It’s been said, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” But just because a sport is rough doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Think football. In 2008, I got a kick out of canvassing for Obama and his victory party on Election Night was electrifying.
That was national politics. I normally stay away from the Forest Park brand. But when my neighbor Rory Hoskins asked for help with his campaign for state representative, I promised to knock on some doors. It wasn’t just that Rory is a friend; I thought he was the best qualified candidate and that having a Forest Parker in Springfield could only help us.
At his campaign kickoff, a prominent politician told me Rory’s battle would be of the David vs. Goliath variety. He would be outspent and the political establishment would be firmly in an opponent’s corner. That didn’t discourage me. I don’t think a contest is hopeless until the final bounce. Think ping-pong.
I climbed front stairs in South River Forest. I was continuing a family tradition. My grandmother was a Democratic precinct captain in River Forest for decades.
I enjoyed talking to many well-informed voters. If they didn’t know Rory, I could talk about his virtues at length. As one woman said, “You gave me 10 reasons to vote for him in three minutes.”
It took me three trips to cover my territory. I wasn’t alone. Rory had plenty of volunteers spreading his message across the district. When Election Day came, many of us agreed to hand out Rory’s campaign cards outside polling places.
I was stationed at Field-Stevenson. It wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as canvassing because there were long periods of boredom between voters. Most of the ones I met, though, expressed support for Rory. After the polls closed, I went to Rory’s election night gala at Jimmy’s Place with the gut feeling he had pulled off a “David.”
When the first returns came in, the crowd was euphoric. They remained positive through the evening, as Rory kept a steady lead. But about the time the pizza was getting cold, the race tightened. The crowd cooled, too. The final tally at 10:30 showed Rory had slipped behind by 37 votes. One of his volunteers complained bitterly, “I’m tired of Pyrrhic victories; I wanted a win.”
Still, there was hope. The three late-reporting precincts were in Forest Park, River Forest and Westchester, where Rory had enjoyed support. The next morning, Rory still trailed by 15. By the time he held a post-election meeting on Saturday; the deficit had grown to 30.
There are simple explanations for why Rory is behind: 76 percent of the registered voters chose not to “play” on the warmest Election Day in Chicago history. Plus, two extra candidates siphoned votes he normally would have gotten. But Rory’s asking for a recount.
Maybe the fun is just starting.