Letter to the Editor: Markells endorse Coons for Senate

We write as a husband and wife who’ve known Sen. Chris Coons for more than 30 years. We were all in our 20s when we first met, but it became immediately clear to both of us that Chris would be an incredibly positive force in Delaware for a long time to come. And he has been exactly that.

Beyond his extraordinary intellect and passion for serving others, Sen. Coons has demonstrated over and over an ability to stand up to President Donald Trump, while simultaneously working across the aisle to advance truly progressive causes.

On some of the most important votes the Senate has taken up in the Trump era, Coons has been a strong vote against the president, including voting for his impeachment and against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Coons has opposed Trump on issues ranging from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ management of student loans, to Trump taking action against Iran without congressional approval, to advocating for humanitarian aid at the U.S./Mexico border and much more. And, both Democrats and Republicans alike in the Senate can attest to the efficacy of Coons and his ability to get bipartisan support for important legislation.

Consider three of the most important issues of our day:

• Regarding criminal justice reform, Coons has teamed up with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to introduce a bill that would put an end to the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for nonpayment of debt, via the Driving for Opportunity Act 2020. This bill is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, and is similar to one passed by a bipartisan group of legislators in Delaware several years ago.

• On the highly charged issue of climate change, Sen. Coons teamed up with U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., to launch the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. Coons has stated clearly that climate change is “one of the most pressing issues of our time” and is determined to find a legislative path to fight this critical issue. In Braun, he found someone who calls himself a true conservationist, and while they may approach the issue from different perspectives, they are partners determined to find real solutions for Americans and our global community. It’s no wonder that Coons has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others.

• Further, Sen. Coons has been highlighting the importance of national service for over 30 years — largely as a result of his own experience working with the homeless in New York City during the 1980s and his work fighting against apartheid with Bishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa. Consequently, Coons is partnering with both Democratic and Republican senators across the U.S. to sponsor the CORPS Act, a bill that would significantly expand national service programs and opportunities for Americans to serve.

It’s clear to all observers that Republican senators have been very hesitant to cross President Trump for fear of his wrath. Yet, just as the most progressive senators have partnered with Sen. Coons, a fierce Trump critic and proud Democrat, Republicans too have sought him as a partner in the Senate. That’s because Coons knows how to bring people together and get things done, just like his partner in the Senate, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and his predecessor Joe Biden. Coons knows that the people of Delaware want and need a leader who can deliver on tough, critical issues, whether it’s criminal justice reform, climate change, national service or any other important issue. And that leader is Sen. Coons, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

We have been proud of and honored by our friendship with Sen. Coons, for more than three decades. Today, we are delighted that the rest of the state — and indeed the rest of the country — has had the opportunity to get to know him over the last several years, as well, both as a man who stands up for what he believes is right no matter the consequences, and a man who can bring people together around the most important issues of our time.

We look forward to voting for and reelecting Sen. Coons as our U.S. senator from Delaware, and we hope that you will vote for him, too, during the Sept. 15 Democratic primary. Please, let’s send him back to Congress, so he can keep fighting and delivering for our great state and families!

Jack and Carla Markell
Former governor and first lady of Delaware, 2009-17