As a Republican, I won by double digits in a year of GOP losses. Our playbook has to change.

I am a lifelong Arizonan, and I have a unique Arizona story.

In the 1930s, my grandfather immigrated from China and chose Arizona to raise a family. He opened one of the first grocery stores in South Phoenix and named it New State Market, a fitting title because Arizona was not only a newly established state but also a new experience for him.

My grandparents raised nine children in a small house next to the store, and all the children including my mother worked there, stocking shelves and running the cash register.

New State Market served the community for 63 years.

A 'Golden Mountain' of opportunity

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, my paternal grandfather ran a hand laundry business in Pittsburgh. During World War II, having worked a full day in the laundry, he worked the night shift as welder, building ships for the U.S. Navy while he and my grandmother raised four boys who helped with the chores in the laundry.

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At 9, my father was on his knees, sorting customers’ soiled clothing when he said in frustration to my grandfather, “What if I don't want to do this anymore?”

My grandfather responded, “You don’t have to. We live in the United States of America ... this Golden Mountain where you can be anything you want to be in this great country.”

To my immigrant grandparents, the United States represented a place of opportunity, a chance to excel and the prospect of success. “Golden Mountain” is where my family found freedom and opportunity.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks during an Arizona Republican election night gathering on Nov. 8, 2022.
State Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks during an Arizona Republican election night gathering on Nov. 8, 2022.

I chose a career in public service to give back to the state and country that offered so much to us.

In 2018, I was honored to be elected as the treasurer of Arizona, entrusted with responsibly and prudently managing your taxpayer dollars. As I stood for the inauguration at the state Capitol, with my hand on the Bible and my husband and two young children by my side, I recalled my family experiences and my grandparents’ hard work that brought me to that moment − their grocery store literally just blocks away from the Capitol.

I was the first Chinese American Republican woman elected to a major statewide office in the history of the United States, and the first Asian American elected to statewide office in Arizona.

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It's about issues, not Republican or Democrat talking points

This November, Arizonans placed their confidence in me to serve another four years.

As a Republican, conservative principles guide my approach to governance. I believe we should get back to the old-fashioned way of civil discourse and respect for others, even in our differences. It’s important for leaders to work for the people, not for themselves.

Coming from a family line of small business owners, I believe in the free enterprise system and a strong, competitive marketplace. As a mom, I want safe neighborhoods, good schools and a secure border.

In this year’s campaign, I took that message to all Arizonans − not just to Republicans. I carried the same message everywhere I went, in front of independents and even to open-minded Democrats. I spoke with working moms, college-educated women who live in the suburbs, just like me, and we talked about real issues that matter, not party affiliations.

I also traveled the state, even to the most remote of our rural counties. I shared my record in all 15 counties of earning and distributing more than $2 billion as treasurer. It was important to hear from residents in every county as each area has its own unique needs.

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As elected leaders, we must earn your vote

I’m humbled by the support we received this year. Our campaign earned the highest number of votes of any contested candidate for statewide office − a double digit win.

In Republican-heavy Yavapai County, our vote total actually exceeded the number of registered Republicans. In Mohave County, we received nearly 80% of the vote, indicating Republican voters and crossover voters such as independents and moderate Democrats supported our message.

The voters of Arizona want leaders who understand their core issues and will work to protect them. It’s important for those of us who lead the state to not just ask the people of Arizona for their vote. We must earn their vote.

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As I look back at my family’s story, working day to day, from morning until night, in the store for all of those six decades, they found success because they earned their customers’ support. They served their customers, not themselves.

In the same way, as we approach this season of new and returning government leaders in Arizona, I hope we will remember Arizona’s rich and remarkable past. That courageous yet confident and independent spirit that my grandfather had in building a grocery business with the merest of means, and opening the doors of his store each morning to welcome the customers in, that’s the Arizona way.

If we do, I’m confident we can preserve the Arizona we love and cherish, and my home state can be that “Golden Mountain” for generations to come.

Kimberly Yee is the treasurer of Arizona. She previously served in the Arizona Legislature and was the majority leader of the Arizona Senate. This column first ran in the Arizona Republic. Follow her on Twitter: @KimberlyYeeAZ

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In sea of Republican election losses, why one GOP candidate won big