5-2-18__When Saira Rao decided to run for Congress, she vowed she wouldn’t accept any political action committee donations.
Instead, she decided to raise money the old-fashioned way. She made a list of everyone she’s ever met. Then she added the names of people who knew her parents before she painstakingly contacted each one by phone, email or text. The effort was worth it.
In the first quarter of this year, she raised more money than DeGette. “The remarkable thing was they came,” Rao said. “They gave. They believe in this need for change, this hunger for change.”
The first challenge was getting on the primary ballot. Now, Rao wants to connect with all the voters in Colorado’s 1st Congressional District. The district of nearly 1 million residents, which includes Denver, Glendale, Englewood, Sheridan and Cherry Hills Village, has 120,000 homes. Rao wants to be able to hire enough people to supplement her volunteer base to knock on all those doors.
Rao, who with a college friend launched In This Together Media, publishes books for young adults and children that feature black, brown, LGBTQ, and immigrant kids as central characters. Just as her company serves an audience who has been ignored, Rao wants to serve constituents who haven’t been heard.
“Some people say we need to take back our country, but people of color never thought we had the country, to begin with,” she said. “We need to take our country and make it equitable, socially, racially, economically.”
Rao chose to run for Congress because she thinks that’s where she can make the biggest difference. “I’m disappointed in our current leaders. They aren’t advocating for the disenfranchised. They are too beholden to corporate interests.”
|Rao squares off against|
DeGette on the
June 26 primary ballot.
“I just have one thing to say: Imagine me with subpoena power,” she said, pledging to subpoena EPA chief Scott Pruitt, the Denver Post reported.
Although the district is considered safely Democratic, the primary winner faces Casper Stockham, who also challenged DeGette in 2016, in November.
If Rao is able to defeat DeGette, she hopes her campaign shows candidates don’t have to have big money to win. And if she wins, Rao promises she won’t become focused only on raising money for her next race. Her goal is to listen to her constituents first.
Then she'll fight to secure federal housing and transit money and search for better ways than prison to rehabilitate criminals.
Rao said it’s time for American voters to stop electing the same people. Instead, voters should install a new Congress who isn’t beholden to corporate interests. “Voters should defeat anyone who takes PAC money,” she said. For more about Saira click here.