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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Richard Becker and the political bug that bit him

The Recovering Politician:

 Richard Becker – How I Got Bit by the Political Bug

I first entered politics in 2004 at the age of 17, going door-to-door in my home county of Hamilton County, Indiana for Gov. Joe Kernan and the Kerry-Edwards campaign.  I can recall meeting with an organizer at a coffeeshop with a high school friend of mine and being handed a packet of names, a bundle of brochures, and a Joe Kernan for Governor lapel sticker.  Out we went, knocking on door after door in the neighborhoods of Noblesville, the county courthouse’s majestic clock tower looming in the background.  Having finally exhausted our packets after several hours, we returned to Democratic headquarters where we were greeted by a bevy of seasoned local Democratic activists (read: cute, earnest, little old ladies).

What ensued was a full twenty minutes of gushing and doting that centered on one theme: how preciousof you two to be volunteering for a political campaign when you can’t even vote yourselves!  They were enamored with us, and we with the compliments.  That was the day I decided that an activity that felt this good had to be something I pursued in some more substantive way moving forward, which brings us to the University of Kentucky.

In my first semester as a college freshman, I attended a campus event at which student organizations could promote themselves and happened upon the table for the UK College Democrats.  Intrigued, I got to talking to several of their members and agreed to attend their first meeting, which, like any well-planned first semester meeting featured free pizza and soda.  I became a regular at these meetings over the coming weeks and when a position opened up at the end of the semester for the chapter treasurer, I was nominated and unanimously elected to the position.  I served as the treasurer for some three months before our president announced she would not be running.  All heads in the room turned to me and I was once again nominated and unanimously elected president of the chapter, the youngest such president in chapter history.  While I was president of the UK chapter, we volunteered for John Yarmuth’s winning 2006 congressional campaign as well as for the campaign of Ken Lucas in northern Kentucky’s 4th district.  It was while working on the latter campaign that I first met a man who would come to play a pivotal role in my development as a professional political staffer.  
His name was Jon Wright, from Paducah, KY and he was a recent law school graduate.  I spoke with him on the phone several times leading up to the weekend when about two dozen of our UK members rode with me up to the 4th district to volunteer.  Seeing him in person, I realized that Jon was truly a ball of energy, bouncing from person to person, task to task, stopping only long enough to answer a phone or check a call script before resuming his frenzied pace.  We kept in touch over the years, which was a good thing, because it would be a call from him in June of 2008 that would change the path of my career forever.

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