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From Don on Election Night

Thank you, citizens of Virginia’s 8th District, for showing up and voting today. Thank you, Governor, for honoring us with your presence! And thank you, President Obama, for having lunch today in Delray!

Tonight is the culmination of the hard work, the heartfelt values, and the shared ideas of many, many, many good people. I am honored and humbled to be your standard bearer.

I have loved this campaign. The volunteers. The staff. All the thoughtful, challenging voters.

But what I have liked best has been the opportunity to talk with great optimism about the way forward.

The last few weeks, I have taken to quoting St Augustine of Hippo, who said, Hope has two beautiful daughters, Anger and Courage. Anger about the way things are. And Courage to change them.

There is reason to be angry. We have enormous, frightening, existential challenges facing us in the world today. Climate change, income and wealth inequality, one quarter of America’s children living in poverty, 30,000 gun deaths in the US last year, relentless efforts to take away women’s reproductive rights, federal employees who bear the brunt of a dysfunctional Congress, there is so much suffering that we must take responsibility for addressing.

But the good news is that we CAN lead. I read once that all life asks of us is that we live it with courage.

Courage to cut carbon emissions by 30%, 40%, 50%, whatever our planet demands.

Courage to create a New American Economy, and put all Americans back to work, in higher paying jobs, with more entrepreneurs, with Equal Pay for all.

Courage to give every child in America, low income or without papers, the early childhood education necessary for them to thrive all their lives.

Courage to take on the NRA and the gun lobbies to demand the most common-sense gun safety laws.

Courage to defend women’s right to choose – and to proclaim that our American birthright of liberty includes the freedom to love and marry whoever we want.

And the Courage to heal the broken relationships of good people, from both parties, for a more effective Congress.

I have been privileged to be a candidate, to be a strong voice. But also privileged with an abundance of smart, talented, Democratic friends and fellow contestants.

Thank you, Senator Adam Ebbin, for making the powerful argument that the US House needs an effective Congressman. I know you will continue to build on your long list of accomplishments in Richmond.

Thank you, Mayor Bill Euille, for over 40 years of local government leadership.  No one has the insight into Metro, the Council of Governments, the school boards, the planning commissions, and more that you do.

Thank you, Lavern Chatman, for your lifetime of community organizing.

Thank you, Mark Levine, for your passionate Aggressive Progressive voice. You have the unique ability to make big ideas simple and powerful.

Thank you, Professor Derek Hyra, for reminding us that urban planning must always be at the heart of 8th District leadership.

And thank you, Patrick Hope, for trying to be that champion for the most powerless among us.

Now we turn our attention to November. America was born on a farm in Virginia. We must carry the Virginia ideals of integrity, community, progress, and compassion forward to all voters in this Northern Virginia. Some folks will talk about favorable voter demographics, but do not trust the conventional wisdom. We have lots of work still to do.

To butcher Churchill, never has so humble a man owed so much to so many. Thank you to my brilliant and adorable wife, Megan, the sine qua non of my life. Thank you to my family – my kids and grandkids who were so patient and supportive – and to my brother and sister, who keep the family business rolling forward with only my intermittent contribution.

Thank you to Jim Moran – for 24 bold and accomplished years of service; for your passion and compassion; for your brave, lonely votes against DOMA and against the war; for your long friendship and inspiration; and most of all, for deciding to retire from Congress!

Thank you to my exceptional staff. I have worked on eighteen campaigns in a leadership role, hundreds more in lesser roles. I have never worked with a team as professional, tireless, intelligent, faithful, and just plain fun as our campaign staff. Gabrielle Greenfield, campaign manager. Ann O’Hanlon, campaign chairman. I love them all, and I am so proud of them. And I predict with great confidence that they will be world-changers in the years to come.

Thank you to my treasurer, Mary Margaret Whipple, whose name is on everything we ever printed. Thank you to our Kitchen Cabinet, and to my incredible consultants. No one was ever better served in strategy and tactics.

More than 368 different people volunteered on our campaign, in less than 16 weeks. 164,000 telephone calls and doors knocked upon.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, 164,000 times.

Almost 1,700 individual investors in our race, generosity beyond my imagination. My heartfelt gratitude for all you give away.

Finally, thank you to the Primary voters of June 10, 2014, no matter who you voted for.  You are engaged Americans, with a true sense of duty.

I love politics because it is the most human of endeavors. We are trying to understand where each other struggles and hurts. We are trying to listen carefully to all the stories. We are trying to discover ways to make things better. We are trying to find those qualities, lost somewhere in each of us, that make us our brothers and sisters’ keepers.

Thank you for coming tonight and now let’s celebrate!