A Thank You Message From Chad
I started this campaign in January of 2018 with a few simple motivating notions and a naive misunderstanding of what I was getting myself into. I figured that 2018 was going to be too important to leave any race anywhere uncontested. The idea was that running someone everywhere, even in the longer shot races, was critical to making sure we were doing everything we could to help the nation course correct after 2016—that even a losing campaign could help produce results in overlapping and nearby districts. Additionally, I saw that the Democratic party had let itself become structurally weakened to the point of borderline irrelevancy all throughout rural America and it needed new people to invest time and energy in the process of rebuilding it. Furthermore, it was clear that the rural and small-town areas of upstate New York were in pain and had real issues stemming from decades of political neglect that needed to be highlighted. So, I figured someone had to run for the 101st and this time, it might as well be me.
At the time, I never imagined the scope of the life-changing adventure upon which I was embarking. I feel grateful beyond measure for the help and support we received during this campaign. With the hard work, donations, and love of hundreds of people from all over the country, we accomplished things in this campaign that were genuinely beyond comprehension to me at the start of this year. We highlighted regional issues and the ills of gerrymandering in the national news. We uncovered and exposed fraud and abuse in our political system. We had a direct boots-on-the-ground role in turning out voters who flipped two seats in the US Congress and two seats in the New York Senate—helping do our very real part to turn those chambers blue and get our country and our state back on track in the face of the greatest political crisis in decades. We also had thousands of human-to-human conversations with people all over the district that helped in many small ways to heal the toxic tribal divide being driven by a national political culture that uses fear of the other to exploit people for political power. While doing all this, we also put up the most spirited challenge the 101st has ever seen—and we had a lot of fun in the process.
I am also personally forever changed by this experience. I overcame a significant fear of public speaking, the culmination of which involved being on a stage in front of 1500 people. I had to learn to navigate between the need to rally people to a cause with my name plastered all over it (and my own literal theme song) and the psychological dangers of ego and self-aggrandizement. I also was made to notice my own cultural and class biases, sometimes painfully, as I interacted with people from a very wide variety of socioeconomic circumstances. And I had some fantastic personal triumphs (publishing a piece in the New York Times, being interviewed by the BBC, getting made fun of by Samantha Bee) that are still making me smile at random times throughout the day.
I will be unpacking the events of this last year for a long time to come. I feel like I am only beginning to appreciate the scope and meaning of the support and friendship and hard work that flowed into this endeavor. However, it is already clear, we accomplished something important and positive that will have lasting impacts on not just our politics, but on anyone who was part of it.
With Love and Profound Gratitude,