When I announced my candidacy for the Congress, I could count my supporters on one hand: my loving wife, Suzanne, our baby daughter, my wonderful parents and my faithful dog Lucy. Today, I am blessed with a great campaign team and an army of grassroots volunteers making thousands of phone calls and knocking on hundreds of doors each week, not to mention the financial support of thousands of individuals who share my concern for our country's future.
It's a humbling thought for someone who, just over a year ago, was simply focused on running a small business, making payroll and providing healthcare for my employees. But as we enter the final 90 days of the campaign, the support we've garnered sends a clear message about what's important to the people of the Second District.
If there's one thing I know from growing up in northern Indiana, it's that Hoosiers are fiercely independent. We consistently place our values above politics and ideas above agendas, as evidenced by our tradition of electing great leaders -- Democrats and Republicans -- to be our voice on Capitol Hill.
I believe it's that spirit of independence that's at stake in this election, and many people seem to agree.
During the past year I listened to people from throughout the district, and their message was consistent: Washington is broken, Congress is dysfunctional at best, and divisiveness is the order of the day.
What's more, they're tired of it, and so am I. The people's business has taken a backseat not simply to partisan politics, but to the ultra-partisan politics of a Tea Party movement that has stymied everyone's best efforts to move the country forward.
We owe who we are today to the wisdom of our Founders, who held true to their own principles while skillfully working together to pull countless opposing viewpoints and special interests under one flag. The result was a nation that embraced individualism, cultivated opportunity and respected hard work without neglecting the common good.
That's the nation I grew up in, as a soldier I fought to defend, and as a father want my children to inherit. And that, frankly, is why I'm running.
I draw my motivation every day from the sacrifices made by the brave men and women serving our nation. As a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Iraq War, nothing inspires me more to fight for Hoosiers in Congress than the memories of my friends, my classmates, my soldiers and my colleagues who have paid the price for our freedom with their lives.
The seeds of my candidacy were sown in Arlington National Cemetery, where I stood alongside the wives and children of friends who died in service to their country. On one occasion, I remember looking out at the Capitol Building in the distance and feeling frustrated that the politics being played inside did little to honor what my friends died to protect. At that moment, I decided to continue my service to our country in Congress, where I will provide an independent voice for reason, if elected this fall.
The work ahead will be difficult, but it's pretty straightforward:
We must strive to protect and grow our middle class and small businesses. As a small-business owner myself, I understand the challenges businesses face today. And I will fight to ensure they have the best opportunity to grow and create the jobs we need to move our economy forward.
At the same time, we must make sure that Medicare and Social Security will continue to be a safety net for our seniors, whose hard work helped make our nation the greatest in the world.
And of course, we must do all of this while developing a workable approach to reducing the massive debt that threatens future generations.
As a Veteran, husband and father, traditional Hoosier values, like hard work, public service, faith and family, run deep. I will be a voice for the unborn and a strong advocate for our 2nd Amendment Rights.
All of this takes sacrifice, hard work and, above all, the ability to put common sense ahead of politics. In other words, it will take strong Hoosier values.
Hoosiers want an independent voice, not an ideologue. The Tea Party candidates for both Congress and the Senate have made clear their intention to continue the same pattern of divisiveness that defies both reason and common sense.
A congressional race is like a marathon: it stretches for months and even years, but it's the final two months that make or break a campaign. Now, with less than 90 days to go, take a look at your options. I'm confident that Second-District Hoosiers will choose reason over rage and cooperation over divisiveness.