Serving you is the greatest privilege of my life. Over the past 40 years, I’ve had one goal: make life better for the people of this state.
You don’t become longest serving Senator in Montana without a lot of help from a lot of people.
I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me.
When I asked my hero Mike Mansfield whether I should run for U.S. Senate, he told me it would take: a lot of hard work, a lot of shoe leather, and a bit of luck.
In the next year and a half, instead of on campaigning, I want to spend all my hard work, shoe leather and luck working hard for the people of Montana.
This was not an easy decision, but the last few months I’ve felt the calling:
It whispered to me among the elk resting in a meadow east of the Bridger Mountains.
I heard it as thousands of snow geese flew over the Rocky Mountain Front.
The pull came up from my soul like the ducks that rose in clouds from the winter wheat fields of Teton County at dusk.
And, I thought I might never go back to Washington when we got stuck in the mud trying to drive through the Castle Mountains a few weeks ago.
My mother, Jean, was Montana through and through. Losing her in 2011 reminded me how precious our time is, and how blessed I am to spend my time on earth as a Montanan.
I’m not just from a Montana family. I’m from a Montana ranching family. The soil is in my blood. At the end of 2014, it will be time to come home.
I’ve dedicated much of my life to keeping Montana lands open. I’m excited to enjoy Montana’s special places with the special people in my life.
With my wife, Melodee, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. We made this decision together. We are looking forward to spending more time hiking Montana trails, and enjoying time with our children – Zeno, his wife Stephanie, Katie and Joey – at our new home in Bozeman.
One more thing I love about Mel is the two wonderful children she’s brought into my life. Seeing Katie and Joey together reminds me how much I’m looking forward to being closer to my brother John.
Helena folks, don’t get sore about Bozeman. Helena will always be my hometown. I’m thrilled Zeno and Stephanie are now in our family home.
As your Senator, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to do great things. But without a doubt, the thing I am most proud of is being Zeno’s father.
I want to make one thing very clear: there is important work left to do, and I intend to spend the next year and a half getting it done. I’m not turning out to pasture.
I am doubling down on legislation to permanently protect the American side of the North Fork watershed and keep the Rocky Mountain Front the way it is for future generations. I am putting everything I’ve got into leaving Montana with strong Highway and Farm Bills.
And I’m going full steam ahead to put on the best Economic Development Summit yet.
I am focused on simplifying the tax code, tackling the debt, passing trade agreements, and implementing affordable healthcare for families.
Above all else, I want you to know I am grateful for the privilege to serve you. I look forward to working with you as I continue to serve the state I love for the next year and a half.
Thank you. Now let’s get to work.