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After pouring over $100,000 of his own money into his campaign, Jim Neal only took second place in this year's primary for the Democratic nomination to challenge North Carolina's Republican U.S. Senator Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole. Yet he's amazingly calm and upbeat.
"I am in anything but depression," Neal told me in a recent phone interview. "I was passionate about what I was doing, and I continue to be passionate about the issues that drove me to run."
That's an incredibly refreshing response from a candidate. None of the multitude of candidates I've worked with over the years who spent their own money and then went on to lose were ever quite so gracious or so upbeat. Maybe it's the southern upbringing. Maybe it's because, as a gay man, Jim Neal understands just how long it really takes to win - whether we're talking about one race or LGBT rights.
But what could be more quixotic than an openly gay man running in a southern state against a Republican incumbent? How about an openly gay man running in a southern state primary election against an establishment Democratic woman candidate who was recruited to run so that the openly gay man would not be the nominee?
"People thought, 'He can't beat Elizabeth Dole because he's gay.' Quite frankly, I think beating Dole would have been easier than winning the primary," said Neal, who lost the May 6 primary to veteran North Carolina State Senator Kay Hagan.
The story of Neal's campaign is simple. He was an insurgent Democrat running against an establishment candidate. He had success raising money from that establishment in 2004 for various candidates, but when it came to his own race, "politicians have very short memories." He was only able to raise about $330,000, with close to a third of it coming from a personal loan he made to his campaign's coffers.
But establishment Democrats weren't the only ones to abandon Neal's race. The Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund both took a pass. For those two groups, it all comes down to viability: Does the candidate have a field operation? Can she or he raise money? Can the candidate win?
I understand the notion of not supporting a gay candidate just because the candidate is gay. There has to be a dividing line between investing campaign funds and throwing the money down a losing drain. But it seems to me that both HRC and the Victory Fund missed the boat on this race.
According to Neal and media reports, he and Hagan were running neck and neck in the polls until a month or so before the primary. That's when Hagan, who had access to money - lots of it - was able to put her message on TV. That's when an infusion of cash from HRC, the Victory Fund, and the network of donors who follow their lead would have been crucial for Neal to keep up.
"HRC and other LGBT interest groups do their own calculus, they have their own notion of viability," said Neal. "But if people are going to wait to see if you're going to raise money as a viability test, but aren't willing to give you money to get there, you'll never meet the threshold. The logic is twisted."
Viability is a real chicken-and-egg political question, and unfortunately, there's no right answer. Each campaign's strengths and weaknesses have to be taken into account. In Neal's case, I think HRC and the Victory Fund only looked at the weaknesses. Jim has some real strengths - he's a local boy who has made good; his heart is in politics to speak for those without a voice; and he understands how money has become the "dirty underbelly of our democracy." He also had a good campaign with a field operation across the state and access to the media.
Neal also went all over the state talking to real people about their real problems. "I visited communities where folks didn't have running water, and where they were going broke just trying to get to work," he said. "Unfortunately, there's no money in these communities, so they don't get the kind of attention they need when budgets are drawn up and priorities are set. And these are the people who need it the most."
He said running for office was one of the most wonderful things he's ever done, because of the folks he got to meet along the way. And it's those folks - the ones without indoor plumbing, who can't afford gas at over $4 a gallon - who are fueling what he does next.
"Every day people taught me more about what was going in their lives than any research paper or any article I could read in the local papers or The New York Times."
And what are his next steps? "I have a couple of ideas about things I can do in the private sector to foster making social investments in communities, like putting money behind people who are trying to start businesses. The idea is to create a venture capital fund that won't be earning competitive financial returns, but will be earning returns by strengthening the fabric of communities."
Perhaps, like Al Gore, Jim Neal can have more of an impact as a private citizen with a vision than as an elected official with an agenda.
Libby Post is the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and a political commentator on public radio, on the Web, and in print media. She can be reached at LesbianNotions@qsyndicate.com.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stay safe and get tested!
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Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
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Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.