Primary elections: US House GOP candidate surveys

The Delaware State News presents profiles on the Republican candidates for U.S. House of Representatives. There is no Democratic primary for this office:

Name: Matthew M. Hathaway Morris
Age: 34
Residence: North Wilmington
Family: Single
Relevant experience: Community activism, chairing town hall meeting, lifetime of community service, very active in making change.

Name: Lee H. Murphy
Age: 68
Residence: Wilmington
Family: Three children and four grandchildren
Relevant experience: Hard-working family man who understands the issues faced by people up and down the state. Been actively involved in community (president of church parish council and civic association, big brother in Big Brothers and Sisters program) and in politics (ran for State Senate and Congress previously). Have worked as a teacher, coach, locomotive train engineer, conductor and actor.

Why are you running for this seat?

MM: For the past three years I have been out on the streets, in the communities, and I haven’t seen our congresswoman anywhere to be found. Delaware has risen to the second highest state in overdoses -related deaths and after doing my research, our congresswoman sits on the committee that has been sitting on legislation holding up funding to our state.

LM: Your representative in Congress should be someone who can relate to the issues and concerns of Delawareans. I have lived my entire adult life in Delaware, raised a family, been a teacher and coach here, had a 35-year career with Amtrak as a conductor and locomotive engineer on high -peed passenger trains between New York and DC, been a union member, and now enjoy a professional acting career (“House of Cards”).

My family has been impacted by the drug/opioid addiction crisis and I am determined to turn that around in Delaware. I have run for Senate District 1 twice and have been actively involved in politics since 1984. I do not seek a career in politics and have pledged to term limits. I will go to DC to work for all of Delaware – on that, you have my word.

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

MM: The division of our nation through a lack of honest, transparency, and get-rich-quick politics.

LM: Economy and jobs. My first goal would be to protect the all-important agricultural industry and to bring manufacturing jobs back to Delaware to reignite our state economy after COVID-19. I will begin by drafting legislation to incentivize pharmaceutical manufacturing to leave China, where it poses a national security risk, and return to Delaware.

Safety and security, supporting the Constitution, particularly the Second Amendment. I support border security and a strong military. All families deserve to live in a safe environment. To that end, I support law enforcement, while identifying and eradicating racial injustice to alleviate any distrust of the police.

Drug/opioid/addiction. Delaware is disproportionately impacted by the drug/opioid epidemic. I will work to ensure that Delaware gets its fair share of the federal funds earmarked for the crisis in order to implement a two-pronged solution: prevention on the front-end, and long-term treatment (including the construction of the first long-term care facility in Delaware) for those ready to get help on the back end.

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

MM: Big corporate health care providers need to be held accountable for gouging numbers.

LM: I have had COVID and am now a convalescent plasma donor, a very promising approach to helping others recover from the virus. I urge everyone who has been infected to contact the Delmarva Blood Bank to donate. Hospitals need to better coordinate with blood banks to make sure that those who have recovered from COVID are referred to plasma donor facilities.

I am not a medical doctor or a disease specialist so I would enlist the help of medical experts and health care system leaders as they learn about the transmission and risks of this virus and implement these improvements in their facilities. There seem to be a variety of longer-term side effects of the virus and associated pneumonia, so I believe that insurance policies ought to include flexible pre-existing condition coverage for COVID.

I believe that each individual is best suited to make their own decisions, once armed with the best information available from their health care providers, about keeping themselves, their families, and the most vulnerable safe. To that end, I believe that the use of Telemed and real-time sharing of the patient’s medical and health information with health care professionals is one of the most important improvements to our health care system in response to COVID.

In terms of health care coverage, a healthy, vibrant economy enables people to earn an income to support a healthy lifestyle and choose the type of privately available medical insurance that best suits the needs of their family. A healthy economy also supports the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The private health care insurance industry is made better by competition, resulting in a menu of better priced choices, from policies that cover routine checkups to those that cover catastrophic events. Cooperatives and health-share programs such as Liberty Healthshare are great examples of how competition can lower costs, reduce restrictions to a provider network, and keep health care decisions between a patient and their doctor.

As a member of Congress, I will support legislation that encourages interstate competition in the health care industry, and international availability of lower-cost prescription drugs. A significant part of the adequate healthcare challenge, however, occurs at the state level. In Delaware, for example, Certificates of Need limit competition, reduce access to care, and raise prices. I would work with state officials to revamp or replace this program.

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

MM: This is a catch-22. Many parents do not have the abilities to home school their children. And under these conditions, our school systems need to do what is right for the families most affected. It’s just unrealistic to force families out of work.

LM: I began my career as a school teacher and coach in Wilmington, Delaware, so I believe I understand this issue. Schools must reopen and our children must go back to school. I believe it is harmful and much more unhealthy — mentally, physically, socially, nutritionally — for our children to be prevented from going back to school. Local and state governments, in conjunction with schools, teachers and parents, should set their own standards and policies for our children’s education, including safely reopening schools.

Hybrid models can be considered, with on-line options for the most vulnerable educators and for those subjects that can be effectively taught on-line. Suggestions offered by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics for safely re-opening schools include limiting adults allowed in schools, including parents, and canceling group activities like choir and assemblies. Staggered arrival and dismissal times, outdoor classes, and keeping kids in the same classroom all day are other options. But local decisions are best.

Teachers tell me that one-size-fits-all re-opening plans, and federal standards such as Common Core and No Child Left Behind, do not support teachers in doing what they do best: inspire and teach. Finally, I support school choice; families should decide where and how their children will get the best education possible.

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

MM: Small business needed to be a priority instead of giving billions of dollars to corporations.

LM: The answer to this question involves a working partnership between Congress and state government. Delaware had 0.0% economic growth in 2019, the lowest in the country, even before the excessive shutdown in response to COVID-19, so the state has some work to do. State leaders need to allow businesses to safely reopen and allow our children to go back to school so their parents can return to work. They must cut bureaucratic red tape, reduce corporate income tax rates and energy costs, and improve schools.

In Congress, I will identify and support ‘Opportunity Zones” in Delaware. I will work with the President to pass legislation that would incentivize manufacturing to leave China, where it poses a national security risk, and come to Delaware, creating high-paying jobs that will grow Delaware and increase tax revenues for important programs. I will support payroll tax cuts and legislation that protects the all-important agricultural industry in Delaware.

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

MM: I have no comment.

LM: Government spending is out of control, which unfairly burdens our future generations. State and local spending, which accounts for nearly half of all spending, must be reviewed by each state individually. During a crisis, when people lose their jobs and livelihood through government-led shutdowns through no fault of their own, however, the government must make them whole. This is another reason for state, local and federal governments to support a healthy, robust economy, so that we can survive emergencies such as these.

All discretionary federal government spending that is not needed for the defense and survival of the country should be cut; too much spending is wasteful and is politically motivated.

The vast majority of federal spending is mandatory, however, and is on programs I support, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIPs, with their fraction of total federal spending expected to rise. Net interest on debt is also a sizeable expenditure, which would increase significantly with inflation. These programs are under great stress, however, and need to be redesigned or they will fail.

A strong economy generates more tax revenues even at reduced tax rates and will offset the deficit generated by excessive spending, so I would support measures that allow the economy and labor force to thrive. I would cut redundant or unnecessary discretionary spending, then pass legislation to reduce it by a fixed percent each year until federal spending is under control and our debt levels manageable.

Finally, “balanced budget” resolutions are not the solution to rampant federal government spending because this objective could be met simply by raising taxes rather than reducing wasteful, inefficient or politically motivated spending.

Would you support gun control measures?

MM: Absolutely NOT. EVERY American has the right to protect their home and their property as they deemed fit. Most importantly, our Second Amendment laws were out in place to protect our nation from tyranny. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

LM: I support the 2nd Amendment as written. Until recently, those deemed “mentally defective” were prohibited from owning guns which, though understandable from a public safety perspective, may be a violation of their constitutional rights. Congress should carefully study possible restrictions on the purchase of guns only by those individuals who clearly display risk factors for violence, including risk of suicide, which accounts for half of all U.S. gun violence. The challenges in balancing protecting one’s constitutional rights with ensuring public safety are described well in “Mental Illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy,” by Swanson et.al., Annals of Epidemiology (2015).

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

MM: First and foremost, comprehensive pro-social behavior programming needs to be implemented alongside of extensive re-entry programs. In addition, sentencing structures need to change and not be limited to a mandatory minimum or maximum sentencing structure. Situational instances need to be taken into consideration. We need to reduce recidivism. It is costing American tax dollars more money every year to harbor inmates than it does to put them through comprehensive treatment to reduce recidivism. It’s bad business acumen if you ask me.

LM: I am proud to support the men and women of law enforcement in this country. Law and order is essential for maintaining a civil society where all families can safely go about their lives. A recent poll by the Gallup Center on Black Voices showed that both Black (81 %) and white (80%) Americans want police to maintain their presence in their neighborhoods. The same poll, however, showed that 61% of Black Americans are confident that an encounter with police will go well, compared to 85% across all groups nationally. We must gather hard data on complaints against the police to better understand and alleviate the distrust of the police by some in the African-American community.

I support the creation of a national database that tracks abusive officers as an important first step toward that reform. I support meaningful reform to the criminal justice system at both the state and federal levels. At the state level, I support re-training and assimilation programs such as those led by Dr. Darrel Miller of the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, and by Firm Foundation, the 12-step Christian-based addiction recovery program. At the federal level, I applaud The First Step Act, the culmination of a bipartisan effort to reduce the federal prison population and to redress unjust incarceration and provide meaningful second chances for those leaving prison, while also creating mechanisms to maintain public safety.

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

MM: If our leaders stepped up for unity and not division we wouldn’t have the issues we have. But they continue to perpetuate this great divide for political gains and it is disgusting. Using a particular race to fuel division for votes is immoral and a sin.

LM: I am personally opposed to discrimination of any kind and have lived my life accordingly. I treat all people with dignity and respect. As your congressman, I want to hear of any unlawful discrimination and I will work tirelessly to eradicate it here in Delaware.

I think it is important to point out that I believe we all have more in common in Delaware than differences. Families in Delaware have told me that they are concerned with the same things, regardless of race: jobs, the health and welfare of their family and their children and, especially of late, safety from violence and crime. It pains me to see the division that our state and our country are experiencing today. Those that foment this divide for political or economic gain should be ashamed of themselves.

Are you concerned about the legitimacy of the 2020 elections?

MM: I’m concerned with the legitimacy of elections ALL TOGETHER.

LM: Yes, I believe vote-by-mail, as currently envisioned and instituted by most states, is a threat to the integrity of the voting process and that voting in person and absentee balloting are much less susceptible to rampant voter fraud.

How would you summarize President Donald Trump’s tenure?

MM: His policies are ideal, his personality, well I’m not surprised. He’s a businessman from New York City. If he could do less on Twitter and social media he’d be exceptional in his approval ratings. However, he says what needs to be said sometimes and I respect him for that. At the end of the day being raised in a military family, I was taught to respect our commander in chief.

LM: President Trump’s policies have been great for the United States. President Trump’s policies enabled the strongest economy we have ever seen and the lowest unemployment rates among all groups, which is helping us to get through the COVID crisis much better than we would have had we entered it with a weak economy. Our country is more secure than ever, with the deep state, terrorism and the threat represented by China identified and weakened, and the USMCA has replaced the disastrous NAFTA and strengthened trade with other nations.

Do you have any additional thoughts you wish to share?

MM: Before I am a Republican, I am an American., Before I am a man, I am my mother and my father’s child, and before I am my parent’s child, I am a child of God. All of which I have listed are labels.

We all have one. We have to stop looking at people’s labels and learn to look into their hearts. I am not running for office because I want to or I need to fill a void. I am running for office because I believe I have what it takes to stand for the people, and share my life experiences to benefit the people. That, I truly can and will make a difference. Not a single congressman has lived through the experiences I have and for that, we can make America not just great, but LOVE again.

LM: Did not answer.