Democracy Inaction

Mr. Gonz doesn't go to Washington

On one hand, I thought Bernstein was delusional and told him so. The reality of the race, even back in August, was that the two of us were going to get swallowed whole and, if we were lucky, burped out at a later date. On the flip side, every politician is a self-preservationist/egotist. We don't want to stop fighting, because the more votes we get, the less pathetic we look.

I had looked pathetic long enough. I decided to employ every possible trick to court more votes. I cut my hair and bought a new suit. I put an American flag pin on my lapel and tried to act respectable (that is, I stopped screaming wildly at people). I even wore a tie. I went on NBC 5 and answered questions the way pols always have--by trumpeting myself and lambasting the incumbent. (The TV gig went well until the end, when I made a joke about myself and used the homeless as the unfortunate punch line.) I did everything I could to play the part, albeit like a B-movie actor.

With little left to do before the election, I threw a party. Actually, my two biggest backers, Dawn and Nick Rizos, threw a party at Stratos Greek restaurant on Northwest Highway. It was a grand affair, complete with T-shirts and "Gonz for Congress" stickers and more food and drink than any of us could have consumed. The 30 or so people who showed up had a good time, and more than one of them remarked about my metamorphosis from an irreverent, sneakers-and-jeans sports reporter to a cleaner-cut, quasi-All-American candidate.

Only Gonz would hold a pre-election rally outside his district.
Mark Graham
Only Gonz would hold a pre-election rally outside his district.
More than 6,000 Texans think Gonz should represent them in D.C. That's scary. Really, really scary.
Bottom photo by Merritt Martin
More than 6,000 Texans think Gonz should represent them in D.C. That's scary. Really, really scary.

It was strange, really. At the beginning, I got into the race because I was disenchanted. I wasn't going to conform; I was going to lash out like a whip. By the end, when I realized it wasn't working, I listened to my handlers and changed my image. I felt like Robert Redford from the last scenes in The Candidate, where he looks around and wonders how he went from speaking his mind to doing anything for one more vote.

The difference, of course, is that Redford's character wins his election.

It is now after midnight. No word yet on who our next president will be, but 100 percent of the precincts have reported in from District 5. A few hours ago, while Brokaw was blathering, I was convinced that I'd go down as one of the biggest failures in Texas political history. But as more of the Dallas precincts reported in (where I concentrated my campaign efforts), something changed and I began to compile more votes. By 9 p.m., I had more than double what Michalski got in 2002 (though, it should be noted in fairness, far more people voted this time). By 11 p.m., I had eclipsed the 5,000-vote mark--a number I never thought I'd reach. The final tally:

Hensarling (R) 148,617--64 percent

Bernstein (D) 75,809--33 percent

Gonzalez (L) 6,101--3 percent

(Note: Fox and NBC rounded me down to 2 percent; CNN and ABC rounded up to 3 percent. Like Michalski, I also now advocate rounding up.)

In the 32 congressional races in Texas, 24 Libertarians faced both a Democrat and a Republican. Only three of those managed to get more than 5,000 votes and/or 3 percent of their district or better, and I was one of them--the cream of an especially sour crop.

It's odd. For almost a year, I spent most of my free time working on the campaign or complaining about working on the campaign. But now that it's over, I miss the rush that only politics can afford.

"You should run for office now," my mother suggested when we talked on the phone after the final numbers came in.

"But Mom, I just ran for office."

"No, no," she explained, "you should join a party. You know, and run for real."

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