They say politics are as much about timing and opportunity as anything. And sometimes, the timing and opportunity just aren’t there. So, what do you do when you suffer a political loss?
If you’re Fred Deutsch, you come back work hard, and & win!
If you don’t know Fred, you should. And his story is a powerful one, especially about perseverance. As noted on his web site:
I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor. Following WWII, Dad immigrated to the United States, married an American woman and spent his life working as a laborer. Dad had little more than a sixth grade education when he was taken to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. He was never able to go back to school, but growing up he taught me important lessons including the value and dignity of work. His mantra to me as a child was, “I want a better life for you.” I continue to hear that refrain in my head today, and it’s the main reason why I am running for the South Dakota State Legislature: Simply put, I want a better life for every South Dakotan, and for all our children.
I’m the only one in my family fortunate enough to go college. I put myself through eight years of college working as a janitor cleaning floors and toilets, security guard, grocery store clerk, and factory-line worker.
I met my wife, Kathleen, while going to chiropractic school in the Cities. She’s a native of Webster. Some 30+ years ago we moved to an acreage in rural Codington County and we’ve lived in the same house ever since. Together we’ve raised four daughters that are now grown and we’ve begun to experience the joy of being grandparents.
Based on Fred’s “Can do” attitude, I wanted his take on what he did to prepare for a winning run just after a hard fought loss just two years hence. So, here’s 5 questions with Dr. Fred Deutsch:
1. Fred, 2 years ago you had been beaten in a House primary. What did you do to lay the groundwork for your 2014 run?
Initially it was a lot of time spent with my wife Kathleen discussing and praying if I should run again. We made the decision to try again in early February. The first thing I did was put together core team of supporters to help. We started by analyzing voting data from my prior race by county, community and precinct. We developed strategies based on the data. I kicked off my initial fund-raising appeal on Valentine’s Day.
2. How would you say your run for office this time was different than 2 years ago? Did facing different opponents help? Or did the open seat have more to do with it?
They were different races. Two years ago the match-up was Democrats Kathy Tyler and Jim Peterson versus Republicans Jim Gilkerson and me. Tyler and Peterson won seats, with Tyler receiving most votes followed by Peterson.
In the current race, Peterson ran unopposed for the Senate, leaving an open seat. Incumbent Tyler ran with newcomer Democrat Peggy Schulke, and I ran with Republican newcomer John Wiik.
There were a few things that made this race different: first, Representative Tyler had a voting record that was different than the beliefs of most District 4 voters. Second, I had greater name recognition than I did the first time I ran. Third, though I worked very hard two years ago, I worked even harder this time. Losing the first election motivated me to keep going even when I was exhausted. I knocked on almost every door, attended as many functions as possible, and met as many people as I could.
The election results show the difference. Though fewer people voted in 2014 than in 2012, my margin increased from 425 to 840 votes in three counties, and in Grant County, the largest of the four counties and Representative Tyler’s home, I lost by only 4 votes – compared to 932 votes in 2012.
3. Did you run as a team more this time with John Wiik, than the last time when you lost with Jim Gilkerson? Is that important in a house race?
We cooperated as much as possible in both races, with the realization that voters still vote for individuals.
4. Multiple people were out there holding Kathy Tyler responsible for her voting record. Do you think a greater contrast between the candidates was drawn this time? And was that important in your win?
My positions and values were a sharp contrast from Representative Tyler. Voters found my positions matched their views. Two years ago neither of us had a record, so differences were more difficult to delineate. This time the differences were clear, and I believe were one of the factors that allowed me to win.
5. What advice do you have for Republicans who lost this go around, and may be thinking of trying again?
Start early, fundraise, and don’t give up! My initial loss makes my recent victory even sweeter, and the following quotes sent to me by friends even more meaningful:
* Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
* Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
* Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.
* A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.