Nothing causes one to look inside oneself the way running for public office does, Stephanie Philips told a group the Grayson County Democratic Women Thursday. Philips wants voters to change the way that they support first time candidates in races where other party candidates have run unopposed by the other side for decades.

Philips was the presenter at the annual meeting for the women’s group.

“This is a devastating thing to do to your life,” she said. “It changes your life in ways you can not imagine.”

Philips, who ran for the the seat in the Texas HD73 which covers Fredericksburg and New Braunfels, has since interviewed a number of those candidates who didn’t win their seats, but who made enormous strides nonetheless. Those interviews led her to see trends in what the candidates needed but didn’t get from the local parties as well as the state and national party.

She talked about her 2017 launch of an online community called Team Blue for Texas for house candidates. The private group allowed them to help each other out with problems they faced running in areas where it had been, in some cases, decades since a Democrat had sought their office.

Philips said she is relaunching Team Blue for Texas so that she and other candidates, some who will be running again and some who won’t, can help those who will run in the upcoming election have an easier time of it.

“What I would love is for us to have ways for this to be less damaging and less isolating on the people who do it,” she said.

She said a lot of people stepped up in the last election but they did so in places where the state and, in some cases county, parties didn’t expect them to win. For that reason, she said, they were often left to go it all alone without any help. They lacked help, she said, on the most basic things like how to complete the paperwork required to file their financial notices. They also were left without any expertise on how to safely and effectively form block walking groups and other key campaign strategies.

Luckily, she said, they were able to lift each other up and inspire each other, and now they want to offer their expertise of having been there to those who want to run in the future.

She also said that often the county chairs were new to the offices as well and they didn’t know what to tell candidates to do. So they would get together online and discuss how to complete the paperwork and how they were organizing their campaigns and discuss what was and what was not working.

“We didn’t have a campaign manager or a treasurer who knew what they were doing,” she reminded those who attended the meeting.

Even those who went to the different trainings that were offered around the state found that the information didn’t apply to to them because it was pointed at bigger campaigns that were going to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. She said she knew her race wasn’t going to come close to that and so she needed information on how to be effective with much much less money and with no staff.

“What I finally realized is that it’s nobody’s job to help,” she said in districts where they weren’t expected to win because there was no money to made off of those campaigns.

She said in addition to information on how to form campaigns and fill out the needed paperwork, the party needs to offer information on how to have conversations with people on divisive topics like abortion and immigration.