Priorities for a Proud New Congressman

"I am so proud to stand before all of you and the entire 17th Congressional District tonight.

"I am deeply honored to accept this great district's vote of confidence.

"And I am ready to go to work as your next Congressman.

"This victory belongs to all of you.  You worked for it.

"You made sacrifices.  You believed in this great campaign.  You earned it.

"And, starting in January, I will be in Congress working every day to continue earning your support.  I will work to represent the values and achieve the goals of this great district.

"I am going to Congress to work for all of you.  To the folks in that town, I'll be known as the Congressman from Illinois 17.

"But to all of you, I still want to be known as Phil.

"I take this new job and all of its responsibility very seriously.  But I am still, and will always be, your neighbor, your friend, and your partner as we work to create a better America and a better future for this district.

"We ran this race together for all the right reasons.  We knew the stakes were high.  And, together, we made a decision that it was important for this district to elect a representative who will go to work every day and fight for those whose voice is not always heard, for those who are struggling to make ends meet, and for those who want to see this country move in a new direction.

"We ran this race because we believe that health care is a right, not a privilege.  We believe that no American should have to choose between their health and their home.  I am going to make affordable healthcare for all a top priority.

"I'll work to fix the Medicare Part D drug plan so that Medicare negotiates for lower-cost drugs, just like the VA does.  We'll eliminate the donut hole.  Our seniors deserve better and a Democratic Congress will deliver better results for our seniors.

"We ran this race because we want a new direction in Iraq.  And working under new leadership, I'll fight to get our troops the resources they need, to push a plan for victory, and to get our brave men and women home safe as soon as possible.

"We ran this race because we want this nation to live up to the promise we made to our Veterans.  This Congress needs to get busy restoring full funding for our Veterans, and I will be on the frontlines of that effort.

"We ran this race because we want our neighbors to be secure in their retirement.  A Democratic Congress will never roll the dice on your future.   I will never vote to privatize Social Security.

"We ran this race because we want a new direction for our economy. We need to create jobs. And we need policies that encourage good American businesses, Patriot Corporations, to stay in this country and this district, hire American workers and give them good pay, good benefits, and the right to organize.

"I will always stand up and fight for our working families.  And I will make job creation my top job. On January 3rd, I will start that work. And my staff in this district will include a full-time economic development director who will wake up every day to work with me and with all of you, to partner with local businesses and workers, and to build new opportunities for growth.

"With Democrats in charge of Congress, America's working families will get a raise in the minimum wage.

"Some took notice of the support I've received from organized labor in this campaign.  Whether it's on the job, securing rights at work for workers everywhere, or supporting candidates that will fight for working families, Labor has made America a better country.

"I'm a proud member of UNITE HERE!  And, in Congress, I will never forget my labor roots or my brothers and sisters who worked so hard to win this race for working people.

"Thank you Jerry Messer, Joe Costigan, Jerry Morrison and all of the wonderful trade unionists for your support.

"I was a union steward at Seaford Clothing Factory when I met Lane Evans the candidate in 1981.  Lane eventually convinced me to leave Seaford and join his staff so that, in his words, we could together serve as stewards for this entire district.   Working on Lane's campaign and on his staff changed my life forever.

"It has been a source of great pride and a high honor for me to work alongside Lane Evans.  He has been more than just my boss and my Congressman. He has been a friend and a mentor.   And to me and so many in this district he has been our hero--fighting for our families and for progressive values with unwavering courage and commitment.

"Thank you, Lane Evans, for your leadership and your service to this district.  Thank you for your service to this country.

"And thank you for taking a chance on that young man at Seaford 24 years ago.   You showed me and so many others that if you commit yourself to a cause and do what's right, if you are willing to do the work, you can make a difference.

"Lane Evans may be retiring from Congress, but we all know his legacy will endure forever.

"I am ready to build on my mission of service to the people of this district.  I will always work to make you all proud and I will always be on your side.


"Together, we are going to build a brighter future for the 17th district of Illinois.


"We've got a lot of work to do.  Our nation and our district face serious challenges.  But, together, we will meet them.

"Thank you all for the work you've done, for your generosity, and for the sacrifices you've made.


"I need to say some specific thanks and then I just want to spend time personally thanking all of you.

"This was a challenging campaign and it demanded a lot from my family.  I would never have been able to do this without the loving support and the help of my wonderful wife, Beckie Hare.  Thank you, Beckie.  I love you.

"My children have been wonderful.  My son Lou put his life on hold to work full-time on this campaign (Lou's wife). My daughter Amy volunteered her time night after night after working a full day at her own job (Amy's husband).   You all mean the world to me and I can't tell you how much I love you and how grateful I am to you.

"I agree that you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. On this campaign, I have been fortunate to have an amazing staff surround me along the way.  I want to thank my campaign manager, Teresa Kurtenbach. And I want to thank my Field Director, Pat O'Brien. Jon Samuels, my Press Secretary.   Jessica O'Connell, who cannot be with us tonight. Jess is my finance director.  To Donna, Andy, Kenny, Melissa: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

"Art Winstein, my treasurer, thank you for everything you did to make this campaign a success.

"Jeff Terronez, thank you for your work and your friendship.

"John Gianoulius, thank you.

"This is an enormous district.  And I want to thank the group of organizers who spent the last several months working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, working with volunteers and "keeping this campaign running in every one of the twenty three counties in this great district.   I know it was hard work and I want you all to know how much I appreciate what you've done.

"My parents have been gone for some time now.  But I know that tonight they are very proud.  Many of you have heard me recall the story of a promise I made to my father before he passed. He asked me to care for my mother and my sisters.   And he asked me to devote my life to a cause that would help other families avoid some of the tough times mine faced.

"I've honored that promise all these years.  And I want you all to know that, in Congress I will never stop working to help make life better and hard times fewer for the people of this district.

"I am not just going there to be a good vote.  I am going there to make a difference.

"I want to again, thank all of you.  I wish everyone who was a part of this great campaign could be here tonight.  I will be hitting the road again soon because the people in every single county and city in this district are important.   And I want to thank them personally for this victory.

"But, for now, it's time to celebrate!!"