What happens after a savvy political operative launches himself into a major campaign, loses, and then thinks back on it? Here's a good answer, courtesy of former Senate candidate Steve Novick. (And the hat tip to Loaded Orygun.)
Novick's own analysis of his race, based around the development of his "brand" as a candidate, is well worth the read. He points out that "we lost, so apparently branding isn’t everything. But I think it’s fair to say that we did better than expected. As a first-time candidate running against the speaker of the State House, I was outspent by roughly 2-to-1, and lost 45 percent to 42 percent. Compared to other recent “progressive underdog vs. moneyed establishment candidate” Northwest races, that’s not bad. In 2000, Maria Cantwell outspent progressive underdog Deborah Senn in Washington’s Senate primary by about 2-to-1—and won the race by an even larger margin."
Money matters, he says - but points out too that it's not all that matters. Novick's campaign came a lot closer to a win than many people had expected when House Speaker Jeff Merkley (who did win) first entered - a good many had thought it a slam dunk. It wasn't, and the reasons why are a useful read.