Get to know the candidates before you go to the polls

DOVER — Election Day is just 16 days away.

Do you know the candidates?

There is still plenty of time for you to make informed decisions, starting today with Delaware State News reporter Matt Bittle’s story on the race for U.S. Senate and complementary questions and answers.

The U.S. Senate race is at the top of the Delaware ballot with Democratic incumbent Tom Carper running against Rob Arlett and two third-party challengers.

On Monday, the Delaware State News will feature the races for state auditor and state treasurer.

More head-to-head comparisons in state legislative and county races will follow.

Next Sunday, the Delaware State News will preview the race for U.S. Congress with Democratic incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester and maverick Republican Scott Walker.

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The League of Women Voters of Delaware — a nonpartisan, nonprofit group — will continue its mission of promoting democracy with a “Candidates Night” in Dover.

The debate, featuring the candidates for U.S. Senate, attorney general, treasurer and auditor, will be 7-9 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Bank of America Building at Delaware State University.

Along with the League of Women Voters, the event is hosted by the American Association of University Women of Delaware’s Dover branch and WDSU radio.

Ellen Wasfi, chairwoman of the event for the league, said topics will come directly from the audience.

She will read questions the audience written on index cards and read to the candidates.

“The whole point of this is to expand the electorate, to get people more involved in the process,” said Ms. Wasfi. “What the league does and what this country is supposed to do is all about the process.

“This is grass-roots democracy.”

The league has commitments from Sen. Carper, Mr. Arlett, Green Party candidate Demitri Theodoropoulus and Libertarian Nadine Frost.

Also on the bill will be treasurer candidates Ken Simpler, the Republican incumbent; and challengers Colleen Davis, a Democrat; and David Chandler, of the Green Party.

The auditor’s race debate will feature James Spadola, a Republican who was appointed a deputy by outgoing state auditor Tom Wagner a few days ago, and Kathleen McGuiness, a Democrat.

Like the auditor’s office, there will be a new face in the attorney general’s office after the election. The candidates are Democrat Kathleen Jennings and Republican Bernard Pepukayi.

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The congressional race will not be included in the forum.

Ms. Wasfi said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester replied weeks ago that she had a scheduling conflict and would not be able to attend.

Her opponent, Mr. Walker, said he will be there to mingle with the audience before and after the forum.

The League of Women Voters adheres to strict rules set by the Federal Elections Commission, Federal Communications Commission and the Internal Revenue Service to protect its nonpartisan status, said Ms. Wasfi. That’s why Mr. Walker will not be on the stage.

“If you allow one person, you are, in effect, supporting that person’s campaign because there is no other voice there,” said Ms. Wasfi. “There’s no point-counterpoint.”

She was impressed with the turnout of citizens for the county-level debate last Wednesday, but disappointed with the number of candidates.

Out of 33 candidates, 20 declined the invitation.

Of the 11 state legislative races for Kent County, only two had the minimum number of candidates. The two races were the 31st District House race between incumbent Democrat Sean Lynn and Republican David Anderson; and the 34th District House race between incumbent Republican Lyndon Yearick, Democrat Adewunmi Kuforji and Libertarian William McVay.

And, of the county races, only the Recorder of Deeds had the two challengers present — Democratic incumbent Betty Lou McKenna and Republican challenger Eugenia Thornton.

Trey Paradee, the Democratic incumbent in the 17th District, was present but not allowed to address the audience after his opponent, Republican Justin King, failed to show.

The 16th Senate District incumbent Colin Bonini, a Republican, had declined the invitation in advance and therefore Democratic challenger Louisa Philips knew in advance that she would not be allowed to participate.

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Ms. Wasfi said the league’s debate structure with her posing the audience’s questions and keeping answers to a time limit helps keep the debate orderly.

“Somebody has to preserve civility,” she said.

Much like we try to do at the Delaware State News in presenting the candidates’ views, I suggested to her.

“We’re twins in this — different functions but it’s the same goal,” she said.

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The Delaware State News sent surveys to statewide and local candidates (Kent and Sussex counties).

We did not receive responses from the following candidates: Bernard Pepukayi, Republican, attorney general; David Chandler, Green Party, treasurer; Jeff Spiegelman, Republican, Rep. District 11; Paul Thornburg, Rep. District 11, Democrat; James DeMartino, Rep. District 14, Republican; Charlotte Middletown, Rep. District 28, Republican; Robin Hayes, Rep. District 29, Republican; Andria Bennett, Rep. District 32, Democrat; James Webb, Rep. District 33, Republican; Adewunmi Kuforiji, Rep. District 34, Democrat; Jesse Vanderwende, Rep. District 35, Republican; Ron Gray, Rep. District 38, Republican; Danny Short, Rep. District 39, Republican; Tim Dukes, Rep. District 40, Republican; and Brad Connor, Rep. District 41, Democrat.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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