I ran for Congress and lost. Here's what I learned.

Most people who enter politics like to downplay their lofty ambitions, but I truly never saw myself running for office.

I’m a single mom who has worked in the health care industry for 12 years. I was born to a 15-year-old mother and survived the liberal culture of welfare. I have no ties to party insiders or big donors. I had simply decided that enough was enough.

Somebody had to take on U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican I believed had abandoned his Dallas district and compromised his conservative principles.

I realized I was that somebody. But how to beat him?

Everyone had an opinion, but talk, as they say, is cheap. Indeed, congressional campaigns are targeted by masters of manipulation and self-delusion. Consultants whose self-importance exceeds their actual performance rove from campaign to campaign looking for their next paycheck. Everyone’s trying to get something for nothing, and politics is the art of figuring that out. At times, that process caused me more grief than my opposition.

At the end of the day, it was always the grassroots that kept the campaign going. I met with volunteers and voters in restaurants, private homes and workplaces at events both large and small. Our signs began to pop up in the yards of prominent individuals who were unlikely supporters of either the Tea Party or conservatives.

We knew we faced a tough task in cracking the safe known as Congressional District 32, a fundraising hub that often attracts top Republican candidates from around the state and country. So we did things the old-fashioned way, going door to door and building support through face-to-face interactions. Fortunately, that safe began to crack open on its own as our momentum grew.

Despite my little campaign’s big presence, though, I soon realized that we were in this alone.

For all the talk of a new Republican Party capable of appealing to minorities and women, I was targeted for destruction, forced to fend off racist and sexist attacks. The GOP sings the mantra of inclusion, but what it really means is that you’re only welcome if you know your place and stand in line.

I have defended Republicans against accusations of racism for years. I have done this not because I’m a proud black Republican woman — which I am — but because it’s right.

But the Republican establishment isn’t concerned with all of America; it only cares about cashing donors’ checks. By focusing more on raising money than on people, the establishment has sold the soul of the GOP.

That’s why the Republican Party is dying — and what will keep it from ever becoming a truly national party again.

In spite of those challenges, our campaign won Collin County and the cities of Wylie, Sachse, Rowlett and parts of Garland. On Election Day, we won 42 percent of the vote — one of the closest GOP congressional races in the state — against one of the highest-ranking members of the delegation.

I learned a lot. Will I run again? We’ll see.

Katrina Pierson

Media consultant; former 2014 congressional candidate