Battlefield Colorado Series: Trish Zornio for US Senate

by: Adam James

The Democratic Party is looking past the impeachment process and the Republican Senate’s cover up and focusing on the political races that will decide whether the country recovers from Trumpism or falls into the abyss. A great deal of hope wrests in the flipping of a net 4 Senate seats (or 3 if the Democratic nominee wins the presidency and their Vice President becomes the president of the Senate to break the tie.) Colorado is a flash point in this political battle and scientist, Trish Zornio is planning on being the nominee to defeat Senator Cory Gardner for his seat in November. Zornio, who is in the hotly contested Democratic primary joined Majority 60 to talk about the race.

Trish Zornio recognized a problem, “There are currently zero scientists on the United States Senate science committee.” Zornio has worked in hospitals, clinics and universities over the course of her career and currently teaches at the University of Denver. The Senate often relies on lobbyists and partisan policy experts to inform their opinions when making law. Zornio argues that Senators should bring at least some of that knowledge to the table themselves. “I’m passionate about bringing a new kind of expertise to Washington so we can enact evidence-driven policy that will carry us into a true and inclusive 21st Century. At a time when science and technology impacts every area of our lives it’s critical we have this representation.”

One of the key factors in choosing a nominee for a statewide office such as the US Senate is representation. Zornio reports that, “Colorado has more women voters, more STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) and more Millennial residents per capita than almost anywhere else in the US.” She proudly hits on some of those key demographics herslf. “My expertise in science, healthcare and education is unparalleled in this race, in addition to my rural upbringing which matters because Colorado is a strong mix of urban and rural communities.”

US Senate Candidate Trish Zornio (CO) meets voters (@trish_zornio)
US Senate Candidate Trish Zornio (CO) meets voters (@trish_zornio)

Zornio is competing in a crowded Democratic field with nearly a dozen other candidates including a popular former governor, John Hickenlooper, who failed last year in his bid for the presidential nomination. But Zornio is banking on the national momentum for change and the embrace of female candidates who are entering public office as experts in their fields.

Washington has failed to focus successfully on the climate change crisis the rest of the world has banded together to address. Zornio believes her election to the Senate will help change that, “After years of working with some of the world’s leading experts,” Zorio explained, “we recently released our first 12 page report on how to swiftly address this crisis.” It’s hard to say that climate change isn’t a frequent subject for debate in American politics, but it’s time to put people in office who will move the needle.

Zornio sees a lot of opportunity for growth in her home state. When asked if there are industries that she will advocate for, she said, “There are several industries that we should work to promote in Colorado; outdoor industries, scientific innovation (we have some of the largest PhD/MS degrees per capita as well as many national laboratories), clean energy, next generation agriculture, and small businesses to help our local communities thrive.” Making sure that these industries find homes or expand and grow in Colorado will be a top priority for Zornio.

Like most Democrats running in 2020, Zornio wants to move the country closer to universal health coverage. She explained the path forward this way, “Having worked with patients throughout my career I am extremely passionate about achieving universal healthcare that is truly comprehensive, preventative, accessible, and cost effective. The very first steps include negotiating prescription costs, expanding brackets for medicare/medicaid, and extending a robust public option — these are a few of the tangible first steps toward a single payer healthcare system.” This puts her in line with most of the major presidential candidates running in 2020. While many Democratic voters and candidates view the single payer system as an end goal, it’s hard to argue against a public option being the first logical step in building public support.

With the obvious strategy by foreign actors and now Republicans themselves, being to divide the political left and fan the flames of tribalism that keep the two major parties from working together (which House Speaker Pelosi proved they could do when the Democratic speaker took up the marking pen to Trump’s NAFTA 2.0, built protections for workers and other features that help prevent corporate give-a-ways and exploitation of American workers, and passed the USMCA trade bill that Trump signed all during impeachment) we have been talking to candidates about topics that can foster cooperation. Zornia replied with optimism. She believes she’d be able to get Republican support to pass legislation on, “Expanding protections for public lands and wild fire mitigation in Colorado and beyond, particularly given the increased impacts of fires due to climate change.” Working together on these less controversial topics helps rebuild trust and cooperation. These are things we’ll need if we’re going to recover our Republic post Trump.

Trish lives in Superior, Colorado and teaches behavioral neuroscience and research methodology at the University of Colorado Denver while running for the US Senate. You can learn more about Trish Zornio and her campaign by visiting her website at and follow her on Twitter @Trish_Zornio.