Arlett wins U.S. Senate primary by comfortable margin

Rob Arlett and his wife Lorna chat with Vietnam Veteran Fred Smiga at the Fred Fifer Middle School in Camden on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

WILMINGTON — Rob Arlett won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate Thursday, pulling in about 67 percent of the vote. He will face sitting U.S. Sen. Tom Carper in November’s general election.

Mr. Arlett defeated Gene Truono and Roque De La Fuente, an afterthought candidate who lives in California. Mr. Truono garnered about 28 percent of the votes and Mr. De La Fuente pulled in 5 percent.

Gene Truono

Delaware has not had a Republican senator since Sen. Tom Carper ousted Bill Roth in 2001. Kevin Wade came the closest, garnering 42.2 percent of the vote in 2014.

Mr. Arlett has said he feels Delaware’s all-Democratic congressional delegation has failed to protect the interests of the majority of Delawareans, and supports President Donald Trump and his agenda.

“People throughout the state were wanting representation for them in Washington, D.C., and because I have proven to be the agent of change to go across the grain, to go across the good ol’ boy network, to go across the status quo, that’s why we were encouraged by many to do so and ultimately that’s why we as a family made a decision to run,” Mr. Arlett said in September. “Because we do need representation for the people in D.C. and that’s not what we have today.”

He could not be reached for comment Thursday night after results came in.

The Sussex County councilman says he never anticipated entering politics. In 2014, he was convinced by friends to run for Sussex County Council and beat incumbent Vance Phillips in a primary. Two months later, he defeated the Democratic candidate.

In 2016, the Trump campaign came calling, asking Mr. Arlett to be the state chairman. The businessman and former reality TV star won the GOP primary for Delaware, and Mr. Arlett attended the Republican National Convention in July.

Mr. Arlett’s star continued to rise after President Trump’s upset victory in the November 2016, and he helped the Presidential Inaugural Committee plan the swearing-in ceremony.

Earlier this year, the 51-year-old announced his candidacy for the Senate, the latest step in a “silly journey.”

He opted not to seek another term on County Council even though he is legally able to run for both offices and is confident he would have won.

“We’re in this to make a difference, and we did not want to send a message as we were running for the U.S. Senate that we were seeking a backup. We’re all in,” he said earlier in September.

A member of a military family, he served in the Naval Reserve and has lived in Delaware since 2006. Mr. Arlett, a self-described staunch family man and strong Christian, currently resides in Selbyville.

During the first leg of his campaign, Mr. Arlett has painted himself as the race’s true conservative and argued he has a proven track record.

The outcome of the primary no doubt pleased Doverite Mary Ellen Larimer, who was stumping for Mr. Arlett’s campaign earlier on Thursday at the polling station set up on Delaware Technical Community College Terry campus in Dover. She said she wanted to see a candidate with “morals and values” represent the state in Washington, D.C.

“Arlett is a Christian, a Republican, a family man, a small businessman and a veteran,” she said. “This country has fallen from its morals and values, and I don’t want to see it go down the tubes like other countries.”

Ms. Larimer said she believes Mr. Arlett is a serious contender to oust Sen. Carper — who she vehemently hopes isn’t elected to another term.

“He wants Delaware to be a sanctuary state and that just isn’t going to cut it for me,” she said. “He wants to bring more illegals in here and have us pay for it. I’m tired of paying for everyone else’s care. Of course, I don’t want to see anyone down and out, I never want that, but that’s why I go to church and give back to my community in those ways.”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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