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Why I am thankful I lost that election

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This last week represents the 10 year anniversary of the sudden end to a fascinating eight month rollercoaster ride which started for me on Saturday, January 3rd of 2004.

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

On that cold, wintery day, my family and I drove to the north side of Marshall, Oklahoma where we nervously solicited the support of our first voter for the office of State Representative. It would be the first of thousands of such visits over the course of the next eight months.

This hard work paid off on primary election day, July 27, 2004, when I finished first out of the six candidate Republican primary – Oklahoma’s most crowded House primary – by a 20 point margin of 44% – 24%.

Despite this margin of victory, I did not win the election because Oklahoma election law requires the winner of a primary to receive at least 50% of the vote. This meant I was required to face the second place candidate during a runoff election to be held a month later, on August 24.

Of course, that fact didn’t seem particularly troubling as it would be highly unusual for a second place finisher to make up a 20 point margin in just one month’s time.

But that’s exactly what happened. I lost the runoff election.

It is not easy to experience defeat, especially when expecting to win and after months of outworking the opposition. I felt the sting of rejection and had a difficult time seeing a silver lining to this unexpected turn of events.

But as I look back to that time, I have become extremely thankful for how those events unfolded. 

After that defeat, my term as City Councilman expired and I was no longer in the public eye as an elected official. For those few months I was on the outside and had the opportunity for thoughtful reflection.

That reflection was enhanced when the Jack Abramahoff scandal occurred in Washington, DC and I saw how and why Republican politicians in Congress failed to deliver on their goal of smaller government and fiscal conservatism. The lobbyists who funded their campaigns and DC lifestyle had irrevocably compromised the politicians to a point of no return and Republicans would pay a heavy price in the 2006 elections.

It was at that time I resolved that if I were ever to return to elected office, I would draw a line and refuse gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists. I didn’t want to be like those DC Republicans.

It’s since been my observation that those Legislators who don’t draw a line are playing with fire on a daily basis. Many individuals of character who are elected to office are slowly drawn into a compromised state of which they are not cognizant, simply because they don’t start out by drawing a clear line over which they will not cross.

I now look back on that painful defeat in August of 2004 as a tremendous blessing for which I will always be thankful. Had I won that day, I would have taken office as so many others do without drawing a clear line of distinction between myself and special interests. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was much better prepared to serve in office at a later date because of this defeat and the ensuing self reflection.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions. 

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