Ithaca, N.Y. — Martha Robertson (D) has conceded to incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R) in the race for the 23rd Congressional district. She spoke before a crowd of about 300 at the Hotel Ithaca Tuesday night.
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Robertson entered the room to chants of “Martha! Martha!” and exchanged hugs with supporters who had parted to form a runway between her and the podium.
She fought off tears throughout her speech.
“Even though we didn’t win tonight, we will continue to fight for our values,” Robertson said.
The crowd broke out in cheers when Robertson announced her willingness to run again.
“I will be ready to step up to the plate again for the residents of the 23rd congressional district,” she said.
Irene Stein, chairperson of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee, said that she has “never met a candidate with as much energy, commitment and discipline as Martha Robertson has shown in this race.”
Robertson acknowledged her many supporters, including Nate Shinagawa, whom she thanked for showing her that “this was a fight worth making.”
“Running for office with all of you has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she said.
Robertson said she called Tom Reed and congratulated him on his victory.
See IthacaVoice.com for more event coverage.
Read the full speech below:
“Thank you all for coming together tonight.
This campaign has never been about one person; it’s never been about me. This campaign has been about you, and the values that we share, and about the people of this district. From Geneva to Jamestown, from Owego to Olean, from Dryden to Dunkirk, we share some basic beliefs about right and wrong.
We believe it’s only right that if you work full time, you should be able to put food on your table and keep a roof over your head; we believe that the seniors of today and tomorrow deserve to retire with dignity. We know we can build an economy that includes everyone. As a girl scout I learned that it is our responsibility to leave this place better than we found it – cleaner, safer, and fairer for all.
This campaign did not start a year and a half ago when I announced my candidacy. It didn’t even start when Tom Reed was first elected to Congress.
This campaign, this fight for our values, started when I was a little girl. I’m sure you have all heard my personal story, about where my passion for public service began. About how I grew up in the family small business, a little nursery and flower shop next to the house. How I learned the value of public service, pitching in alongside my brothers and sister.
This campaign started with our mother, who always taught us kids that when you saw something wrong in your community, you had an obligation, a duty, to stand up for what was right. She made that time to contribute. She made that time while running a small business and raising us, because it was the right thing to do.
And that’s why, a year and a half ago, I stepped up. But I didn’t do it alone; you all joined me, connecting with voters across the district, from the Finger Lakes, through the Southern Tier, to Western New York. You joined the campaign because we had to fight for the representation we deserve in Washington.
Tonight, I won’t dwell on Mr. Reed. He has a different vision, different priorities, and different values. In the spirit of bipartisanship and civility, I hope I am the first person to congratulate him on his victory tonight.
I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together. And you should be proud too. Running for office with all of you has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I am so humbled by each and every one of you, near and far across this district, who joined in this fight.
It takes courage to stand by your convictions, and I thank you for standing with me.
Even though we didn’t win tonight, we won’t stop fighting for our values. We must continue to fight for the teachers and their students, for steelworkers and electrical workers, for older Americans and for our youngest citizens, and for moms and dads just trying to pay the bills. We will continue to make sure their voices are heard, and I will be ready to step up to the plate again, for the residents of the 23rd Congressional District.
Again, thank you for all your support. Have a good night.