Jim Furlong: A Trip to the Polls

It is election time. Careers will be made and unmade in May. Hearts will soar and other hearts will be broken. I ran in a provincial election a long time ago. I learned much. My position today is that it is important to run. It is not important to win. I keep telling myself that anyway. 

A lesson in humility

My undoing in seeking office in that election is that the Liberal tide wasn’t running and my opponent was almost unbeatable. He was the late Dr. John Collins, a kind man who everybody liked. I remember campaigning on Power Street in the district of St. John’s South while Dr. John was going door to door. I saw him go up a gallery and knock on a door and when an elderly woman answered, he tipped his hat. “Houston; we have a problem.” When I saw that I had a dark feeling that it was going “into the fan.” Dr. John Collins going door to door was like Moonlight Graham, the kindly old ball player turned doctor in Field of Dreams. Despite my best efforts, Dr. John Collins won in a walk and I learned, among other things, a lesson in humility. 

What were the other lessons learned? The “takeaway” as they call it now on the news channels. Well in the previous election there had been a weak Liberal candidate who was not well funded. He polled exactly the same number of votes that I did as a Liberal candidate although I was well funded, had a strong election team, and worked like a dog. I also learned in my unsuccessful election bid about donations. 

A fish company gave me $3,000. I was surprised to find out, although maybe I shouldn’t have been, the company gave money as well to Dr. John Collins. More actually than they gave to me. Politics is marvellous. Whoever wins owes a debt of gratitude to somebody. 

Grownup world

What else did I learn? Well through the nomination process and through a lengthy campaign and pounding the streets and knocking on doors I learned that if I had all the votes that were promised to me… I would have been a runaway winner!!! Anyone who runs for office for any party discovers that. 

I went briefly to Dr. Collins headquarters on Shaw Street on election night to offer my congratulations and there drinking his beer were some of the same faces that had promised me their vote. Welcome to the grownup world! 

Finally… was it all worth it? Yes for sure it was. It was a marvellous experience. Steve Neary told me once that timing was everything in politics and it wasn’t my time. It was also a realization that working hard and doing your best isn’t always enough unless you believe that the GOAL itself is; working hard and doing your best. As for the district I didn’t win but Dr. John Collins turned out to be a good MHA who served the district well. He was the choice of the people. That is called; democracy.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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