Election 2020: U.S. Senate candidates

The Delaware State News presents profiles on the candidates for U.S. Senate.

Name: Christopher A. Coons

Party: Democratic

Age: 56

Family: Annie Coons (wife); Mike, Jack and Maggie Coons (children)

Residence: Wilmington

Occupation: Senator

Name: Lauren E. Witzke

Party: Republican

Age: 32

Family: Single

Residence: Delmar

Relevant experience: Candidate

Name: Mark Turley

Party: Independent Party of Delaware

Age: 65

Family: Married, three children, one grandchild

Residence: Millsboro

Occupation: Small business owner — national manufacturers rep agency

Name: Nadine Frost

Party: Libertarian

Age: Did not answer

Family: Did not answer

Residence: Did not answer

Relevant experience: Did not answer

Why are you running for this seat?

Chris Coons

CC: I’m running for re-election to the U.S. Senate because I want to continue fighting for Delawareans and delivering results for our state. From reducing the costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, to addressing gun violence and taking on climate change, there’s so much work to be done; I want to ensure that in all of those debates, the voices of all Delawareans are represented.

I’m also running for office because I believe in public service and giving back to the communities and the state where I grew up. The most common thing I hear from Delawareans is that they want their representatives in Congress to stop bickering, work together, and get things done. That’s the attitude I bring to work each day, and I’m proud of everything we’ve already been able to accomplish for Delaware.

LW: I was first inspired to run for the U.S. Senate in response to the rampant opioid epidemic that has ravaged our state. I’ve personally overcome an opioid addiction that began right here in Wilmington. But substance abuse is the consequence of a deeper crisis: that facing American families. Our families are struggling to make ends meet. They have been forgotten by our political class. Their wages and bargaining power have been driven down by mass migration. Some workers have been replaced entirely by cheap foreign labor. GM, Chrysler, and DuPont are only a few examples of offshoring that have cost Delawareans jobs during the tenures of Joe Biden and Sen. Chris Coons.

Lauren Witzke

By ending mass migration and bringing good jobs at fair wages back to Delaware, all Delawareans will have a shot at the American dream. They will be made whole. They will have hope, and upward mobility that the American working and middle classes used to have. They won’t turn to drugs or crime. That’s why I’m running for U.S. Senate.

MT: I am running for public office (US Senate) to serve the people of Delaware and the US. I believe we need a core group of non-politicians in the US Senate to keep the two major parties in check. Over the past 20 years or so the divide between the parties has grown at times causing gridlock when policies and legislation is required. We are at that place again where the two major parties cannot agree on relief for many Americans suffering through the pandemic and poor economic conditions.

Mark Turley

NF: Did not answer.

What do you see as the major issues in this election?

CC: Protecting and expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Re-building our economy and ensuring that Americans can work and support themselves and their families. Taking real action to address climate change, and as the co-chair of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, I’ve brought together Republicans and Democrats to move forward common-sense solutions on climate change. Addressing the deep racial divides, stemming from our country’s original sin of slavery, and making society more just and equitable for all.

LW: Mass immigration, the opioid epidemic, and the economy are the major issues in this election, and they are all related and exacerbated by a political class that has utterly left their voters behind. It is time to vote the wealthy ruling class out of office, and return to a government for and by the American people.

MT: Career politicians versus public servants. The US Senate needs strong, independent leadership, not politics as usual. Electing Independent Senators is the answer.

NF: Did not answer.

What is the biggest problem facing Delaware, and how would you solve it?

CC: Did not answer.

LW: Upward economic mobility is the biggest issue facing Delawareans. Without good jobs, good wagers, and strong unions, Delaware has become an undesirable place for young people to stay and raise families. It’s time to stop offshoring our jobs, disrespecting our unions, importing immigrants en masse to take the jobs that remain and drive down our wages, and focus on bringing these jobs back to Delaware.

MT: Delaware has been suffering from a lack of new businesses entering the market place for many years. We now have a chance to attract renewable car companies and supporting manufacturing plus general manufacturing to offer our citizens good paying steady employment. I would work with local leadership to develop the proper strategies to attract and retain these companies in Delaware by supporting businesses looking to re-locate or build facilities in Delaware.

NF: Did not answer.

What would you like to see done differently in regard to COVID-19?

CC: Did not answer.

LW: Now that the scientists at the World Health Organization have confirmed that lockdowns are dangerous, it’s time to end the COVID lockdowns which have always been excessive and obviously ineffectual, and allow Delawareans to get back to work and resume their lives as normal.

MT: We need better transparency with the medical information concerning COVID-19. There has been far too much politicizing of the medical information versus getting the facts in front of the people. State government officials appear to be making decisions in line with a political agenda versus what is truly best for the people. At this point I would hold round table meetings with medical personnel, business leaders and city leaders to determine the best direction forward.

NF: Did not answer.

How should our health care system change in response to coronavirus?

CC: We must ensure that our workers have the essential PPE they need to be safe and effective at their jobs. We must also ensure that state and local governments have the level of support they need from the federal government to treat every person that seeks care, while ensuring that racial disparities influencing the level and outcome of treatments are addressed from the top. It is imperative that we continue to protect and expand upon the ACA, so that every sick individual has the coverage they need to be treated and cared for, without fear of being refused care. We also need to ensure that community health centers receive funding to provide preventive health care that all Delaware families need.

LW: Free market healthcare, which should be available to purchase across state lines like car insurance, will always be cheaper and more effective than government mandated health insurance.

MT: We need our states and localities to be far more prepared for issues like this. Working hand in hand as a US Senator with our state and city leaders to develop preparedness plans including supplies and medications would be a top priority.

NF: Did not answer.

What do you believe schools should do to educate students while keeping people safe from COVID-19?

CC: Right now, families across our state are struggling with the challenging decision about whether to send their children to school or keep them home. They are also struggling with how to help their kids be successful in remote learning, while balancing jobs and other family commitments and needs. For many children, schools are more than classrooms. They are safe places where they have access to meals, health services, counselors, and support. I continue to fight to make sure that our schools, state government, and families have the resources they need to meet the unique challenges of this pandemic, including training for staff, access to technology, reliable internet service, nutrition programs, and more.

There is still so much we do not know or understand about this virus. That’s why I called for a broad and comprehensive pediatric study, so that we can accurately assess the potential threat this virus poses to our children and make decisions based in science.

LW: The World Health Organization has now made it clear: lockdowns are dangerous, and perhaps even more dangerous than COVID itself. It’s time for our students to return to school, taking precautions that they would normally take to stop them from getting sick, like washing their hands frequently. If students and teachers want to wear masks, I don’t plan to stop them, but I do not support mask mandates on any level.

MT: Our schools need to reopen safely protecting the students, teachers and staff. That may mean remote learning for a period of time and reopening once it is determined to be safe for all stakeholders.

NF: Did not answer.

What should the government do to help both businesses and workers right now?

CC: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began threatening our country early this year, I’ve worked day and night to help protect Delawareans from this virus and help our economy weather the economic fallout it has caused.

I’ve worked with my colleagues in Congress to pass several trillion dollars’ worth of economic aid, from direct assistance to families in need and enhanced unemployment benefits, to grants and loans to small businesses in need. Those measures have allowed us to avoid another Great Depression, and they’ve saved businesses throughout the country. But there’s more work that we have to get done.

I’m fighting to provide continued, needed assistance for small businesses that are still struggling to stay afloat, and I’m also working hard to extend unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans, while also working to actively prevent evictions and homelessness. Solving these issues, however, requires a public health solution, and that’s why I’m doing everything I can to expand our nation’s testing capacity and help ensure that when a vaccine is developed, we’re able to quickly and safely manufacture it here in the United States for everyone who needs it.

I’m also working to ensure that the federal government provides desperately needed support to state and local governments – and the teachers, first responders, and other critical employees they employ. Finally, I am doing everything I can to ensure that everyone is able to safely and securely participate in our elections this fall, by providing the funding and resources necessary to allow all citizens to vote by mail.

LW: Congress should stop trying to pack a stimulus bill full of pork, and instead pass a clean bill providing relief funds directly to individuals and small businesses.

MT: Another relief package is needed right now. Congress should work together to create the proper financial relief package versus working against each other. One of my platform points is passing a Balanced Federal Budget Amendment. If we were already working under a balanced federal budget including contingency plans for emergencies we would have funding readily available for emergencies like today. Because we are constantly working in a deficit mode, we cannot see a clear path to providing financial help to those in need during a situation like we are in today.

NF: Did not answer.

What do you think of the current level of government spending?

CC: I believe we need a federal budget that reflects the needs and values of our country. We need to keep our commitments to seniors and others who depend on Social Security and Medicare. We need to bring down our national debt and spending, but in a strategic manner that reflects the pressing needs of American families, state and local governments, and small business owners in this pandemic.

LW: The federal government spends far too much money — most of it on ineffectual programs federal government programs that should be handled on a state level — and could be handled much for effectively at the state level.

MT: One of my top platform points is a Balanced Federal Budget Amendment. Our spending at the Federal level today is out of control. The amount of waste, fraud and financial abuse in all of our federal government programs needs to be bought under control. We have Inspector Generals and staff placed within all Federal programs but they are not tasked properly and the reporting structure is misaligned. Cleaning up programs, scrutinizing spending and gaining control of our finances, as a country will lead to a stable path to prosperity for our nation.

NF: Did not answer.

Would you support gun control measures?

CC: Thoughts and prayers are not enough. I’m proud to have been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, the Giffords PAC, and Brady United, because I am committed to passing responsible legislation to keep our communities and citizens safe. I am also proud to be a Gun Sense Candidate and to work with members of the Moms Demand Action Delaware Chapter to pass critical legislation in Washington and in Dover.

I am leading efforts to truly enforce our existing background check laws through the NCIS Denial Notification Act, a bill that will ensure that any time a prohibited person lies on a background check form and tries to buy a gun, law enforcement is notified. This short bill would close a gaping loophole in 34 states, including Delaware. I am also sponsoring several important, current gun safety measures including S.3065, the Safe Gun Storage Act of 2019; S.184, the Gun Violence Prevention Research Act; S.1831, 3D Printed Gun Safety Act of 2019; S.42, the Background Check Expansion Act; and S. 66, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.

LW: No.

MT: I support the 2nd Amendment and the right to own firearms. I would look at our laws and policies restricting ownership of those deemed unable to make sensible decisions about the use and ownership of firearms to make sure they make sense and are enforceable.

NF: Did not answer.

What changes are needed to policing and the criminal justice system?

CC: I first became involved in social justice as a young man, advocating for the homeless and working to end Apartheid in South Africa, because I believe in a just world for all. I’ve spent much of my adult and elected life supporting Civil Rights legislation and initiatives, and I am deeply committed to continuing to do so, particularly when it comes to policing and criminal justice reform in America.

That’s why I am an original co-sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act, which makes lynching a federal hate crime, ends racial profiling, enhances the ability of prosecutors to bring federal charges against police officers who criminally violate Americans’ constitutional rights, and helps the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division investigate systematic police misconduct. I also support Vice President Joe Biden’s plans, which include preventing crime while focusing on economic justice, eliminating racial disparities and ensuring fair sentences, offering second chances and focusing on rehabilitative services, reducing violence in our communities and supporting survivors and ending for profit prisons.

LW: We need to support our law enforcement as they face danger every day in our streets, especially during the violent riots which have consumed our cities — including Wilmington where Senator Coons marched with AntiFa and Black Lives Matter — for the past five months.

MT: Our law enforcement officers face dangerous split second decisions on a day-to-day basis. Our policing policies are evolving and becoming more transparent. It would be my stance to keep the pressure on our law enforcement agencies to police their internal issues along with offering transparency of their policies and practices.

NF: Did not answer.

What do you make of the state of race relations in the US and particularly Delaware?

CC: For too long, our nation has left unaddressed systemic inequities stemming from the original sin of this nation — slavery — and that is nationally and in Delaware, which was actually one of the last states to end slavery in 1865.

We must confront the injustices that are rooted deep in our society and institutions and provide for economic justice, so that Black and Brown families can create generation wealth, and eliminate biases in our criminal justice, healthcare, education, and government bodies.

LW: By slandering anyone who supports closed borders or less immigration as a “racist” or a “white nationalist,” the institutions of media, academia, and even some government institutions, are directly responsible for stoking racial tensions across America. The real strife is between Americans of all colors and creeds who have been disregarded by a plutocratic elitist class in Washington who have left us behind in favor of their own special interests.

MT: In business and in my personal life I work hand in hand with all people. Race is a nonissue as I develop relationships in life. It would be my stance we all as Americans take a similar approach to race relationships and continue to build a country for all. I do realize there are people of all types who harbor ill will against those of other races. This practice is unacceptable in our society today and will not be tolerated as we move forward.

NF: Did not answer.

How would you summarize President Donald Trump’s tenure?

CC: Divisive, destructive, and disappointing.

LW: President Trump has delivered on his promises to put American workers first, restored a booming economy before the COVID pandemic hit and will do it again, is working to close our borders as promised, and has not expanded the foreign conflicts in the Middle East. He has been very successful in his first term, and I’m looking forward to an even better second term.

MT: I believe President Trump brought a business approach to government, which was sorely needed. The approach he brought to our economic concerns has stimulated growth, jobs and prosperity to the entire country. I do wish he would tone down the political rhetoric and stick to running the country, but I also understand the need to defend himself and his policies from attack.

NF: Did not answer.

Are you concerned about the legitimacy of the 2020 elections?

CC: I am concerned about President Trump’s attempts to suppress the vote by manipulating the USPS and ignoring on-going attempts of foreign governments and actors to influence our elections. I and my colleagues in the United States Congress are working diligently to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure their legitimacy.

LW: Mail-In-Voting certainly has its challenges, and we’ve seen numerous cases of ballots being misallocated or not making it to their intended location already, and I’m encouraging Delawareans and all Americans to make every effort possible to vote in person on Election Day.

MT: Mail in voting appears to have administrative flaws as more and more reports of improprieties surface. It is certainly concerning to all of us running for office but more importantly it is concerning for all of us wanted a fair and legitimate election. We need to make our polling locations safe for all to use on Nov. 3 and respect the rights of those who cannot get to the polls to use the absentee ballot system.

NF: Did not answer.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?

CC: I am running for reelection and ask that you visit our site, chriscoons.com to learn more about our campaign and vote early. Prior experience includes graduating from Yale Divinity School and Yale Law School, working for companies and nonprofits and being elected New Castle Council president and executive.

LW: Senator Coons’ net worth has increased by millions of dollars since he took office in 2010. He has failed to campaign in Delaware to make his case for re-election this year. He has even decided that his constituents do not deserve to hear him debate me on the issues that affect us all. I believe that Delawareans and the American working class are tired of career politicians like Senator Coons, and would prefer that an ordinary American like me represents their interests in the Senate.

MT: Reflected in my platform are policies and directions I believe we need to take to assure our government is working for “we the people” versus the two main political parties and their leaders. Term limits for Congress is the fix we need to eliminate career politicians. I have committed to honor term limits by only serving two terms should I be elected. I have also committed to supporting and moving forward with a Balanced Federal Budget Amendment. Included also in my platform is the need for true campaign finance eliminating dark and PAC money form influencing voters and elections.

Today we need PUBLIC SERVANTS, not more politicians in all levels of government.

NF: Did not answer.