Barney and Townsend trade barbs over mailer


DOVER — Two Democrats running for the U.S. House are feuding over claims about who deserves credit for increasing the state’s minimum wage.

At issue is a mailer from Sean Barney’s campaign that says “Only one candidate for Congress helped raise the minimum wage AND expand Medicare Part D to cover seniors’ prescription drugs.” Some say that statement could be read as though none of the other candidates for the office have advocated for raising the wage floor.

Sean Barney

Sean Barney

State Sen. Bryan Townsend’s campaign accused Mr. Barney of twisting facts and taking credit for something it says he was not involved in, while Mr. Barney’s campaign retorted that the Townsend campaign is selectively ignoring history.

The Townsend campaign noted that Sen. Townsend voted twice to raise the state’s minimum wage. The legislation was passed in January 2014, after Mr. Barney left Gov. Jack Markell’s office.

Rep. Edward Osienski, a supporter of Sen. Townsend, said in a statement “Sean Barney had no involvement in those efforts, while Bryan Townsend was a driving force.” Both lawmakers are Newark Democrats.

The Barney campaign said Mr. Barney was a “consistent advocate” of the proposal while he was an adviser to the governor and noted the “AND” in the mailer makes it factually accurate.

“It’s funny how when Bryan disagrees with something the Markell administration has done and thinks it will help him score political points, he says, as policy director to the governor, Sean was responsible for it, but when he supports what the Markell administration did, he says Sean had nothing to do with it. It’s politics as usual,” the campaign said.

Bryan Townsend

Bryan Townsend

Mr. Barney’s mailer also claimed Sen. Townsend opposes Mr. Barney’s plan to expand Social Security into two parts. One portion, as explained by the New America Foundation, which Mr. Barney has cited, would create a new flat benefit funded by “revenues other than the payroll tax.”

Sen. Townsend does have his own plan for expanding Social Security, and, like Mr. Barney, he supports lifting the cap on the payroll tax.

Mr. Barney was criticized in the spring by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, who accused him of overemphasizing his role in passing gun background-check legislation.

The primary is Sept. 13.

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