Heidi Heitkamp

Concession Speech - Nov. 6, 2018

Heidi Heitkamp
November 06, 2018
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Thank you, all of you. What a night, huh? Let me tell you first off how incredibly proud I am of the team that we put on the field. All our Dem-NPL candidates and the wonderful legislative candidates I that met. We offered an alternative. In many cases we are hopeful that that alternative will be picked.

In my case it is not. In my case, it’s time to come back home to North Dakota, continue our work for the state of North Dakota, and continue our work for the people. That’s really what this has always been about.

First, I want to thank my family. You don’t get into these races without a great, great support group, an incredible support group. After we’re done, I want all my family to come up and wave one last goodbye and say thank you to these incredible volunteers and the incredible people we have here. I am so proud of my family, so proud of the contributions they make every day to the people of North Dakota and the work they do. They really are incredible.

The second group I want to thank is this incredible campaign staff. We knew when we started out this was a big headwind. It’s interesting when people say, well, so and so is going to have a tough time because they were in a plus eight districts, I said, I am in a plus 36 district. We knew it was going to be a tough headwind. And we knew we took some votes that a lot of people would criticize.

When I left public life in 2000, I told myself that I didn’t take every opportunity every time to do the right thing, to do the thing I thought was the best thing. I a lot of times did the thing that was the easy thing or the thing that I was afraid I would be criticized for.

Most of you know I had a health scare. After that health scare, I decided you only have one chance in life and you have to make decisions that you think are the best decisions for the people, the best decisions for the future, and most importantly, the best decisions for our children.

So I went to Washington, D.C. not to rubberstamp any political party, not to take an easy, easy decision. I went to Washington, D.C. to represent the people of North Dakota the best way I could, and I think that’s what we did.

I also want to thank Libby Schneider in particular, who did a wonderful job. Give a wave, Libby. I won’t make you come up. She has been a great team leader. She has run an incredible race, a race that had incredible headwinds to begin with, and we knew that. And so just enormously proud of the team she put together.

I cannot tell you, driving around North Dakota and speaking with people, how incredibly important it was they represent me on the ground the way I wanted to be represented. I think they were enormously energetic and enthusiastic and so just grateful, so grateful for the welcoming they were given by North Dakotans in every corner of the state.

Second, I want to thank my incredible legislative staff and my incredible congressional staff. They will go on to big and better things. They have learned a lot. I think they have learned a lot about North Dakota. I think they have learned a lot about our incredible people. I think they have been really honored to serve the people of North Dakota in the way that they’ve served the people of North Dakota, whether it is getting veterans their benefits or whether it is looking at Social Security and making sure people were entitled to their benefits in Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.

I will tell you, they are an incredible group of people and an incredibly talented people. I hope that many of them, especially the North Dakotans, will return and will dig deeper and find a path forward to political leadership because they really deserve that, and the people of North Dakota really deserve their political leadership. They are incredible. I will tell you that – just absolutely incredible and have served this state so well.

Well, finally, I want to thank my husband, who has been with me for a lot of years and puts up with me on a regular basis and has for an introvert, married a wife who has a pretty extroverted career. That has been really tough.

For me, this has been the honor of a lifetime, serving as North Dakota’s senator. I have met so many great and good people. I have fought for these people and for my state in a way that I hope makes all of you proud, but most importantly, makes the state of North Dakota proud.

And so elections are won and lost, trends come and go, and the world revolves again tomorrow. What I want to leave you with is, for so many of the young people who got engaged, it seems like such a bitter thing to lose a race. But the worst thing would be to not ever run at all, to not every try. To simply say that this is too hard, or the state is too red. There is always an excuse down the line to not try.

What I like to believe in this race, regardless of the outcome, that because we put the protections of pre-existing conditions on the table, they will never take away your pre-existing conditions. And because we exposed, I think, a plan to reduce the Social Security and Medicare, they had to say, we would never do that, that they will live up to the promise and never do that.

Finally, we took a thumping in the rural areas, and I understand that, but I do want to sound a warning, and it’s the warning I have been sounding all along. Times are tough on the farm, ladies and gentlemen. When times are tough on the farm, they eventually become tough in our country. What I would tell you is that we have to have a policy that works for the farmers of our state. That may not always be following one political party. It may not always be making sure that you are supporting a political idea as opposed to the right idea. I certainly hope that the President in particular will not take this defeat as an example of why his tariff policy is a good idea. It is wrong for North Dakota. It is wrong for North Dakota.

So we live to fight on and sometimes the older generation takes an exit. We have had an incredible experience here in North Dakota. I have been so proud to represent the state and I am so gratified for those six years of opportunity that I had to do the work of the people. I’d so glad for the six years of opportunity I have had to tell the people that there is a different path.

I also remember all the times that we touched human lives, whether it was handing out a medal, whether it was giving a benefit, whether it was taking the worry away from a family member who was worried about pre-existing conditions or their Medicaid. That was really important work. Because of that, there are a lot of people who are better off today. I am enormously proud of that as your United States senator.

I want you to remember, we may have lost an election, but we have not lost our enthusiasm for the state of North Dakota. We have not lost our enthusiasm for the future of our state. We have not lost our enthusiasm for political activism and for presenting a different point of view. That’s incredibly important in this democracy.

There will come a time when someone will stand on this podium representing this political party and declare victory as the next governor, declare victory as the next United States senator, declare victory as the next attorney general.

We will not give up. We will not give up. We will not give up. We will not give up. We will not give up. We will not give up.

I love you all. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America and this great state.