Republican Rob Cornilles delivered the following remarks after conceding the 1st Congressional District's special election to Democrat Suzanne Bonamici.
I'm living proof that anyone can run for Congress. But to run a respected, well-fought campaign, you have to have the best staff and volunteers possible. And I do!
Yes, in case you're wondering, I'm disappointed. I was hopeful going in that we'd be able to reason with the voters and show them a better way to create jobs in this state and our country.
Along the way, perhaps the biggest disappointment is that those who opposed me found it necessary to try and undo all the good that small businesses like mine accomplish in our state.
My wife and I have employed 60 people, and helped hundreds more launch profitable careers around the country. We've welcomed discouraged job-seekers into our door, and after a little bit of time training them and introducing them to industry, we've seen them leave with the joy and self-worth a new job brings.
But voters got a different story about the work that I do, and that's unfortunate. Not just for me, but for all small businesses who are doing the very thing we need more of in this state: taking risks, investing, and giving people a better future.
Do people like me in small businesses make honest mistakes? Of course we do.
Regardless, since small businesses employ 70% of our country's workforce, we need to do more to help them be successful so they can start hiring again. That means simplifying the tax code, getting rid of unreasonable regulations and government mandates. If we don't, we'll continue to see unemployment numbers that leave Americans without hope and our kids with fewer opportunities.
Another matter that must be addressed: Divisive language wasn't limited to just the topic of my well-regarded business. Over the course of this campaign, those who adamantly opposed me tried to paint me as someone who does not stand up for or support women. In my personal life, in my professional life, in the charities I choose to volunteer for, in the people I have hired over the years, I have always stood up for women, and particularly women who have fallen on hard times. Anyone who convinced you otherwise has misled you.
Now, perhaps most importantly, if you'll allow me, I'd like to turn my attention to those whose future we should be most concerned about. I'd like to talk to the kids watching tonight.
A lot of people - old and young - say they don't like politics. They think it's just a bunch of adults yelling at each other and trying to make the other person look bad. Whether it's right or wrong, adults do get pretty excited when they feel deeply about something or when they think someone else's opinion is wrong or hurtful to the rest of us.
Someday, maybe you'll feel strongly enough about something that you'll do all you can - perhaps as a candidate or a volunteer - to make sure others either do something -- or don't do something -- to make your town or state or country better.
That's what I did. I never thought I'd run for the US Congress. But when I decided that others weren't acting responsibly or were just behaving badly, my wife and I decided to leave the activities of our business and our private life and spend our time persuading others that there is a better way.
So, young people, you need to know this: Though I lost an election tonight, I'm still committed to doing all I can to convince adults that we need to make you our first priority.
Imagine how it'd feel if you went to a restaurant with all your relatives and when it's time to go home, your grandparents and aunts and uncles and mom and dad told the waiter that YOU were going to pay the bill - and simply said to you, "We'll be out in the car." That's what will happen in real life if we grown-ups don't start making some tough decisions.
That's why I decided to run for Congress. That's why politics is important. Whether or not you want to keep away from politics, politics will not stay away from you.
So, young people, I encourage you to be aware; follow what's happening; and ask a lot of questions. We adults have to work together to fix this fix we're in. And though you can't vote for the people in Congress, I hope they'll be voting for you!
When I was young growing up in Tigard and Newberg, I was inspired by the examples of two great Oregon Republicans, Mark Hatfield and Vic Atiyeh. While we lost Sen. Hatfield last year, I'm honored to call Gov. Atiyeh a "close friend and mentor." He couldn't be with us tonight, but I know he's home watching.
While I may never be in their class, I can still do my best to emulate their examples of compassion, creativity, and courage. Young people, find someone you admire, watch them, and do your best to act as they act.
In closing, I hope our new congresswoman will represent this entire district. If her experience was like mine, this campaign taught her that Oregonians are tired of the games in Washington; tired of the tone deafness to our problems; and fed up with broken promises, or a Congress that continues to make promises they can't keep.
For those who voted for me, thank you for taking a chance on a small business owner from Tualatin.
And now that this campaign is over, I hope we'll put aside the term "opponent" and see each other as neighbors, fellow Oregonians, and partners in trying to do our best for our state, ourselves, and our children. If we don't abide by this uniquely American principle, how can we ever expect our elected leaders to?
Thank you! God bless each of you, and may God continue to bless our United States of America.