it.
Now it’s up to the voters of each state to elect them and it’s up to each of our campaigns to run great operations and carry inspiring messages that will unite the country and lead to victory. But no one can ever take this away from us. We did it. We are hitting our first milestones. Celebrate that with us and take the next step in your own journey by visiting each of their websites, signing up, contributing and volunteering. Spread the word. We need your help.
As we were reflecting on his launch last night Neal compared our collective journey to climbing Mount Everest. As you do this, there are a number “base camps” on the way up where you stop and rest and regroup for the next push. The first one is, in itself, tough to reach and requires tremendous planning and the effort of many hands. As Neal said, “we’ve reached base camp one.” There’s a big mountain ahead. And there will be other key stops along the way. But climb the mountain we will.