For more than a year, I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of Western New Yorkers who represent the best of our community as I have campaigned for the 26th Congressional district. This campaign has been invigorating, encouraging, at times ugly, but always worthwhile. It has always been a great honor to listen to so many hard-working and dedicated Western New Yorkers as they tell me their stories.
Running for Congress is never something I expected to do, but when I returned to Western New York after serving nearly 15 months in Iraq, I was disheartened and frustrated.
I saw a Congressman who claimed to be one of the most powerful men in Washington stand by and watch our manufacturing jobs leave and plants close while my fellow soldiers in Iraq lacked the necessary body armor and equipment. I looked toward Washington and wondered what happened to the greatest generation of leadership that mobilized our nation.
I quickly learned that few people in Washington were interested in real solutions and that was unacceptable.
The America you and I grew up believing in and the America I went to war for had lost its voice in Washington. The America we believe in would not have sent my fellow soldiers and me to war without a plan or the proper equipment, the America we believe in would not allow gas to reach $4 a gallon without a path to secure our energy independence, the America we believe in would not let our best and brightest leave Western New York because of a lack of opportunity.
So my family and I decided to run for Congress to change that, and built a grassroots campaign that is based on the voices of our friends and neighbors. We started this year holding 30 house parties in 30 days and spent last week visiting all 7 counties in 7 days. Anyone from Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming or Livingston Counties will tell you that they see me more than anyone else asking for their vote.
We have hosted roundtables talking with teachers about education, farmers about agriculture, small business owners about the rising cost of health care and students about the rising costs of education.
Our conversation earned us the endorsements of every single county party, the working men and women represented by organized labor and turned enough heads on the national stage that the National Democratic Party endorsed our race placing us in their Red to Blue program. So did Senator John Kerry, former Senator Bob Kerrey, Generals Wesley Clark and Paul Eaton, along with the only other Iraq veteran in Congress, Rep. Patrick Murphy.
But our support does not stop there; the Netroots community has been pivotal. You allow America to have a conversation about the issues even when the media is not interested, and your financial support helps our campaign compete against millionaires.
I know that together we can build a foundation for good paying jobs here in Western New York keeping our best and brightest in the area. Together we can bring our troops home safely, securely and soon, and we can secure our energy independence.
Your help in the online community helped us expand our conversation with voters and kept issues at the center of your discussions. For your support -- to everyone who helped spread the word, chipped in financially, or patted me on the back at Netroots Nation -- I thank you.
For those of you in the 26th Congressional District, I ask for your vote tomorrow. We have come a long way and there is much that can be done.
If you believe that together we have the power to change Washington, this campaign is about you.