My candidacy for U.S. Senate has never been about me but about service to the country I love.

Eight months ago, I resigned from my job and stepped forward to run because I saw politics as usual in Washington hurting Tennesseans, with no one willing to challenge a two-term incumbent who was not representing our values.

On issue after issue, hardened partisans chose to focus on what divides us rather than working together and finding common ground on the major issues of the day: healthcare, education, jobs and the economy. This year alone we’ve seen two major bills crafted behind closed doors without any input from the American people that will have devastating consequences.

My message from the beginning has been that we need our elected leaders to put people ahead of politics and work together to accomplish their mission. I look forward to a time when we can thank more of our elected leaders for their service the way people thank me when I am in uniform.

The reaction to this message was extraordinary, thanks to people like you, %%firstname(friend)%%.

Together we raised a million dollars from thousands of Tennesseans and gave voice to people who have been ignored for far too long. I could not be prouder of our efforts. Each day on the campaign trail meeting and talking with Tennesseans from Johnson City to Memphis has been incredibly rewarding. There is energy for change.

The political environment has changed as well and we cannot risk any distractions in our fight to defeat Marsha Blackburn’s extreme agenda. It is in this spirit of unity, not further division, that I am making the choice to step back as a candidate at this time to put us all on the path to victory.

While this is a difficult decision, I am not done serving.

The benefits of service are well known. Service builds character, allows young people to meet and work with a diverse group of people, gives us all a stake in our communities, and can help pay for higher education.

And yet, public service is under attack. As someone who paid off my student loans with combat pay from Iraq, I cannot stand by while national service is endangered by people like Marsha Blackburn – who voted to end AmeriCorps – and her colleagues who are now targeting public service student loan forgiveness.

I will continue using the platform you helped me build to launch “Believe in Service,” a political action committee to help elect candidates that will protect and expand our critical national service programs. Please help me make this new mission a success by visiting BelieveInService.com.

I will never be able to express my full gratitude to you and all my supporters for your enthusiasm, encouragement, and your belief in me.

Thank you,

James Mackler