Last night, after it sunk in that Claudia Wright was not going to win the primary, I was incredibly upset. I took a picture of my face mid-cry just for a souvenir. I don’t normally cry and hug everyone around me, but last night was a big blow to a team that put in a huge amount of work for something they believed in. Initially it felt as if we lost, but as Claudia reminded us at the 2010 Utah State Convention where she took 45% of the vote, we already won regardless of the outcome of the election.
Everyone on the Claudia campaign knows that they were doing the right thing. The $750,000 Matheson spent was more than 37 times the $20,000 spent by Wright — but she took 1/3 of the votes. We took a candidate who started as a frustrated citizen responding to a Craigslist ad and turned her into a candidate for US Congress. We made Jim Matheson show face to his LGBT constituents and take responsibility for his energy, health care and environmental votes — but most importantly — acknowledge the value of the trust voters give him each time he is elected.
Tim DeChristopher put it best as the reality of last night sunk in, “The value of this [campaign] to me is that we built this community regardless of the odds. The only thing that gives me hope is we still have this community.”
Before this campaign, I didn’t even know what hydraulic fracturing was. I did not know there was a bill that passed in 2005 which made gas companies exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act, Clean Air Act or Superfund laws. I hadn’t seen Gasland and I was oblivious to the consequences of the bill. I did not know Jim Matheson voted for this bill. During the campaign though, I met a Claudia supporter who recycles the water used in hydraulic fracturing. I would have never known the value of what he does or that he was a part of our SLC community without this campaign.
I met a librarian who worked on the campaign because she wants a better world for her son. I met and became friends with the wonderful people of Peaceful Uprising. I met former Republicans who didn’t mind changing their party affiliation to contribute to the election of a person they could believe in. I met lawyers who wanted to run for office so they could challenge the constitutionality of gerrymandering to make the political climate in Utah healthier for candidates like Claudia Wright. I met former students of Claudia who spoke of how she changed their lives 20 years ago. Kim, from my softball team, went and made calls from Claudia the night before the election. I met a wonderful volunteer of Claudia’s who is in an incredibly unique band called La Farsa that will be performing at the Arts Festival this weekend.
I decided I wanted to go to law school.
We didn’t lose.