Running as the Republican nominee for United State Senate was the honor of a lifetime. While we weren’t ultimately successful, the lessons I learned on the trail in New Hampshire will stay with me forever.

From Hampton to Keene to Conway, people matter in politics. I decided early to focus on grassroots engagement; in other words, to campaign the New Hampshire way.

Traditional town hall meetings were at the core of our campaign – we held 85 in total. They were time-consuming, grueling, enlightening, and inspiring.  I faced questions from supporters, antagonists, and even Democrat activists paid for by my opponents.

These town halls provided a chance for voters to voice their frustrations and opinions, and to ask me whatever was on their minds. Sometimes my answers landed me in trouble, part of opening yourself up to the voters.  Attendees included people who loved me, people who would never consider voting for me, and people who just happened to stop by.  A true cross-section of Granite Staters.

Our style caught the attention of just about everyone, and it became the clear difference between me and my opponent. Politics aside, my largest issue with Sen. Hassan was her refusal

to host public engagements, opting instead to focus her efforts on private fundraising events. Without accessibility and accountability, you can never truly serve.

This race also pushed into focus the fact politics isn’t played on a level playing field.  It’s fueled by money and plagued by greed. New Hampshire has the latest primary in the nation, often called the incumbent protection primary.  It allows incumbent politicians a huge money advantage heading into the general election.

After the primary election, our campaign was out of money.  But Senator Hassan and her dark money allies, sitting on mountains of special interest cash, spent tens of millions on television ads, spreading blatant lies about me. It didn’t matter how many town hall meetings I held; my in-person message was drowned out by Senator Hassan’s false ads.  The primary date ought to be moved to earlier in the year.  It’s past time to do this.

Lobbyists and special interests are part of the problem and need to be pushed out of politics.  My opponent accepted the second-highest dollar amount from corporate lobbyists of any politician in Washington.  It’s up to us to hold both political parties accountable, and I look forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you to do just that.

As a concerned American, I know how frustrating it can be to feel isolated from the political process. And I know good public servants must be present and held accountable by their constituents. I developed a mantra for the kind of public servant I wanted to be – any time, any place.

I learned our style of campaigning is what people are so desperately searching for – a connection to their government and an opportunity to shape the policies of our communities and our nation. Please keep up the fight, we can’t have candidates phoning it in and taking you for granted if they want to represent us in Concord or Washington.

We were proud of the campaign we ran — and even though we came up short, we did it with integrity and honor.  Thank you, New Hampshire, for welcoming me into your communities, for sharing your stories, and for caring so deeply about the direction of our country and for the kindness you always showed to me and Sharon on the trail.  God bless you and your family, God bless America, and “Live Free or Die!”