(written by RMW and Stephanie DeLuca)
1 January 2019
I’m writing to thank you for your generous support for my congressional campaign, and to wish you a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2019.
My campaign was always a moonshot. When I was a kid growing up, the Apollo program at NASA was in its heyday. When President John F. Kennedy announced the Apollo program, he was met with scorn. “It’s impossible,” people said, “you can’t put a man on the moon.” But JFK thought differently. Paraphrasing his response, he said, “We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Trying to win this race was hard. It was a long journey - probably the longest one and a half years of my life. We always knew this was going to be an uphill battle. Running as a Democrat in Mississippi is unbelievably tough. There were a lot of unexpected barriers, twists, and turns that caught me off guard. But I learned a great deal from listening to and talking with people from across the district. I want you to know that this campaign was not run in vain. We did some amazing things.
We re-energized the Democratic party in counties that had no active party. We raised more money than any Democratic House candidate in a decade. We brought national and international attention to North Mississippi. And we laid the foundation for future candidates who want to see this state transformed for future generations.
It took ten Apollo missions before a man made it to the moon. All ten of those laid the groundwork for what was to come afterward. That’s what we did with this campaign: we helped build the future of North Mississippi. And all of you helped do that. We didn’t lose exactly; we just won in a different way.
I’ve been telling my team that for a while now. There are a couple reasons for the unprecedented energy and enthusiasm I saw all across the district. First of all, Mississippians are just as tired as I am of this state always being at the bottom of the list for anything that is good, and at the top of the list for anything that is bad. Our economy is lagging behind every other state, and while our unemployment rate is lower than it has been in a while, it’s still much higher than it should be, and wages are stagnant. Meanwhile, our lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid or do anything to help Mississippians get a leg up. They keep putting party and politics above people.
Second, the election of Donald Trump put this country on notice about taking our democracy for granted. When you have people in office who clearly care nothing for the people they represent, it’s hard to convince them to enact policies that are good for the country. And so this midterm election became an important one because Americans realized that they needed to make their voices heard.
All that is to say that, even though we didn’t win, we did what most people thought would be impossible. We ran a serious campaign, in which I proudly told people I’m a Democrat. We turned out a huge number of voters in a state that most people had declared a lost cause. All of that work is going to help Mississippi flip seats next year in the state elections. State-level elections are just as important as federal elections. We need everyone out there, making calls, knocking doors, and talking to loved ones. It all matters.
Just because the 2018 election didn’t turn out the way we wanted doesn’t mean that we can go back to business as usual. Our members of Congress work for us, and we need to hold them accountable. It’s not right that they just take their constituents for granted. We have to make our voices heard by writing to them, calling them, visiting their offices, and demanding that they hold town halls. There’s another federal election in two years. They should have to work for your vote.
After all, right after Apollo 10 came Apollo 11. The moon is still in reach. And for this state, there’s only the sky.
May 2019 be kind to you.