Dear Voters of Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District:
Let me start by simply saying: thank you.
Thank you for allowing me into your communities and your homes. Thank you for spending a little time learning about who I am and why I decided to become a first-time candidate for public office. And thank you for the chance to listen to you and your concerns and ideas for our future.
There is a lot at stake in this year’s midterm elections. Some of it is about the issues that we wrestle with, but an increasing amount is how we come to grips with the overheated rhetoric that has dominated our political conversation and badly divides us as a nation.
When I decided to retire from the Marines last June after 20 years, move back to Kentucky, and run for Congress, many people warned me about the world I was entering. Things like honesty and integrity are at the heart of everything we did as Marines, but these traits don’t seem to mean much in today’s politics. Politicians have lost their courage to better the institutions that govern us because it’s easier, politically, to demonize the concept of government itself — or to demonize their opponent.
I did not run a single attack ad in this campaign. I chose not to play that game.
Recently, it was reported that this race has one of the most lopsided ratios of negative-to-positive ads in the nation — with more than 20 dishonest and mean-spirited attack ads launched against me. They take my words, repackage them with a different meaning, and then cowardly hide behind their scary music and dark imagery with an ominous narrator repeating their fictions over and over again.
On issue after issue they attacked: from “open borders” (I served three tours as a combat Marine protecting my country from those who would try to harm us, so, of course, I’m not for open borders) to “abortion” (I am pro-choice, but I’m also Catholic, have three small children, am firmly opposed to late-term abortions. I also oppose criminalizing a woman’s constitutional right to choose) to “socialized medicine” (I am for fixing and improving the Affordable Care Act and opposed to a socialized single-payer system). Many told me that we had to return fire with fire, or else people would just believe the lies. But that approach is precisely why we are in this mess. Instead, there are two reasons why I have chosen to stick to a campaign that is entirely focused on my values and the issues, and not simply attack back.
First, I fully trust you — the voters — to see through this sad, worn-out tactic that has us reaching for the mute button on our remote control at every commercial break.
But, second, we desperately need to change our politics in this country — the country I love, the country WE love, the country that I and so many others fought for.
The incivility. The lies. The fake news. It needs to stop. This isn’t who we are as a country. Now we have to deal with lunatics who mail pipe bombs and leaders who would rather blame the media, or the other side, than acknowledge what is happening. And it won’t stop until we have candidates who refuse to blindly follow the dictates of their party leaders.
I got into politics not because it was a childhood dream — I was fortunate enough to have accomplished those by flying fighter jets and landing on aircraft carriers. Instead, I entered this world because I believe our country deserves better leaders than we have — leaders who have the courage to tell the truth and not simply play to people’s fears and continually lie about the other side.
We badly need members of Congress who thoughtfully weigh the problems our nation faces and are eager to work with anyone — no matter their party — to try to fix them.
I don’t think the Democratic Party has all the answers. Both sides need to learn to work together again. I even have some practical experience on that issue too — my husband, Erik, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran, is also a lifelong Republican. We’ve managed to make our marriage work just fine, despite our occasional kitchen table differences on the issues. I was even a registered Independent for a while. For us, we are not a Democrat or Republican first — we are Americans first.
Today, the halls of Congress are filled with too many who don’t have the courage to stand up to special interests, or their big donors, or their political party, or even a president when he’s wrong on the issues — like these disastrous tariffs that are really hurting our farmers, our bourbon industry, and the largest Toyota plant in the world, which is right here in our district.
If I’m elected, I will never forget who I work for. Ever. It’s you, the people of the Sixth District. When I was a Marine, my oath was to our Constitution — not to a president or a political party. That’s the same attitude I will bring to Congress.
I hope I can count on your support on November 6. I learned at the Naval Academy that leaders demonstrate honor and integrity, and I will never forget that the American people paid for my education in exchange for my service. I’m determined to show you that your investment in me was worth it.