|Updated: 11/07/2012 11:06 am
||Published: 11/06/2012 9:39 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Republican Tom Cotton has won the 4th Congressional District seat in Arkansas after defeating Democrat Gene Jeffress.
The former management consultant and Army veteran won the seat in Tuesday's election and succeeds retiring Democratic Congressman Mike Ross. The southern Arkansas seat was the only Democrat-held U.S. House seat in Arkansas after recent Republican gains.
Cotton was favored against Jeffress, a state senator from Louann who had struggled with fundraising and organization. Cotton racked up endorsements from top Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona. He also had the backing of conservative groups such as the Club for Growth.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Full Text of Tom Cotton's General Election Speech
Thanks to all of you, we’ve won a big victory tonight!
It’s a victory we all hoped for—but maybe larger than we expected. Many other races across the country have yet to be decided. But here in Arkansas, tonight, we’ve shown that the spirit of 1776—the spirit of liberty—is alive and well in 2012.
This campaign, from the beginning, has been about something more than what the government spends or how much we pay in taxes, as important as those things are. Our campaign has been about the future of self-government in America. About returning our government to its constitutional roots; reasserting our natural, God-given rights; and reviving our free-enterprise system.
As I did before in the U.S. Army, tonight I give you my solemn oath that I will support and defend our Constitution and the spirit of our beloved Republic.
That oath is a privilege. It brings to mind the debt of gratitude we owe to those who came before us, and that I in particular owe to so many in this room. To all of you for your hard work. To my campaign team, who had as much political experience as I did when we started—none. To my mom and dad, for their love and guidance. As I grew up on our small farm in Yell County, they always did what was right for Sarah and me, not necessarily what was alright with us. And to Sarah, for her support and friendship.
Finally, I’m grateful above all to the people of Arkansas, who have done me a great honor and given me a great trust. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my very best for all my fellow citizens. This district is used to sending Democrats to Washington. Now we’re sending a Republican. But just as sure as Grant County is named for one soldier who went to Washington as a Republican, you can be sure I’ll serve every citizen of every party equally and fairly.
Our fellow citizens went to the polls today for the 113th time under our Constitution. This simple but majestic act brings home the founding truth of our republic: we’re all equal in God’s eyes and thus should be under law. In too many places around the world, that’s still not the case. But in America, it doesn’t matter who your parents are or who their parents were, or where you come from, or what you do. All that matters is your loyalty to that great principle, and you’re an American at heart. You can find opportunity here to fulfill your dreams and build a better life, for yourself and your family.
But too often politicians in both parties have lost faith in the American way. They’ve misused the power of government to aid the politically connected and the privileged, to raise up artificial distinctions among citizens where none should exist, to grant preferences and favors to flawed ideas, because in trying to pick winners, politicians almost always pick losers. The best ideas don’t need government aid to succeed in a free economy. And we’re left with the bill: less opportunity, less prosperity, and less liberty.
But more important, the next generation, who are as much a part of America as we are, as our forefathers are, will be left with the bill. There’s no justice in that. Abe Lincoln explained long ago, it’s the same struggle of right and wrong we’ve seen since the beginning of time, “the same old serpent that says you work and I eat.”
Let us today rededicate ourselves to the spirit of our Constitution: to secure the blessings of liberty not only for ourselves, but also and especially for our posterity. Eleven generations of Americans have done it for us; we owe them and the next generation of citizens nothing less.
I’m mindful tonight that we would have nothing to pass on to the next generation without the courage and sacrifice of the men and women of our Armed Forces. They stand guard tonight in Afghanistan and all around the world—just as they have since Lexington and Concord. From the Minutemen who defeated the mightiest empire in the world, to the volunteers who held the Union together so their heirs—like my dad and his dad—would be able to save humanity from Nazi and Soviet tyranny, to the 9/11 generation today, our soldiers have always stood ready to lay down their lives so others may live. We owe them all a debt of gratitude too big to ever repay.
But we can begin to repay them by living up to their example in Washington. Shortly after I began this campaign, an elderly lady came up and asked me, “You were in the Army, right?” I said, “Yes, ma’am.” She said, “Now you want to be in Congress?” I said, “Yes, ma’am, I do.” And she said, “Why would you want to leave the country’s most respected institution for the country’s least respected institution?”
Lately, it’s a sad fact that our political institutions have lost respect among our citizens. Our troops, on the other hand, are respected not just for what they do—fight and win our country’s wars—but for who they are, for the character they display. If our political leaders demonstrated some of the same virtues—like duty, integrity, and courage—our political institutions will regain that lost respect.
As it is, one of the most common questions I got asked on the campaign trail was, “Will Washington change you?” I don’t think they meant it in a good way—maybe “change” has developed a bad taste after four years of Barack Obama. Washington too often does change those we send there, and not in a way that General Washington would have approved.
Seven years ago today, I reported to the U.S. Army’s Ranger School. Every day we recited the Ranger Creed, as a reminder of the high standards set for us. I remember those lessons very well. I will take those lessons to Washington in hopes of changing it, not to be changed by it: I volunteered fully knowing the hazards. My country expects more of me. I will shoulder more than my share of the task. I will set the example for others to follow. I will fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.
And what is our mission today? As every soldier knows, it’s to pass on what we’ve been given in better shape than we found it. What we’ve been given is a country that has brought more prosperity and more liberty to more people than any in history. That country was born in the sacrifices of our founders, who knew that government should be limited, that it should treat citizens as equals, and that it must protect a private sphere of economic freedom and religious liberty. Those principles will guide me in Congress and they will restore America’s greatness.
No doubt, we’ve had our challenges recently and I can’t promise we’ll overcome them in the next year or even the next Congress, because they’ve been building for decades. Nor can I promise that you’ll always agree with my votes, because I owe each of you my conscience, my judgment, my unbiased opinion. But I do promise that together we can complete the mission, we can overcome our challenges, we can build a brighter future, and we can pass on a legacy of liberty greater still than the one we inherited.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.