Karen Ramsburg understands that she faces an uphill battle in her bid for the 9th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster.
To bolster her chances, she's looking for a little love in the April 24 primary.
"My goal is ballot access," the 50-year-old Mercersburg resident said.
Ramsburg, an independent, is eying at least 3,000 write-in votes for the Democratic nomination. At least 1,000 write-ins are required before a candidate is qualified for the party nod.
Without this nomination, she said, she may have to solicit more than 12,000 signatures from 9th Congressional District residents just to earn a place on the November ballot.
Waynesboro resident Travis G. Schooley was recently ousted from the Republican primary ballot after a number of his signatures were challenged in court, ensuring that Shuster would be unchallenged for the GOP nomination.
"That would be a shame for him to run unopposed," Ramsburg said.
Ramsburg was born in Frederick, Md. A lifelong Democrat, she left the party in December 2010.
"I just wasn't real happy with either party," she said. "I just think our political system isn't working for all Americans."
Despite her independent affiliation, Ramsburg has earned the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak. A retired Navy admiral, Sestak defeated U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic primary before losing to Pat Toomey in the general election.
"Karen understands that as a congressman, people matter first, above party and self," Sestak said in a letter. "She will work first and foremost to create quality jobs that have a future for families, with raising wages."
Ramsburg said her plan to do that involves new tax breaks for small businesses.
"We need a more equitable tax structure to put money back in people's hands and create good-paying jobs," she said, adding that she will resist the influence of lobbyists and other corporate interests.
"Once you take that money from the corporations you have to do their bidding. Their policies have destroyed our country. We've hollowed out the country like a pumpkin."
As a mother and nurse for nearly two decades, Ramsburg said, she's uniquely qualified to advocate for all constituents, regardless of ideology. Her recent campaign visits have included a trip to the Somerset County Democratic banquet and a rally against Gov. Tom Corbett at Shippensburg University, as well as meetings with various tea party groups.
"I want to get to know these people and how they think," she said. "I love reaching out to all people."
According to Ramsburg, a few of the big-ticket items on her legislative agenda include revoking NAFTA, defeating "cap-and-trade" carbon tax legislation and reforming health care by maximizing private competition. She named U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent, and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul as two of her political influences.
"There's so much work to be done," she said.
Her website is http://ramsburg4congress.com.