Over the next few weeks my campaign flew into overdrive; but we were already behind in the game. My main opponents had several weeks head start. Funding was an issue in the first couple of weeks; but then old supporters again decided to back me and funding started rolling in.
"Bryce, you have a campaign speech to the workers at the Municipal Machine Parts and Co. at twelve; then lunch with the Governor at one. You need his backing just to get into this thing" Sara informed me. "Yes, I am well aware of that" I spat out. Early mornings and very late nights are catching up to me. "Can you schedule a couple of hours for me to get some sleep?" I added.
She flipped open her diary and replied, "Tuesday next week looks good". I smiled and then yawned. "Not sleeping much?" she asked. "Chances would be good; but speeches, rallies, phone calls to contributors, its endless" I replied. "I think we need a lot more help" I added.
"Already in hand. I have some interns starting today, and some assistants later this afternoon" she replied. "What do the polls say today?" I asked. "The post has you in third, but the gap is closing" she replied.
"So what are the numbers?" I asked. "Governor Stanford is your nearest opponent. He is steady at 32%; Senator Danny Logan is holding his lead at 41%; and you, at 29%" she added. "We debate next week, then we go from there?" I asked. "That's the plan" she responded.
"Look Bryce, we have our campaign up and running. We came in late, but hey, we are climbing. Stanford's message has gotten lost. It's Danny we have to be concerned about. His record is similar to yours; in the military, in congress, and he is a year younger than you" she added.
"Logan is on TV" Miles announced. We walked back into the room and watched Senator Logan give an interview. He was calm, confident, and assured of what he was saying. He was handsome; his smile lit up the camera. "Wow, he is hot" announced Sara. "Hey! Whose side are you on?" I sniggered.
Over the next few days my numbers rose. I was now in second place. Still some ten points behind in the polls. Of the six candidates who started, two have withdrawn due to lack of support. The fourth place candidate, backed by an anti-gun lobby, was trailing badly with just 3% of the overall vote. Stanford now trailed me by six and Logan by sixteen. But this was only the first primary. Winning New Hampshire was not crucial; but I have to give a good showing.
Five days before the polls open, we had a 3rd and final debate. Only the top three candidates were invited and sanctioned by the party. Now, only three were in the running for New Hampshire. The lead held by Danny Logan had shrunk, as had the support for Stanford; his showing now only at 11%, and mine only a couple of percentage points behind Logan.
We hit the streets running, getting my message across. The country is in financial strife; it has been for over a decade. The Democrats had worsened the situation. I am not saying I have the ultimate solution; but I have a plan: a plan to make things better.
We debated on many issues; Danny giving everything he had to offer. I picked holes in his manifesto; as did Stanford. Don't get me wrong, he had some sound ideas; just not the foresight to implement them. I, however, gave a resounding display. The questions we were asked were fundamental in nature; basic ideas and concepts, save the planet and ourselves, basically. Stanford made the mistake of being backed by an oil conglomerate, while backing alternative fuels. He made himself look stupid, and the host pointed it out. He contradicted himself on more than one occasion, while Danny rallied.
The following day, the Post proclaimed me the winner of the last debate; and the polls showed the same. For the first time since I announced, I had taken the lead; and the timing couldn't have been better.
The day of the primary was long, no sleep again. We went to our campaign headquarters and waited for the results to start pouring in. Shortly after midnight, CNN and NBC proclaimed I had won the primary by a massive 8%. I was overjoyed. I received a call from the party chairman congratulating me on getting a good start.
"Bryce! Well done. Great job" he informed me
"Thank you. I have a great team. We have some caucus results to come in, but we are confident" I replied. "I think Stanford will carry on; well, for a short time at least" he added. "Yeah, he's a stubborn old goat. His last fling" I added.
"Anything we can do Bryce, within reason of course, in the spirit of impartiality you understand" he added "Thank you sir, but I think we have everything covered" I replied. Over the next month or so, my campaign picked up momentum. After the next several state primaries, of which I had won six and Danny Logan three; it was obvious to the good Governor it was time to call it a day. He dropped out; but refused to name his preferred choice.
When we hit Texas, Danny and I again debated the issues. Oil again reared its ugly head. Texas was an oil state, and I was on record as an alternative fuels candidate; but so was Danny. We both received a lukewarm response from the prospective voters; but the Democrat choices were just as firm as we were for finding the solution to our energy problems.
The convention was looming, as was the last of the big state primaries. I was up by 22%, but nothing was set in stone. I watched Danny campaign and could see his passion. I thought if I did not get the endorsement of the party, and go up against what looked to be Senator James Brent from California; I hoped Danny would blow him out of the water. That's if I don't get the chance, beforehand.
There was a week gap between Ohio and Louisiana, so I finally got to have some sleep. A couple of days before we were to debate again, Danny Logan called me.
"Senator, how are you today?" I asked. "Bryce, we need to talk, and I mean in private. Something has come up and we need to have a conversation; and not over the phone" Danny informed me.
"Who is in trouble, you or me?" I laughed out. "Bryce, you, me, and the Party; so, can we meet?" Danny asked.
"Yeah sure, where and when?" I asked. "Bryce, I am outside your hotel. Can I come up?" He asked.
"Sure, come up!" I informed him.
Three minutes later a knock at the door.
"Hello Danny. It's good to meet you outside the debate arena" I said to him; as he walked in, shook my hand, and took a seat.
"Drink?" I asked.
"Scotch, rocks" He replied.
I poured him his drink and handed it to him and sat down facing him.
"Not joining me?" he asked. "Tea-totaler. Never drank" I replied.
"Bryce, some information has come to my attention about personal issues" he started. "Oh yes, and what issues would those be, may I ask?" I enquired
"Bryce I know you are gay." He shocked the fuck out of me. "What are you talking about?" I demanded. "Bryce, the normal searches of candidates was conducted by my staff. I am sure you had one done on me" he went on. I could not deny his latter statement; it was standard practice. Digging for dirt, it was called.
"The investigator discovered your little trips south for a date, or a hook up. Okay, nothing scandalous, like paying for sex; but just as damning" he informed me. I was seeing my campaign going up in smoke.
"So, you want me to concede, is that it? Or you will reveal this bit of information?" I spat out, as I had nothing to lose.
"Well Bryce, he gave me art. He has photo's" he added, handing me a picture of me and Luke; a guy I knew a couple of years ago. I was standing in a window and Luke was kissing the back of my neck. It was pretty damning.
"Bryce, I have not come here to scandalise you, or blackmail you. It's just a friendly warning. This information will not be divulged by me nor my staff; but if we can find it, the press will eventually dig this shit up" Danny informed me.
"So what do you suggest" I asked. "After the results come in for the primaries, if you or I win; come clean. Start the real campaign with honesty. The American public will vote for whomever is best suited for the post; not for with whom he prefers to share his bed . And Bryce, just so you know, I admire you; and shit, I cannot believe I am going to tell you this; but...Bryce, I am gay, also" Danny informed me. He stood up walked over to me, and said..."So, clean fight; and may the best man win" he replied.
"Danny, thank you" I replied.
Danny looked at him and smiled. Bryce couldn't help himself, and reached over and pulled him from the neck and kissed him with more passion than he had ever mustered. Nobody had been close to taking his heart; but he felt some connection, some want, some desire for the good Senator.
"Danny, I am ahead in the polls; you know that. I would never out you, in any way. So, why are you not trying to ruin me and take the ticket?" I asked. "It's not who I am, or who I want to be" he replied.
"Good luck, Danny, and I truly mean that" I replied. Danny left the room and headed back to his own hotel; with a million questions whirling around his own head, as did Bryce. Things had become interesting for both parties concerned.
To be continued...
well part 2 in the can...hope you like my take on the Presidential campaign trail. As usual comments at email@example.com