By Jon Cronin
A Mendham resident and history professor is making his second Democratic primary bid for New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district.
Mark Washburne ran against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Parsippany) in 2016 and lost 35, 338 to 1,538, according to Ballotpedia.com.
Washburne, an avid runner, said, “I’m used to races. If I had one bad race or a couple bad races it doesn’t mean I’ll be away forever. The first time I ran, I didn’t take money from anybody. I’ve always been concerned about money in politics, but this time I’m taking money. Politics is about learning.”
Washburne said he doesn’t want to criticize Sherrill’s work, but the incumbent is a moderate and belongs to a group of conservative leaning Democrats, the Blue Dogs. He believes that residents deserve a choice. He was disappointed that she voted against impeachment proceedings when it came before Congress in July and against Pelosi for Speaker of the House.
He is an unabashed progressive, is very concerned about the success of President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment and published a book in 2005 about his ancestor U.S. Rep. Elihu Washburne, who was deeply involved in the impeachment of President Andrew in 1868.
“I read the Mueller report and I’m very concerned about this country,” said Washburne.
He announced his run on September 17 (Constitution Day) before Congress’s impeachment proceedings began and is relieved they have done so. He quoted Benjamin Franklin’s statement after the founding father was questioned about what kind of government America was to have, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
“Keeping it is very important to me,” said Washburne.
On September 24, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment proceedings, Washburne noted, “This is a week for the history books. On Monday there were only 135 members in favor of impeachment, today it’s 218.”
Washburne’s concern isn’t only the success of impeachment, he also wants Medicare for all to become a reality. He has been a history professor at the County College of Morris for the past 27 years and tells his students that the college doesn’t hire teachers full-time because healthcare is so expensive.
“Getting insurance through employers isn’t working,” he said.
“Obamacare is good for a start,” he said, “but it relies too much on employers, they don’t want to be in that business. It’s hard on startups.”
He explains that people paid their own insurance until a wage freeze during WWII and employers started offering healthcare as an incentive. Then, he pointed out, that costs started going up in the 70’s.
He is in favor of President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, but is against President Trump’s tax cuts and likens it to, “having a fun night out with a credit card, but making someone else pay tomorrow.”
He added, “I would cut in the military (spending). We’re spending more than an estimated next 10 countries. It’s strange to have such high spending when we have more domestic issues to take care of.”
Education is also important to him. He noted that in the 20th century this country decided on having public grade schools and high schools. “If we’re going to be competitive in the 21st century, we have to have free college.”
His idea is to first have community colleges be tuition free followed by four year colleges.
Washburne also believes that the Stars Program in New Jersey, which currently gives community college scholarships to the top 10 percent of high school students needs to be expanded upon.
Before teaching, Washburne was a stockbroker for 10 years. He has an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has taught history, marketing, business, and economics in the past 27 years of his teaching career.
Washburne is also president of Streak Runners International, a group of fellow daily distance runners who keep track of their runs. His streak began on Dec. 31, 1989. In his career he has run 841 races and 36 marathons. He has run the Boston Marathon 16 times.
His official website is www.mwashburneforcongress.com