After months of campaigning, a candidate wakes up on Election Day and is "scared," said Jo Ann Nardelli, who twice ran unsuccessfully for Blair County commissioner.
"You've devoted a lot of money and time," she said.
Life has been put on hold for months, if not over a year. Personal money has been spent. There's the exhaustion of the campaign, and yet the outcome, the reward for all that hard work, is not clear, Nardelli said this week as she described the angst of a candidate on Election Day.
There are "ups and downs" that day, she said. At poll after poll, some voters reject the candidate's literature, others give the "high sign," and still others approach and make conversation.
"You are numb. ... You've done what you can do. ... It's in God's hands," she said.
She said the obvious question an unsuccessful candidate asks at the end of the day is, "What should I have done?"
Nardelli was among several Blair County politicians who experienced tough elections in the last few years.
They all tell of how anxious, tough or devastating Election Day can be.
But none regretted their months of campaigning, the good feeling that comes with a win or the doors that opened even with a loss.
Former Judge Norman D. Callan experienced mixed results in his four election campaigns, and former state senator and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Robert Jubelirer won nine of 10 elections over a 32-year period, the last one a primary loss to now state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr.
The experience of seeking office drew the most out of the candidates as they took time off from their normal lives to enter the public arena.
Election Day brought on an adrenaline rush, a spirited gallop from precinct to precinct.
Then the week after election, "You crash; you are so exhausted," said Nardelli.
Former Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority, a Democrat, retired from office a year ago. She was undefeated in elections, but she said that running for office "is definitely quite an experience."
She said there is always the possibility you can lose, and then there is the nagging question: "What am I going to do [if I lose]?"
She said candidates "work so hard. They put their lives on hold to pursue this dream."
Gority was assisted in her Election Day activities by her husband, John. She said they had a ritual on election night of pulling up all their yard signs and putting them in a truck, noting she did not want to see one of her signs sitting there the day after the election was over.
Callan was initially appointed to office, then lost an election. He was appointed again and won an election but after 10 years, he lost the retention vote. His quest for a second 10-year-term also ended with a loss.
In all, he spent 12 years on the bench. He called the losses devastating and said he has no desire to go through another election.
He said the campaign energized him and on Election Day, "The adrenaline is still going," he added.
He said he usually spent Election Day at the polls and he learned that trying to go poll-to-poll is more tiring than staying at one place, which he did in his last bid for office.
In his successful bid for a 10-year term, Callan remembers going door-to-door, and said he always had a positive attitude that "things were going to go well" on Election Day.
Losing, he said, is "tough, especially when you put in the effort."
Jubelirer used the word "anxiety" to describe his feelings on Election Day. He added a proviso, noting, "The more you work and the more you feel you've done everything you could do, the less the anxiety."
"I never feared feeling terrible because I didn't do enough," said Jubelirer.
He said he never worked so hard as he did in his last race. He said he looked into the mirror and concluded, "I did everything I could possibly do. ... That's a good feeling."
He said if the candidate has his supporters on the ground working, there is no reason to fear anything. If the candidate is not prepared, then there is apt to be trepidation, Jubelirer said.
The now former politicians all loved what they did, regardless of the outcomes.
"You meet great people. I enjoy it. I enjoy the people. I enjoy being out there," Nardelli said. Since her last bid for office two years ago, she has switched from Democrat to Republican and intends to help people get to the polls today.
Callan, who has returned to the practice of law, said he sometimes misses going to political gatherings.
Jubelirer, like Nardelli said, "I enjoyed it. I enjoyed campaigning and I enjoyed talking to people and meeting people."
He discussed his election experience Monday just before teaching a political science class at Penn State Altoona.
And Gority, who became deeply involved in human services during her time as commissioner, was on her way to a board meeting in western Pennsylvania on Monday morning.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.