2020 federal dossier: Foreign Policy

This is the seventh part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, foreign policy is worth 12 points. I have three parts remaining before I reveal how the Republican candidates have scored so far.

It ties in well with the previous categories of immigration and trade, but to me foreign policy is more than that. As long as we have troops in harm’s way, support of the military will be a key aspect of our desired policy as well as a stance that considers our interests first, not the vague wishes of some global organization. I’d like us to be a nation which treats its friends like royalty and isn’t afraid to spit in the eye of our enemies.

It’s perhaps not surprising that I have only received the most meaningful input from our Senatorial candidates since they have the most to do with foreign policy in terms of approving treaties and such. However, the House is important as well because they are supposed to have the power of the purse.

So let’s start on this road, and it works out that my two “America First” candidates go first.

Matthew Morris (House)

At the tail end of his issues page, Matthew thunders, “We have to put an end to Globalist interests that are taking away from the American Dream, and that starts with putting AMERICA FIRST.” I just wish I knew what he meant: does he agree in lockstep with my next aspirant?

Yet he has a softer side too, noting the other day his willingness to extend foreign aid to victims of disaster like the luckless people who were affected by the Beirut explosion.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Lauren is advocating for a very isolationist foreign policy, to wit: “Our military will be strengthened but used strictly for the defense of our nation at home. She will not support meddling in the affairs of foreign nations, and rejects regime change abroad. Foreign aid will be ended except in the events of natural disasters, and funds will be re-diverted towards Family Restoration efforts and American infrastructure.” Another way she puts it: ending the “forever wars.”

However, there is a contradiction there to something else she’s noted on social media: “Christianity is increasingly under attack in the United States and Europe. When I’m in the U.S. Senate, these attacks will not be taken lightly!” In the case of Europe, isn’t that meddling in their affairs?

Look, I’m actually for defunding the UN (and not our police departments, as she’s also written) but either you’re hands off or you’re the world’s policeman. Our foreign policy over the last 80 years or so has tended toward the latter thanks to our involvement in “entangling alliances” like NATO and others.

I give Lauren mad credit for one thing, though: she knows who the enemy is in more ways than one: “If Chris Coons and his Democrat allies weren’t busy crafting their fake ‘Russian Collusion’ narratives, our lawmakers could have focused on the real national threat from China, which has cost us not only the lives of 80,000 (at the time she wrote it, now closer to double that) Americans but untold trillions of dollars in economic damage.”

Lee Murphy (House)

I have gone through most of what I have seen from Lee and haven’t found a comment on the issue. I’m sure he has opinions to share, though.

James DeMartino (Senate)

In looking at DeMartino’s approach, I get the impression it’s “steady as she goes.”

I think he edges more toward the “world’s policeman” side, though. While he begins by saying, “We must continually maintain the strongest, best equipped and trained military in the world,” he then notes, “As a country, we must provide world leadership to protect human rights worldwide and reduce the horrific occurrence of human trafficking.”

It seems to me dealing with human trafficking is a job for law enforcement, a place where international cooperation would do us good. But is that enough of a priority that it gets mentioned so prominently?

He adds, “We must support our allies around the world and continue to strengthen our bonds of freedom, democracy and humanity with Israel.” I can agree with that one.

I also believe I heard James extolling his military and legal background as being advantageous for dealing with treaties, which indeed is a Senate job in the rare case they get one to address. So there is that, too.

We are closing in on the final three categories in this federal sweepstakes. The next one I have is entitlements. Sure, the people want Social Security and Medicare fixed but have these fine folks spoken out about it?

2020 federal dossier: Immigration

This is the sixth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, immigration is worth 11 points.

In perhaps the most extreme category so far, this subject has been the main focus of one of my Republican candidates, yet basically ignored by another. This study in contrasts should make for an interesting file within the dossier.

Over the last sixty years we have gradually opened up the spigots on immigration after a comparative freeze during the middle of the twentieth century – a time we were preoccupied by war and economic depression. But reforms in 1965 and 1986 have created a ping-pong ball of sorts as we bounce between the interests of Democrats (as well as their GOP-backing Chamber of Commerce allies) who want more free and unfettered immigration against the border hawks who want to secure the borders and limit the influx, whether as a pause or more permanently – returning closer to a stance we had after our large wave of immigration in the early 1900s when we became very selective about who got in.

So what do the Republicans running here in Delaware think? (Eventually they’ll be joined by the rest on the ballot.) Again, the order is randomized but it worked out well in this case.

Matthew Morris (House)

Having a relatively sparse website and focusing most on other issues like prison reform and the opioid crisis, I really haven’t seen where Matthew stands on immigration. Like any of the candidates, he is certainly welcome to let me know privately or publicly by leaving a comment here.

Lee Murphy (House)

What Matthew has to contend with is an interesting hodgepodge of ideas made on Lee’s issues page, where he states, “Congress has shirked their responsibility to find a permanent solution to our nation’s Border Crisis. I will support Customs and Border Patrol and ICE in their efforts to protect our sovereignty. I will support legislation that addresses the visa, permanent resident, and citizenship issues of those who wish to pledge allegiance to our nation legally. We must stop politicizing this national crisis.”

As I noted up top, Congress has “shirked their responsibility” because the issue has been a ping-pong ball for a half-century. Supporting Customs, Border Patrol, and ICE is nice (and necessary) but the second part of the statement leads me to believe Lee is in the “pathway to citizenship” camp that would reward those who came illegally at the expense of those who came the correct way as well as encourage more illegal border crossings – while the southern border has the reputation for being the conduit for illegal immigrants, in reality the larger proportion are those who overstay their visas. In either case, a path to citizenship should begin by them returning home.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Honestly I could write half the night on Lauren and immigration. Sometimes I think she does.

Ask yourself, though: how many candidates for office in Delaware take a field trip to the Mexican border? She has. So to say this is her primary issue would be to sound like Captain Obvious.

Some of her ideas: a full 10-year moratorium on immigration, meaning we net zero immigrants (so immigants equal emigrants – although that number of emigrants will supposedly be pretty high if Trump wins again), ending DACA and commencing the deportation of DACA recipients, ending chain migration and birthright citizenship, and placing more restrictions on work visas. The result, she claims, would be that, “Delawareans and the rest of America will see a rise in wages, and American college students will compete in the labor market without being put at a massive disadvantage. This plan relies on the basic principles of supply and demand, and common sense. Beltway elites seem to understand neither.”

Obviously this is a harder line than most in Congress would take, so I imagine progress on her agenda would be slow and may take multiple election cycles as the Senate only changes partially each time. But then again, perhaps it’s time someone drags things in that direction.

James DeMartino (Senate)

Perhaps knowing his competition, Jim has this as his immigration platform: “We are a nation of immigrants. As Americans we all benefit from each other’s skills and culture resulting in today’s America, the greatest country in the world. That is why our borders are flooded with foreign nationals. However, to protect our culture, our citizens and our way of life, we have immigration laws. These laws are designed to protect our country and our citizen’s health, welfare and businesses. The law must be enforced! Controlling our borders, supporting the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is imperative. The United States is a sovereign country and must not allow open borders.”

The problem with this statement is that I don’t see the “fierce resistance” to amnesty that Lauren seems to have. Perhaps it’s a break for James that the Wuhan flu and BLM strife has pushed immigration aside as a key issue, but there are still many millions who would like to see a more America-centered resolution than what we’re being presented with here. It’s very pale pastels compared to Witzke’s bright colors.

Again, I’m looking at a rather sparse subpart to the dossier next as we consider foreign policy. Despite the fact our actual military operations may be winding down, we have a lot of adversaries to contend with and I want to know how they prefer to deal with them.

2020 federal dossier: Energy and Taxation

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, energy is worth 7 points and taxation is worth 10 points.

In returning to my dossier series after a week away, I have run into a couple of my problem children. Seeing that the candidates don’t seem to be as concerned about these issues as I am and wishing to kick start this process back up, I opted to combine the two categories into one post. I’ll begin with energy, which was supposed to be one of last week’s topics but it turns out that no one really gets into the subject. (If a candidate does, it’s either not on their site or it’s part of a much longer-form interview.)

So I asked the questions directly of the candidates: in the case of energy I wanted to know their takes on renewables, offshore drilling, and ethanol subsidies. To date I have received responses from the House contenders but not the Senate ones. I’ll again go in random order, but some will be very short.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I have not received a response to any of my questions from the DeMartino campaign, which is unfortunate because much of what he speaks to about issues ranges between boilerplate and platitudes. Must be the lawyer in him, but for me it’s frustrating.

Matthew Morris (House)

While I’m sure he’s not going to fully embrace the Green New Deal, in his (rather lengthy) response to my query, he noted that, “When it comes to renewable energy, I am most liberal in my views. The planet is a living organism and we are but small parasites.” Making the case that he could reach across party lines, Morris believed he could, “create an alliance in the preservation of our planet and renewable energy.”

The other departure from GOP orthodoxy came in his opposition to energy exploration, calling offshore drilling and expanded fracking, “unnecessary at this point, especially if we have the resources to end it.” Of course, the problem with that approach is that we need more resources to replace those which become less economically viable. I’m not sure I understand the logic, but then again Morris argues that, “the only reason people have bought into the ideology is because they’ve been manipulated by big oil.”

As we all know, I prefer my energy cheap and reliable. If Big Oil can give me that I’m perfectly happy with it. The planet is pretty resilient.

Lee Murphy (House)

Based on his answer I suspect we may learn more about the Murphy plan should he win the primary, but I believe he’s trying to appease the middle with the campaign’s response, “(T)rust us when we tell you that Lee Murphy is the most evolved Republican in the state with his desire for a clean environment through incentives, not regulations and imposed costs. He wants all of us to be able to drink from the rivers in Delaware, which will take a while, even with Lee’s kind of leadership.”

In and of itself, that’s interesting. But I wonder if he’s tilting himself too far in the balance between energy and environment, similarly to Morris. I also noticed Lee’s campaign doesn’t actually address energy issues as presented, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that the “information” he has will also address energy in some manner.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Although Lauren has been active on social media, this isn’t a topic which she’s addressed directly. However, I seem to have a more open line of communication with her campaign so I may well yet have an answer. I have my hunch how it may play out, but I will hold the prediction in abeyance for now.

Now I’m going to switch gears and tackle taxation.

My initial query has been along the lines of thoughts on the Trump tax cuts, but the only short answer I received so far has come from Matthew Morris, who noted, “Trump’s tax cuts have their pros and cons. I have an absolute understanding the working middle class will always get the brunt of the taxation because they’re the majority by a landslide.” (He also added later his desire to legalize marijuana, which would presumably be used as a small revenue source as well.)

The bulge in the middle is true when it comes to the present situation, but the recent passing of Herman Cain reminds us there are other revenue ideas out there besides Mary Jane. Cain was most famous for the 9-9-9 plan, which was a combination where the income tax rate for all payers, the business tax rate, and a national sales tax would all be 9%. Presumably the belief was that the lower income tax rate would put more take-home money in paychecks, the lower business tax rate would improve profitability and encourage investment, and any resulting shortfall to the federal treasury would be made up by the new sales tax, which would add $9 to an item costing $100. (This is a similar idea to the FairTax, which has long been a consumption-based tax proposal.) Cain’s hybrid system would have limited the dependence of the government on income tax and spread the burden more equally as opposed to the steeply progressive and complicated tax system we have now.

So I would love to have the candidates enhance their take on it, either by message or by comment here.

With the exception of one quarter, I have no shortage of information on the next topic, which will be immigration.

2020 federal dossier: Trade and Job Creation

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, trade and job creation is worth 9 points.

According to the Caesar Rodney Institute, which defines itself as a “Delaware non-profit committed to protecting individual liberty,” the state’s economic status is in a long-term decline, so this category is important for our federal legislators to keep in mind. They obviously have input on our trade policy and hopefully are in tune with the idea that government can create the conditions which enhance opportunity. (Aside from limited jobs in creating and maintaining federal infrastructure, the government seldom creates jobs with actual value like, say, an oil derrick worker, a guy on the line at Jeep, or an architect who works with the private sector.)

Once again I’m doing this in a random order, with Republicans first in line and, once the primary is over, those representing other parties on the Delaware ballot.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Out of all she has said on the subject (and there is a lot!) there are two lines which I think best sum up her philosophy:

“Get me to Washington to ensure we rebuild American industrial might and promote FAIR trade! Let’s Make America Great Again and put America and her workers first!”

“I commit to supporting our unions, their right to collective bargaining, and incentivizing companies to hire American.”

Let’s look at these one at a time. I believe in free trade, but to make trade truly free we have to get it to be fair first. To do that, we need to have sensible tariffs until an overall balance is reached. While that may smack of protectionism, the idea is that we use the time to build up our competitiveness, not coast and make Trabants. Where we need the cattle prod is to insure improvement – if companies want to be part of the American rebirth, they must work quickly to be competitive.

Where I definitely part with Lauren is her blind support of organized labor. I believe in the right to work because it’s proven to be a job creator (companies prefer to locate in right-to-work states and jurisdictions) and it makes the union sell itself to the employees – they have to give a good reason and return on investment to workers who can forgo membership in an open shop. There are unions in right-to-work states so some must succeed in convincing employees and employers that they are fair bargaining agents.

I think a national right-to-work law would be a good thing, but it is an overreach on state’s rights. By the same token, there should be no federal prohibition on the right for states to mandate open shops.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I think James embodies a very sensible approach with his statement:

“I will work to create an environment that promotes free enterprise and not hinder growth with excessive and stifling regulations that add to the cost of doing business. Regulations must be streamlined so business can run their business and not continually file government licenses, documents and reports. I will continually discuss with the Governor and State Legislators their needs to promote business growth and expansion within Delaware from technology and infrastructure to development of Port Wilmington as a vibrant and safe port facility.  I will ensure farmers are provided the latest and greatest agriculture enhancements to maximize their output and returns.”

Philosophically it’s very close to the mark; now all we need is more specifics on various items. My only nitpick may be that streamlining regulations (and improving broadband, which he has also brought up) is as much incumbent on the state as it is the federal government, since that rising tide of eliminating regulation on a federal level would lift all the boats, not just ours.

Matthew Morris (House)

In reading through Matthew’s philosophy, it sounds a little bit like Lauren’s – he blames outsourcing for many of our problems. “I’m proposing that these big corporations, they’re going to have to pay a tax if they’re going to outsource their jobs to these foreign companies,” said Morris on social media. “I can’t stress it enough. We need to put America first.” He also vows to bring aquaculture, farming, and manufacturing back to Delaware. (I can vouch for the fact farming never left Slower Lower. Just sit in my living room and watch the traffic go by on my rural road. Or just watch the soybeans and corn grow and the irrigation system circle around. Or walk outside when the wind is the wrong direction and say “smells like Delaware.”)

Anyway, this is something I don’t think people who blame outsourcing think about: why do foreign manufacturers make cars here? Because we have a mature and prosperous market. We can’t just say in a blanket fashion that all outsourcing is bad because foreign companies outsource here, too – indeed, we should try to reclaim what we lost to China, but there are incentives we can present to encourage that may work more effectively than threats to browbeat.

Lee Murphy (House)

Lee doesn’t stray too far from conventional wisdom here, calling for an end to unnecessary regulations and more tax cuts. Pretty standard stuff. He does make the point that, “(i)nstead of passing minimum wage legislation, I will work tirelessly to bring real jobs back to Delaware.” The problem is that he’s left things really open-ended, although I suspect if prodded he can expand farther on these points. If he realizes that the true minimum wage is zero because it’s a job that was never created, then we may be on to something.

I’m going to gather a little more information, so the next part may be circling back to energy issues or pressing forward to my next intended part, taxation. Whichever one comes first, it will probably arrive around midweek.

2020 federal dossier: Social Issues

This is the third part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, social issues are worth 8 points.

In days past, I used to consider two aspects when it came to social issues: abortion and gay “marriage.” Unfortunately, the former is still with us and the latter is supposedly “settled law.” (I look at both Roe v. Wade and the Obergefell decision as “settled” in the same vein as the Dred Scott decision or Plessy v. Ferguson were.) So this became more of an abortion question, although one candidate in this field in particular has a deep concern about other issues regarding families.

This was such a rich vein of information that I didn’t need to ask the candidates anything. All the information is gleaned from their websites and social media. Once again, I am presenting this in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

To be perfectly honest, given the trajectory of his campaign and his opponent, this was more of a response to her in as innocent of platitudes as possible than a real stance on social issues. DeMartino states, “The foundation of a strong civilized society is the family. A strong family unit will reduce the ever-growing request for government services. I will propose and support appropriate legislation that will strengthen families financially and incentivize multi-generational households. We must respect, protect and care for our seniors, our youth and the unborn.  Our children require care, guidance and direction from parents not from government agencies.”

He is right in the sense that the family is a foundation, but what I don’t see is the specifics as to how he would help. To some, the idea of strengthening families financially can mean a tax handout when the better solution to me would be to restore the conditions where Mom could stay home with the kids and not be forced to work for the family to survive financially. This would also allow kids to get the “care, guidance, and direction” DeMartino desires.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

This is one of Lauren’s bread-and-butter issues, to a point where she has said way more on the subject than I can summarize in a few paragraphs. Maybe the best way to put it is her saying, “the American Family has been put on the back burner. It has been sacrificed to turn every American into an economic unit, who lives not to serve his or her family or God, but to serve his or her employer and the false idol of GDP…Lauren will pass legislation to further incentivize marriage and child-bearing, thus increasing American birthrates and rebuilding our culture to center it around the American Family.”

So let’s look at this idea. Lauren has noted the example of Hungary, which has created its own incentives for marriage and childbearing with some success. I think it’s a noble idea, but there are two issues I have with it: first of all, it’s not a legitimate function of government at any level to dictate child-bearing (witness the outcry over the years about China’s one-child policy, which led to millions of abortions) nor should the incentives be based on an income tax – more on that in a future edition of the dossier.

It’s been argued that we can’t legislate morality. Witzke also backs a Constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion, which would be the extent of federal involvement I might favor. Until such an amendment is passed – and I’m not holding my breath on that one – abortion should be a state issue.

Lee Murphy (House)

Murphy states right up front, “I am pro-life.” And then he tells me what he is not: “Democrats are advocating for late-term abortion. They are okay with ending a baby’s life at seven, eight and nine months of pregnancy, or even after a child is born. I strongly disagree.”

The slower go comes from this statement, “We should instead provide support to mothers and their families facing hardship, and ensure they have the resources necessary to choose life.” This, to me, puts the federal government in a role in which they don’t really belong. I can buy this a little bit more if he were running for state office – which Lee has a few times over his long, uphill political career – but this is another case where money = strings and I don’t support those.

Matthew Morris (House)

Matthew has engaged with folks on social media regarding this subject, and he has a considerably different take. While Matthew argues he is pro-life, he hides his pro-choice view behind a fig leaf, claiming, “I believe as a man, I do not have a say on this issue.” If you are a defender of life, indeed you do. Perhaps part of that comes from his sexuality, noting “As a gay man, I don’t want people telling me what I can and can not do with my body. It’s just a really touchy subject.”

The trouble I have with that philosophy in the case of abortion is that (in the vast, vast majority of cases) the choice was already made, and another life was created. I believe “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are phrased that way for a reason: you can’t pursue happiness without liberty, and you can’t have liberty without life. So a woman isn’t just choosing her liberty, but also denying the liberty of the baby inside her. If she doesn’t feel she can take care of the child, there are alternatives readily available that would maintain the child’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness with a willing set of parents.

This take is made even more different when he calls for, “Nuclear families, proper resources for implementing pro-social behavioral learning, and funding for community centers to be able to ensure the children growing up in fatherless homes are taken care of as well.” (He grew up in such a home.) Again, this is a more appropriate state-level “ask” than a federal one.

The next portion of this deep dive will look at the topics of trade and job creation.

2020 federal dossier: Second Amendment

This is the second part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, the Second Amendment is worth 6 points. This evening I will place a post at the top with a link to each part of the 2020 dossier series as I place them.

We can almost recite this from memory: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But what are we defining as infringements, and how do Delaware’s candidates look at the issue?

To a person, they will tell you they support the Second Amendment but what do they really mean? Hopefully I will bring a little bit of clarity to this with my post. As I did with education, I’m beginning with the four GOP candidates then working the others on the ballot in after the primary.

Each of them available to me via social media was asked: Since we all want “common sense gun laws,” what would you change about federal gun laws to make them “common sense?” Again, this will be presented in a random order.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Witzke is very expressive about 2A rights, and has a photo on her social media posing with what I’m assuming is an AR-15 or similar weapon. Moreover, she thunders, “The Second Amendment is not up for negotiation. It’s not a bargaining chip to be used by lawmakers to cut deals.” She also correctly states that thanks to the Second Amendment, “our citizenry has the tools to defend itself against rogue tyrants or an overbearing government.”

Unlike her cohorts, she has a strict pledge that she “will vote against every measure that seeks to restrict the Second Amendment, and will pass legislation to take back Americans’ gun rights that have already been usurped by feckless lawmakers of the past.” The second part is really the phrase that pays, although right now she probably doesn’t have enough help to play along in the Senate.

Matthew Morris (House)

Interestingly enough, Morris is the only one of the four Republicans without a specific Second Amendment area on his website. So when I asked him his thoughts, he stated that, “When it comes to 2A you should be able to carry across state lines with no problem. A thorough and rigorous background (check) should be conducted for a federal carry permit.”

Of course, that begs the followup question about whether these same checks should be in place for purchasing weapons; however, I can see merit in the idea of a federal carry permit. Unfortunately, states don’t treat concealed carry permits like they treat driver’s licenses, which are valid wherever you go in the country.

James DeMartino (Senate)

DeMartino has pledged to put up “fierce resistance” to those who would surrender our Second Amendment rights, “like Senator Chris Coons.” Now I know the guy is a former Marine but I don’t know just how fierce the resistance is to moms demanding action. That’s the million-dollar question.

Lee Murphy (House)

Murphy agrees with the platitudes previously expressed regarding protection of the Second Amendment. But he also adds an interesting wrinkle in that, “we should address the root causes of violence and crime in our communities.” I’m not sure if there’s not a troubling implication here that the guns are part of the problem.

A gun is an inanimate tool until someone loads it, picks it up, points it at someone, and fires. All these steps must be followed for criminal gun violence. I think the old adage that “an armed society is a polite society” comes into play here since the vast majority of gun owners have probably never fired their weapon outside of a range and those who have were likely hunting.

I don’t think any of these fine folks will be the same sort of gun grabber that seems to incessantly populate the Democrat side of the aisle. What I’m still seeking clarity on, though, is how well they will fight to regain what we’ve already lost.

My next part was supposed to consider energy issues, which are something not every candidate features on their website or social media. Because of that, I’ll wait a bit to do that part and instead focus on something our candidates are not shy about: social issues.

2020 federal dossier: Education

This is the first part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, education is worth 5 points.

Today I’m comparing and contrasting the four GOP hopefuls for federal office from Delaware on the subject of education. How do they conform to what really needs to occur to improve the educational system? (After the primary, I will supplement this post with the remaining candidates.)

To do the research, I went through each candidate’s website and social media. They were also all asked the following question (with minor variations):

Pretend it’s 2026, you’re running for re-election, and they have followed your prescriptions for the American educational system to a T. How does the system compare to the way it is now, and how did you get them there?

Out of the four Republican federal candidates, I received answers back from three, Matthew Morris, Lauren Witzke, and Lee Murphy. The same question has been asked to the Libertarian and IPOD candidates who are active on social media with campaign sites; but I won’t use their answers until later. (I can basically guess what the platform of the Democrats will be and I don’t like it, so I won’t bother with them.)

The following is a summary of their published platforms, their social media comments, and their direct answers. So as not to advantage one over another, candidates will be presented in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

James portrays himself as “a proponent of home schooling, private and charter schools,” adding that, “The best education is determined and implemented at the local level.” These are admirable goals.

But the problem I begin to run into is when he talks about reducing bureaucracy, improving educational requirements, and teacher support. As a Senator, I’m not sure how he can do this but what I am afraid of is that he will simply call to increase federal aid, which invariably comes with strings attached for everything. Adding these strings in the past has led to the increased bureaucracy.

And shouldn’t teacher support and educational requirements be more of a local and state issue? If I’m to take him at face value – and at the moment I have little choice because this is all he’s said on the subject – then I don’t see him as much improvement over the status quo, let alone moving in the direction we need to go.

Lee Murphy (House)

One thing I found out in asking Lee about his educational stance is that he used to be a teacher, and he “loved it.” So there is that perspective, even if he may be a few years removed.

But he would work to eliminate the federal Department of Education and work to help states like Delaware adopt vouchers and school choice. However, he cautioned that, “You cannot dismantle the entire education and start over, tempting as that is. But Lee is nothing if not realistic. He would do away with Common Core tomorrow, and would empower teachers to do what they do best, and that is to teach!” (I’m presuming that his campaign manager wrote the note, which explains the third person reference.) I think he has a realistic approach, but an aggressive one at the same time.

Matthew Morris (House)

Conversely, in looking at what Matthew wants, there’s not a lot to suggest improvement to the status quo. He wants to “work with educators” and “decrease class sizes” but that’s not a federal job. And what bothers me most is his saying he’s in favor of “providing solid legislation to provide our schools with the proper funding to adequately provide our children with resources to improve their education.” So he’ll throw federal money at the problems.

In directly answering my question, Matthew said that, “our children have received exceptional education.” I disagree.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Lauren’s position is one I love philosophically, but I’m not so sure the practical solution is at hand. She doesn’t believe in platitudes, telling me the public school system “has become an overwhelmed institution that has forsaken classical education and become indoctrination.” Additionally, she calls for the conservative side to “stand firm, and re-engage at all educational levels and areas to stop this radical deconstruction of our nation’s history to suit their draconian narratives.”

Her promise, as expressed in her answer to my question, is to “make it easier for parents to homeschool their children and support charter and private schools.” But then I go back to my criticism of her opponent and note that the federal money comes with strings on everything. Without the assurance that she would go the extra step and truly work to bring things to a local level I can’t completely embrace her ideas. But out of the GOP Senate field she is head and shoulders the better in her approach.

She even scored better when she stated “funding should follow the child” in a more recent post.

As I said, this is just the beginning. The next part will look at a cherished right: the Second Amendment.

DelGov: Shea withdraws, throws backing to Murray

The race for Delaware governor got a little less crowded today as GOP aspirant Neil Shea, “with a heavy heart,” announced he was leaving. In a social media post, Shea stated:

It is with a heavy heart and due to unforeseen circumstances, I have to withdraw from my campaign for the Governor. This has been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life and watching so many people get involved gives me faith in our future for Delaware. Now is the time for more young people to step up and get involved in politics to preserve their destinies down the road. The division that has grown between friends, neighbors and families needs to be corrected in a way that we can spread some message of joy. Remember, tough times don’t last – but tough people do. Thank you all for your support, God bless you.

Neil Shea, July 1, 2020

In a later response to comments, Shea said of fellow contestant Julianne Murray, “Very very bright and has a great plan.”

Back in May Shea was the first to officially file as a Republican challenger to incumbent governor John Carney, who has drawn fire from the business community about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Delaware is one of the slower states to emerge from the self-imposed shutdown, a state of emergency first declared by Carney back in March and extended on a monthly basis since. Since then, in order of filing, the GOP race has drawn businessman David Bosco of Greenwood, state Senator Bryant Richardson of Seaford, and attorney Julianne Murray, also of Seaford. Recently state Senator Colin Bonini of Camden-Wyoming announced his entry, but he has yet to file with less than two weeks remaining before the July 14 deadline.

Shea’s departure changes the race in two ways: he was the only Republican candidate in the race from vote-rich New Castle County, and it leaves two non-politicians in the race against two current officeholders. Neil was also part of a trio of Millennials making their first bid for public office in a statewide race; along with U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke and U.S. House hopeful Matthew Morris, this year’s GOP race has drawn new, younger faces.

Arguably, Shea was the leader in gaining name recognition besides Senator Bonini. He was definitely a contender for the nomination, with a platform stressing the reopening of the state after the Wuhan flu peaked. Hopefully he will remain as a voice in the campaign.

With four entries remaining, it’s the most crowded Delaware GOP gubernatorial primary in years, if not ever. We’ll see if any others shake out before the primary.