Trish Zornio’s resume says scientist, but it could soon say candidate. The 32-year-old biomedical scientist from Superior is putting noticeable research into her consideration of running against U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020.
A Democrat from a family of New Hampshire Republicans, she has a detailed website about her potential candidacy. Monday evening she held the latest in a series of town hall-style meetings at the Boulder Public Library, and she’s trying to figure out what it would take financially for a newcomer to run.
Zornio brings a resume proving authenticity to her issues. She is a millennial woman with a razor-keen background in science and the environment and an outsider to the political outcomes and baggage many voters are tired of. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump showed the latter.
“The health-care votes were a tragedy,” Zornio said of her reasons to oppose Gardner. “That in no way is what Colorado should have had in a representative, and it in no way is what should have happened on a national stage.”
Zornio has worked on medical research for the University of Colorado Boulder, Denver Health Medical Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine, and most recently on a National Institutes of Health-funded study on rare and undiagnosed diseases.
She said the Affordable Care Act is imperfect, but it improving it makes more sense than creating a vacuum for care. Zornio said she was concerned by Senate Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace it last month, but especially their failed “skinny repeal” without a replacement health-care system for tens of millions of people.
Zornio said the science around the environment is clear.
“We need senators who are in office who understand and appreciate the science, and not only that, but can advocate,” she said. “And when you have a party that’s rising, that’s pulling us from things like the Paris (climate) accord and such, this isn’t acceptable. This isn’t a partisan issue, protecting our environment and our public lands.”
Acknowledging the role energy development has in the state, Zornio supports the advancement of renewable sources, because “we have the opportunity here in Colorado to make headway and be on the forefront of the nation,” she said.
Zornio’s potential candidacy in Colorado was featured in Melissa Healy’s health and science blog in the Los Angeles Times in June. The post is titled, “What happens when scientists leave their labs to experiment with politics?”
Zornio is the lead coordinator for the Colorado chapter of 314 Action, a nonprofit that helps those who work in science, technology, energy and math get involved in policy-making.
But can she raise the kind of bucks it takes to compete? Gardner has collected and spent more than $13 million since he jumped in the Senate race against Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in 2013.
“I think that’s a really good question,” she said with a nervous laugh. “That’s part of the exploration process, but I think there’s a huge movement right now with a number of organizations trying to get women, scientist particularly in office, youth in office … We’ve seen that it’s possible to get candidates elected from the grassroots level. It’s possible to do.”
A Colorado resident since 2009, Zornio has done a lot of work in the community work, as well.
She is a board adviser for the 500 Women Scientists Youth Pod in Boulder County, as well the principal director of CoMusica, a community music program she founded in 2013 .