Debbie Bacigalupi feels like she's already won, and in many ways she has.
The young, energetic Republican businesswoman, in her first political campaign, overcame long odds to finish second, with 21.4 percent of the vote, in the heavily Democratic 14th District, to iconic Congresswoman Jackie Speier (74.3 percent) in the June primary.
"I feel like I have made a difference," Bacigalupi said in an informal interview in her new hometown of San Carlos recently. "I feel I am advocating for a future people can be excited about. I know I make a difference."
Would she be interested in a public forum that included Speier?
"Absolutely," she said. "If for nothing else than to listen to people she doesn't seem to be listening to. There are other voices not being heard."
Bacigalupi's campaign manager Glenn Gelineau hopes the League of Women Voters will organize such a panel.
Bacigalupi understands her campaign faces an uphill struggle, and that's something she embraces. The status quo is just not working, she says.
"We are no longer stake holders in our government," Bacigalupi said. "Lawmakers are too coopted by special interests and lobbyists. I am not tied to anyone and I will not tie myself to anyone."
Bacigalupi is a California native and was raised in Sacramento, where her father worked as a civil engineer for the Department of Transportation and Open Space/Land Use Planning.
She began her college career at UC Davis and eventually graduated with an MBA from Notre Dame de Namur.
Her original goal was to become a corporate event planner before seeing what was happening to her family's ranch.
"I wanted to be the most sought after event planner in the world," Bacigalupi said. "But life took a different route. I see good people getting hurt. Something happened. Government is supposed to represent us and protect us. Government has been hurting my family for the last five years with regulations and reinterpretations of laws.
"My parents worked hard and they are passionate," she continued. "The government says one thing and then does something else. Small businesses are being over regulated and that makes it harder, with higher costs. These restrictions hurt the economy."
She joined the Republican party because it most closely represented what she believed. She's not entirely convinced the Republicans have all the answers though.
"I wish I could say I'm an American party member first," Bacigalupi said. "I think both parties have strayed."
She does identify with the Republican platform that global warming is make believe, Obamacare will cost the taxpayers millions and government should get smaller, not bigger.
She may not have the same name recognition as Jackie Speier, but Bacigalupi is gaining traction in many areas of the district.
She recently discussed financial matters on a radio program and will be addressing a Cap and Trade rally in Sacramento next week.
Her catchy slogan, "Government on our side, not on our back!" has caught people's attention.
She may be running behind right now, but give her three months and it could get interesting.
Her official website is www.debbieforcongress.org/
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