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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: In Need

By Kevin O'Toole, June 10 2021 12:01 am

I was talking to my friend, Victor, the other day, and he told me that he was reaching out to a friend who had suffered a recent loss, a rather public defeat—which is a rare thing these days.  Our conversation set me to thinking about the proper political protocol for when a person suffers a political defeat (but this can apply to any sort of loss).

Here is a tidbit that has stayed with me for life: the person who just won a landslide race is not the one who needs the consoling phone call or meeting. It is the person who suffered the loss or defeat who needs the pick-me-up phone call or surprise social call.  In our business, the winners get the glory, but the so-called losers are the ones who are, truly, in need of a friend.

Winners, like a light bulb under a midnight moon, draw activity from the fluttering masses. I find it fascinating that the fence sitters and late breakers are the ones who cozy up, at lightning speed, to those just arriving in the winner’s circle. Speaking of those folks, check the forty-eight-hour and twenty-four-hour ELEC notices, and you will see the true political gamers who live in the lines of this profession we call politics.

It is always an absolute certainty that you will see political groupies around the winners.  And what type of badge of courage does it really take to hang with the anointed winner? The answer: zero courage.

On the other hand, however, it takes true character to stay close to those who come up short.  The truth of the matter is that it not only is the right thing to comfort the loser but also is smart politics.

Chances are the currently downtrodden individual will see less than a handful around that table in the local diner as you talk about the truly important things in life—health, the kids, a happy marriage, or that next race (the reason you went to a diner is to show the world that you are not embarrassed to be seen with the non-winner).

I would coach those readers who have not done so to think about reaching out to the losers of recent elections, or those who have found themselves on the wrong side of some very public decision, and make a friend.

It goes a long way.


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