In August of 2018, Tamborine Borrelli will be on the ballot running to represent Washington’s 10th congressional district in a nonpartisan, top two primary.
Borrelli is the first candidate running under The Party for Us, a party formed in part by Bernie Sanders’s inspiring presidential primary campaign to give candidates a viable option outside of the two major parties.
Although planning to unseat Denny Heck, an incumbent Democrat since 2013, may seem daunting on its face, a new wave of local victories in Thurston County signifies a change in the electorate. Borrelli was part of the coalition that canvassed and phone banked for Renata Rollins, Lisa Parshley, EJ Zita, and Bill Fishburn in November. I believe this coalition, with recent election victories, shows a path forward for Borrelli’s campaign.
Striving to be a breath of fresh air in our current political landscape, a stark contrast from what we’ve come to know as politics as usual, corporatism, with politicians and the policy they back influenced by big donors, Borrelli tells Progressive Army she is “an activist who is endeavoring to actually represent what the majority of the people want.”
Medicare for All
Perhaps nothing illustrates the difference between Borrelli and Heck more than the issue of Medicare for All. In the video above, Borrelli poignantly asks Heck if the reason why he has yet to endorse HR676 is because of a conflict of interest given his campaign contributions from the healthcare industry. Heck goes so far as to say he has no trouble sleeping at night in his (non)answer that, in short, outlined how he knows what’s right for his constituents even though, according to an April 6th poll conducted by the Economist/YouGov, 60% of the American public support such a measure. Borrelli believes such a stance is:
The epitome of a corporatist Democrat who puts profit over people, like the parties themselves. Due to his commitment to the monied interests who finance his campaign, he must align with their need to maintain a health care system that prioritizes profits over the care of human beings. This is what we are watching in real time work to further decimate the middle class. This is part of the reason I, and the party I’m running with, are committed to changing the way campaigns are financed.
We all have come to understand today that candidates who are funded by big monied interests, in fact, work, first and foremost, for big monied interests. Beginning to confront that fact is something that is as important to me as just winning this Congressional seat, because it’s at the root of what prevents us from fixing all the issues that we face, including implementing a single payer healthcare system.
Representative Heck was one of the many superdelegates in the state of Washington who refused to vote for Senator Sanders even though he won 73% of the pledged delegates and, instead, backed Hillary Clinton.
This is another example where Heck decided he knew better than the majority and, even more troublesome, can’t see that the superdelegate system itself as problematic.
On the other hand, Borrelli, a national delegate, participated in the historical walk out at the Democratic National Convention with hundreds of other delegates in protest of, as she puts it, “our democracy being silenced.”
Climbing out of an Apathy
As with most Americans, Borrelli up until 2015 was in what she calls, “a deep apathetic sleep, politically.” She didn’t see a space for her voice because she didn’t believe politicians were ever really for the people.
During Bernie Sanders’s presidential primary, the constant drumbeat of Sanders calling out the 1%, big money in politics, the media, and the effects from the deregulation of Wall Street really moved Borrelli. So much so, that she was moved to action:
I felt that this was my opportunity to support a candidate that was not of the status quo and to be a part of a movement that put the people first. I immersed myself in the campaign, opening a volunteer campaign office here in Yelm for phone banking, canvassing, and voter registration. I spoke to the high school students and shared with them why they shouldn’t be apathetic as I had been and how they can make a difference if they get involved. I became a Deputy Field Organizer for the campaign as well as caucus site leader. I committed to going all the way to the Convention to fight for this once in a lifetime opportunity for the people to have a leader that cared for their needs. So much so, that I became a National Delegate and ran for State Senate.
As you may have already noted, money in politics is one of the big issues, if not the biggest, for Borrelli. Thus, when she found out about a protest in D.C. over the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, she was inspired to be there. Borrelli recalls, “Sometimes you can be a part of something that is monumental and never realize it until it’s over; this was automatic recognition.”
I asked her about any events in her life that truly moved her politically, and for Borrelli this event stands by itself:
We were every color, class, and creed that makes up humanity, walking through the highways, making our way that last leg of the march from Baltimore into D.C., chanting [through] the streets. As we got a block or two away from the Capital [sic] there was a palpable surge of anticipation and anxiety with every step that drew us closer to our destination.
There were thousands of us, but only 400 of us ushered in toward the Capitol steps; we were the ones who had committed wholeheartedly to our cause, regardless of the possible legal ramifications. Our hours of protesting on the steps of the Capitol were contrasted by the ominous threat of the snipers positioned with their firearms at the ready all while discussing our circumstances with the Capitol police on the steps. In spite of the meaningful conversation with them, these officers eventually followed [through] with their orders to handcuff, photograph, and then usher us row by row into the paddy wagons (buses) to the booking facility.
As I was being arrested, I looked up into the windows of Congress and wondered what might be different if the people on the steps protesting money in politics were the people up in those offices peaking through the curtains.
Primary Election: August 7, 2018
General Election: November 6, 2018
FaceBook: Tamborine Borrelli for Congress
If you are changing addresses you must file by July 6th by mail and if you are registering for the first time you have until July 30th, but it must be in person. The election is a top two primary; vote by mail or ballot box.