Notes from the Campaign Trail

And there I sat, looking at the ballot with my name on it: Scyller J. Borglum for Representative of District 32 in the Republican Primary. Five months of knocking on doors, organizing help, and putting up signs rushed on me. I sat there for a moment taking it all in.

And then, in keeping with the times, I took a picture (pictures of ballots are allowed so long as there are no markings on it).

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Last December, one of our local Representatives passed away unexpectedly. The Governor put out a request for volunteers to be appointed to his position. After visiting with the point man in charge of collecting names and resumes, it turned out that I lived in the wrong district. “However,” he went on, “one of the representatives in your district will term out. You should consider running.”

I met with State Senators and Representatives over the next couple weeks. I spoke with my Sweetie, my parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law. Launching a campaign while finishing my dissertation, defending, graduating, and ostensibly starting a new career did not strike me as reasonable.

Except, except, except… I really wanted to run for office.

A year ago I met with a behind the scenes fellow and he told me in no uncertain terms, “Scyller. There is never a good time to run for office. You just have to do it.”

In January, my Sweetie and I drove to Pierre (pronounced PEER) and met with my District Representatives and Senator. The outgoing Representative introduced me to the Republican Caucus and the Senator sent me out the door with my ballot petitions in hand. We are doing it.

Now, I won’t tell you my campaign strategy except to say a couple of things. First, several people gave me great advice. Knocking on doors was the best way to meet my constituents, hear their concerns, and introduce myself.

Second, I attended every meet-and-greet, every forum, and every opportunity to introduce myself. Three candidates put their name in for two slots. One as an incumbent and one who ran before and had 23 years in our District. As a relative newcomer, I had a great deal of ground to make up in a very short amount of time.

While on the Campaign Trail, one unexpected theme became clear. Despite what we hear in popular media and on the news, I did not run into acrimonious sputtering or vitriolic diatribes. In fact, people were pleasant.

Every evening I laced up my “Trail Shoes” and my Sweetie did the double check: do you have your Camelbak? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Beretta bag with handouts? Check, Check!!

A note on my Beretta bag — a friend at work gave this to me so I had a handy bag for my shotgun shells while shooting trap/skeet. Serendipitously, it was also the perfect size to hold my door to door handouts! One evening, a fellow answered the door — and uncertain of my Republicany-ness — wanted to know where I stood on guns and the 2nd Amendment. I pointed to the logo on my Beretta bag and saucily replied, “This should tell you.” He paused, caught off guard. Then he recovered, “well it’s not a Kimber, but I suppose you’ll do.” And I secured his vote.

Primary Day raced upon us and I hung up my trail shoes. Nothing to do now but vote, wait, and eat a cupcake.

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And wait. And wait. And wait.

Several Precincts had computer and internet issues which meant they opened late. Which meant they closed late. Which meant ballot counting did not end until after my bedtime.

My Sweetie and I made the rounds to the various Victory Parties (did everyone know their outcome except me?!) and I finally called it a night.

Except that I woke up every 15 minutes or so to check my phone for the latest numbers.

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The next morning my phone blew up with notes of congratulations. Colleagues and neighbors sent flowers. Friends as far away as Washington, Texas, and California kept tabs on my race. I won the top slot in my District.

For now, I am taking the summer off. The signs are down, I am catching up on all the To Do items I let fall off the list, and thinking … this is the perfect time to run for office.

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