Retired Fed May Have Determined Control of Senate

A retired civil service employee may have determined the control of the Senate when she received about 1% of the vote in a very close election race.

What are you going to do in your retirement?

One federal retiree may have had an impact in determining which party controls the Senate in its next session.

Most of us probably think that one person cannot make a difference. But Gail Parker may have made a difference in her race for the Senate in the State of Virginia. Anyone can run for office for any reason sufficient to fuel a passion for spending time and money to advance a cause or just for the personal satisfaction running.

Parker probably didn’t really think she had a chance of winning the election or the overall vote total but the retired civil servant has passion and commitment beyond what most of us demonstrate for a cause we believe in. Her web site proudly states that she was a “dedicated and loyal US civil servant for 34 years.” She was known as “Gail the Rail” during the campaign because of her concern about public transportation. She received about $1200 in donations and apparently donated another $18,000 or so to her campaign. She ran as a fiscal conservative and wanted to balance the federal budget–a position that many in Virginia would agree within a state with many fiscally conservative voters.

She ran for the Senate as a member of the Independent Green Party of Virginia. She received about 27,000 votes in the Senate election. The apparent winner of the Senate seat, Jim Webb, won the election by about 7000 votes.

Two weeks ago, Parker offered her support to the candidate that would adopt her position for a high speed rail system in the State of Virginia. Neither candidate took her up on the offer. That may have been a mistake as enough of her supporters may have gone to the candidate willing to adopt her position.

For those federal employees who are familiar with the traffic situation in Northern Virginia, a good day for those who live close to work is about 30 minutes. Many thousands of federal employees commute 1.5 to two hours or more each way. That, no doubt, influenced Ms. Parker’s passion for a high speed rail system.

Her hard work and the time and money she spent resulted in receiving about 1% of the vote total. That does not sound like a lot but, if you were a major party candidate who won or lost by 7000 votes, supporting her cause may have been worth it.

Most people want to make a difference in the lives of others. Some, such as Gail Parker, extend themselves to work hard for what the really believe in–not a bad way to devote time and energy for a retired federal employee.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47