After four years of a government run by people who hate climate science, environmental science, medical science, and just … science, it might be nice to have someone in office who doesn’t just respect science but understands science. That’s why 3.14 Action actively recruits candidates with a science and medical background and helps them get the training they need to run for office. That includes seven members of the House who took office in 2018.
In the 2020 election, there may be more candidates that you realize aren’t just respectful of science, but can genuinely lay claim to the title “scientist.” On the Senate side, there’s the obvious science candidate in Arizona’s engineer, aviator, and astronaut Mark Kelly. However, Kansas Senate candidate Barbara Bollier is actually Dr. Barbara Bollier—potentially the first woman physician to take a seat in the Senate. Up in Alaska, Al Gross may be known as a commercial fisherman, but he’s also Dr. Allan Gross, orthopedic surgeon. And while most people may know John Hickenlooper from his previous role as the governor of Colorado, before that he swung a rock hammer as a geologist (go, #TeamGeologists!).
3.14’s House slate is an even impressive group, but here are a couple of stand-out candidates in important races that are right on the edge of victory: Dr. Nancy Goroff (NY-01) and Dr. Cameron Webb (VA-05).
Like Bollier, Nancy Goroff has another chance to check off a “first” that should have been achieved years—make that decades—ago. Believe it or not, if Goroff beats out Lee Zeldin, who was the key Republican congressman in running Donald Trump’s impeachment defense, she would be the first female PhD scientist in Congress. That’s exciting. And sad. And enraging. And should be pretty damn energizing for people who want to support women, or science, or both. Voters might also find motivation in defeating a Republican congressman who has been nicknamed “Trump’s defender,” and who really was the head of Trump’s impeachment defense. There’s also the little fact that Zeldin has praised Trump’s handling of COVID-19, which might be a thing in New York state.
Goroff is the chair of the Chemistry Department at Stony Brook University, where she pioneered research on improving renewable energy. She also worked within the university system to expand health care to more of the university’s staff. So there’s a chance to replace a guy who is actively feeding into Trump’s lies about COVID-19 with someone who has improved health care for others even before taking office.
The latest polls have Goroff and Zeldin literally nose to nose. And that’s huge. When Goroff first entered the race, she was down by double digits. Then seven, then five, then … deadlocked.
As a scientist and a teacher, Goroff would be a huge upgrade. And that “no women PhDs in Congress” line? That really needs to be crossed. Immediately, if not sooner.
When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, Cameron Webb has been right on the front lines. He’s a practicing physician who has been treating coronavirus patients while conducting his campaign. His wife also happens to be a ER doctor and an author who has written a children’s book about living with COVID-19.
There have been a thousand articles about the experts on public health policy who were involved in President Obama’s administration, and who Trump let go. Webb is one of those people. If Trump didn’t think that he was better and smarter than all the experts, Webb might have been tapped to be at the White House right now helping to plan effective policy. Instead, that job went to noted health expert Jared Kushner and some of his investment banker buddies. It’s just possible that actual doctors and experts like Webb might have … not killed over 200,000 Americans.
Webb is currently the director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia. His experience in public health makes him exactly the kind of candidate the nation needs at the moment, and he would be a fantastic asset in Congress.
Webb’s opponent is Bob Good. Good is a former fundraiser for Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University who displaced a sitting Republican Congressman because that soon-to-be former congressman, Denver Riggleman, failed to be against same-sex marriage. Conservative Republican voters couldn’t stand the idea of people being treated equally, so they replaced Riggleman with hardline conservative Good. Cameron is a well-known inspirational speaker, and it would have been great to see him debate this issue with Good … only there was no debate, because Good backed out.
Just a month ago, Good’s support among conservatives had him running ahead of Webb. But in the last few weeks, Webb has taken the lead. Still, it’s a narrow lead.
Both Webb and Goroff are heading toward the final days of the campaign in tight races, but with momentum on their side. If polls keep moving in the right direction, this could be not just a blue wave, but a blue science wave.