There's no shame in losing a political contest. Sometimes, despite the pundits' tendency to over-analyze, there's no rhyme nor reason to it either.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale was able to employ a little humor the morning after the election when an earnest reporter asked him why he lost the short but hard-fought U.S. Senate race against former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.
The reason he lost, Mondale said with a straight face, was that because as of 5 a.m. on Nov. 6, his opponent had more votes than he did.
That sort of perspective reminds us that losing an election doesn't negate the contributions made by those candidates who find themselves on the losing side when all the votes are tallied.
Two longtime Crow Wing County elected officials who were defeated this year immediately come to mind: Crow Wing County Sheriff Dick Ross and State Sen. Don Samuelson, DFL-Brainerd.
Ross can look back with pride on a law enforcement career that goes back more than 42 years when he was hired as an Ironton police officer. Two years later he joined the sheriff's department where he served as a jailer, sergeant, captain and for 12 years as chief deputy. His calm demeanor, even in crisis situations, served him well in his law enforcement career. Ross also proved his political resiliency by coming back to defeat then-Sheriff Frank Ball in 1990, after losing his first run for sheriff in 1986.
Samuelson, like Ross, has experienced defeat at the polls before. In 1978 he was ousted from his state House seat by Paul Thiede. He bounced back, was elected to the Senate in 1982, and eventually was elected president of the Senate.
No lawmaker fought harder for the people of his district, playing key roles in keeping the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center open and working for the $23 million expansion of Central Lakes College. In addition to his dogged dedication, he also had an infectious sense of humor and a realistic perspective on politics that made it easier for independents and Republicans to occasionally support him.
Both men served this area well for many years and bowed out with grace when the public saw fit to choose other candidates. They may have lost at the polls last week but they earned and kept the respect of their fellow citizens many years ago.
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