This is the ninth part of a ten-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, role of government is the largest slice of the pie, worth 14 points.
This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.
In this instance, I’m providing an overview of how I see the candidate serving as a member of the House or Senate. As has been the case in each of my revised parts, I’m working through the Republicans for House and Senate first, followed by the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and incumbent Democrats last.
Lee Murphy (R) (House)
Lee is a very lucky guy. I don’t see him as a doctrinaire conservative; fortunately, in getting through the primary, running right down the center stripe made Lee look like the second coming of Ronald Reagan and that was good enough for Delaware Republicans. But then again…
One thing I did prior to writing this part was to look up where Lee stood on issues two years ago when he had a primary against a guy who had run as a Democrat two years prior and nailed illegal signs to trees, and lost. (I like that the internet is forever and he recycled the “gomurph” website. Because of this, I’ve supplemented some previous parts of this over the weekend.) I think he’s shifted a little bit to the left between 2018 and 2020.
As a Congressman, Lee would likely be one of those who we would like for about half his votes and wonder what he was thinking with the other half, particularly with the environmental issues. If he’s fortunate enough to prevail, he almost seems to me like a short-timer who would maybe get through a term or two, not passing anything that would be memorable for how it brought government to heel as it needs to be. In reading his platform and interacting with his campaign, Lee doesn’t come across as the stout conservative we need but more as the Republican whose most agreeable vote every two years may well be for Speaker of the House. 5 points out of 14.
Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)
Compared to her primary opponent and his questionable overtures toward limited government in citing the Constitution, we know where Lauren Witzke stands. She fits squarely into the mold of the “big-government conservative” and that strain of populism needs to be eyed suspiciously and kept in check wherever possible.
Those who inhabit Lauren’s corner of the political world are unapologetic about using government to achieve their ends, which to them justifies the means. If the size of the welfare program doesn’t change but the focus shifts to rewarding a different type of behavior, such as having kids in wedlock instead of out of wedlock, it’s considered a success.
This has always been an argument I fail to comprehend: a politician like Lauren believes the government is spending the money regardless of whether it achieves the goals of social conservatives, isolationists, and other strains of populist or not, so we are better off in spending it our way. Of course, the third option they don’t consider is that of bringing government closer to the people by letting states decide how they want to address issues (and spending less in the meantime.) Given their long-term decline in population, perhaps states in the Rust Belt would be very amenable to the style of family-friendly incentives Lauren is proposing at a federal level – something a place like Texas or Florida may not wish to embrace. But one size fits all to Uncle Sam, amirite?
I get that Lauren’s electoral strategy is to nationalize the race by tying herself to Donald Trump and advocating for his no-holds-barred approach to government. It’s just how Trump picked up the union blue-collar vote nationally and how Lauren hopes to spring the upset by attracting the union Democrats who help run New Castle County. It might just work, but is this what America needs in the long run? 4 points out of 14.
David Rogers (L) (House)
Because information on him has been so scarce and hard to come up with, it’s hard to get a good picture of Rogers and his run. My impression of the Libertarian Party has been that there is a left-libertarian side and a right-libertarian side, and Rogers seems to be more toward the left based on what I have found him to say. If he were to win, I believe he would exhibit the worst aspects of the Libertarian Party, the part which seems to forget that this experiment in liberty was meant for a population with a mature morality, not one seeing liberty as a license to avoid responsibility. 3 points out of 14.
Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)
The one thing that intrigues me about Nadine is that she is a pro-life libertarian, which to me represents the right-libertarian side of the coin I alluded to with Rogers above. I don’t think I would agree with her on every issue, but out of all the Senate candidates I believe she has the best idea of the role of government. Anyone who calls to repeal every law that involves “victimless crimes” but adds, “If states want to keep pursuing them that’s their right (see Amendment 10), but the Feds need to go home” has figured this out. 12 points out of 14.
Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)
Purcell is perhaps the most intriguing candidate in the race, and I suppose if you believe it’s an asset that she can’t be pinned down in terms of political philosophy then she would be a winner. I see everything from Qanon citations to ideas which are well left of center in her social media, so she is a definite wild card. I think she would be somewhat to the moderate left side, but if she would caucus with the GOP and be the dogged investigator she holds herself out to be, that would be beneficial. Then again, there’s always room for such a talent in journalism. 7 points out of 14.
Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)
Mark is trying to portray himself as a moderate who would work with the best ideas from both sides. My problem with that, of course, is twofold: the Left has no ideas that don’t involve additional federal government control and those who inhabit the middle of the road get run over. I also think that the idea of him benefitting his line of work – which is renewable energy – would be counterproductive to our goal of a thriving economy. So he doesn’t score well in this category. 2 points out of 14.
Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)
The fact she has dropped her issues page for her 2020 run and has continually touted the fact she is the first minority female Congressional representative in Delaware history tells me that she is coasting on name recognition.
Yet the person who’s supposed to be representing all of Delaware regularly speaks to issues that divide us, working harder for certain races, genders, and privileged groups than others. Perhaps she’s a good person, but I believe we can do a lot better because she’s not representing the best interests of this state. 0 points out of 14.
Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)
In one way, I think Chris seems to get his traditional role as Senator. His calling in political life seems to be that of getting the federal government to cover up for the mistakes the governance of his home state makes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to get the disconnect between the failure of the state government and the needed reform of the federal government, which can’t happen because “orange man bad.” On issue after issue, he fails the productive people of Delaware – however, the small bit he does in fulfilling his role gives him the meager score I will grant him. 1 point out of 14.
House: Murphy 31.5, CSP 24, Rogers 16.5, LBR 3.5.
Senate: Frost 41.5, Witzke 40.5, Turley 8.5, Coons 2.
With that, I have nearly reached the end of my look at these candidates. It’s comprehensive to be sure, but there are other things which have slipped through the cracks that I consider as part of my final piece: the intangibles.