Last year, I had the privilege of working on Karen Diebel's Congressional campaign when she ran in the Republican primary for the District 24 seat. Karen's a strong social and fiscal conservative and I was thrilled to see her explore running for one of the new Congressional districts in 2012.
Karen's campaign was off to a solid start. She'd earned the endorsement of the Concerned Women for America and others who had backed her candidacy last year, and was building up a base of contributions.
The campaign was getting close to the time where it would be ready to get kicked into high gear. The Florida Legislature was working on the redistricting maps so Karen would know where her district would be, fundraising was going well, and she had launched an updated KarenDiebel.com website with the latest information about the campaign.
Running for elected office is a serious commitment, and one that Karen takes seriously. I spoke with her on the phone last night, and Karen told me that when she looked at her three sons and thought about how precious this time was while they were still young (they're 15, 13, and 12), she realized that her heart just was not in running for office this year.
Karen has made the decision to step aside for the 2012 election so she can focus on her family right now and, as she put it, "spend time with my three little guys." She asked me to help make her decision public so that other good conservatives who may be interested in running for the seat would be encouraged to throw their hats in the ring. The timing is helpful, with the initial maps just starting to be released, so potential candidates have some idea where the new district lines may be.
Freed from the demands of being a candidate herself now, Karen told me that she is looking forward to being able to help the reelection efforts for other Republican Congressional incumbents. "We have some great Republicans here in Central Florida representing us in Congress, and I wish them the best of luck in their reelection campaigns." Karen added that she views 2012 as a "crucial" election year, and that "sending a solidly conservative Congress to Washington needs to be a priority."
This past week, Karen has been contacting her supporters to thank them for encouraging her campaign. A fiscal conservative through-and-through, she spent very little of her contributions and will be refunding them pro rata. Here is the letter that Karen is sending to her contributors:
I am writing to thank you for both your friendship and confidence in my efforts to explore running for U.S. Congress in Florida’s new open seat in 2012.
Together, we built an incredible base earning “On The Radar” status with the National Republican Congressional Committee Young Guns program and strong endorsements from Conservative groups including Concerned Women For America.The decision to run for Congress is a deep personal commitment and sacrifice for the candidate and their family.While I remain committed to supporting our Conservative Republican leaders, I have decided I will not seek the Republican nomination in 2012. Time has presented opportunities to my family and I am focusing my support there and most importantly with my three young sons.I am returning your contribution less minor expenses and want to thank you for your support. The minimal expenses were used for direct Republican outreach and contacting constituents who also believed in bringing my problem-solving, business and financial skills to Washington D.C. We created a strong base in Central Florida and I will continue to be active in furthering our Conservative values.Your investment in my efforts is greatly appreciated and I am truly inspired by your strong trust and confidence in me. I look forward to being in touch and thank you again.Sincerely,Karen Diebel
While I am sad to have missed out on the chance to support Karen's campaign next year (and maybe even vote for her, depending on where the district lines fall), I respect her decision and applaud the classy way that she has handled the process. All too often it seems that people running for office put their own egos ahead of their family, friends, and the overall conservative cause. By stepping aside now, Karen clears the path for a new candidate to enter the race with enough time to organize a solid campaign.
I'm proud to know Karen Diebel, even prouder to call her my friend, and look forward to supporting her in some future race.