Two years ago tonight, I said that the people of the Sixth Congressional District had spoken, but it would take some time to determine what they said.
This time, the people have spoken, and it’s clear what they said.
When we began this journey over four years ago, in September 2009, few gave us any chance of winning the nomination of our own party, let alone the general election.
When we came within 647 votes of actually achieving our goal, in November 2010, the naysayers said that our best chance had come and gone. And then, when a so-called “wide swath” of self-appointed experts and pundits were asked about this race last summer, they said our campaign was “a lost cause.”
Well, maybe at one time, they had a point. After all – particularly after redistricting – we faced an entrenched incumbent with a celebrated name in Kentucky, in a district with twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans.
But when they told us we couldn't win, we said, for the sake of our country, “We cannot afford to lose.”
And then we went to work – building a consensus of shared values that reaches across party lines and geographical divides, from the gently rolling fields of Anderson County to the steeply rising hillsides of Wolfe and Menifee.
Today, the real “wide swath” appeared. Democrats and Republicans. Coal miners and factory workers. Teachers and farmers. College students and seniors. People from different walks of life who united under our banner and committed their time, their resources and – most of all – their hearts to our cause. A cause much greater than my candidacy – a cause to save our country from bankruptcy and to restore the American Dream. A cause in which every hard working American can achieve success and reach their dreams through effort, persistence and an unshakeable belief in this country.
Tonight, I think about everyone who believed in us before our campaign really gathered steam, and I am humbled beyond measure.
First, I want to thank God for enabling me to run for this office. He is our sovereign Creator in heaven, the source of our inalienable rights, to whom all credit, honor, and glory truly belongs. Every day we’ve had an opportunity to meet the people of this district, and that has been an amazing blessing for me and my family.
And second, I want to thank my wife, Carol, whose incredible sacrifice made this candidacy possible.
I want to thank my staff: Pat Melton, my Campaign Manager; Jan DeWitt, my Finance Director; Andy Hightower, who has devoted time and energy to this campaign from the very beginning; David Host, my Communications Director; Eric Landis; Tim Lolli; Charles Badger; and Tatum Dale.
I want to thank our volunteers; so many of you. I want to thank Aaron Logan, from our campaign in 2010, who made it possible to get the momentum going; and Bob Barney, for making 20,000 phone calls!
And then, I think about the hard-working Kentuckians we met on the campaign trail. Decent, charitable, honorable men and women who simply want the chance to pass on to their children a better country and a more prosperous future. They have lives to lead and mouths to feed – but somehow, they found time to offer their support – through thoughts, prayer and action.
To truly represent everyone, however, we must also find the means to reach out and achieve common ground with our opponents.
I just received a very gracious phone call from Congressman Ben Chandler, in which he offered his congratulations. I thanked Congressman Chandler for his service to the people of this District and to this Commonwealth.
This has been an extremely tough and hard-fought race. It’s difficult to lose – and I know, I’ve been there – and so have my family and my supporters. We understand how much it hurts, and how hard it hits a family. And so notwithstanding our serious policy differences, I have never doubted Congressman Chandler's love for Kentucky. My heart and prayers go out to the Chandler family at this time. And I hope yours do, also.
The wounds take time to heal. But, for the sake of our Commonwealth and our nation, they must heal. And I will strive to do my part.
I asked Congressman Chandler for his help in laying the foundation for a smooth and seamless transition. He has agreed, and I appreciate his courtesy.
To his supporters and those who cast ballots for Congressman Chandler in this election, please accept my sincere thanks for participating in this important process of democracy. I readily acknowledge that there may be differences that separate us. Or perhaps we just don’t know each other yet.
I want you to know that while I have strong convictions and principled beliefs, I recognize I don’t always have all the answers. I invite you to begin a relationship with me, join with me and work with me as we endeavor to solve the great problems we face as a nation.
From the very beginning, this campaign has been for the sake of my little girl and Carol's little girl, Eleanor – and for the thousands upon thousands of children like her, whose future remains at risk. I simply could not stand by and watch the American Dream evaporate in a hazy mist of debt, leaving behind a desert of dependency and despair.
And so tonight, we look forward. The path won't be straight; nor will the journey always be smooth. But with your help, we will reach our destination – a place where the government of the people and for the people trusts the people.
A place where a young person who gets a good education can once again count on getting a good job.
And a place of confidence and optimism, where Americans once again believe they will pass a better country on to their children and grandchildren.
To get there, we need input from everyone. That's the message I wish to direct tonight to those who supported Congressman Chandler. Regardless of our differences on policy or politics, I want to represent you. I will be accessible to you, and I will care about your concerns.
I welcome tonight's results with humility and gratitude; with a deep love for America and an abiding confidence in her future. May God grant us the wisdom and skill to embrace the opportunity He has placed before us.
God bless each and every one of you, and God bless the United States of America.