With the general election less than two months away, it may come as a surprise to some that many primaries for state and local offices have not yet happened in some parts of the country. One such state is Delaware, where incumbent Senator Chris Coons faces a tough challenge from the left in his primary on September 15th. The Republican Delaware Senate Primary is led by firebrand Lauren Witzke who continues to rally mass appeal to many voters both north and south of the canal.
Delaware is often thought of as a reliably blue state, with a strong history of unions and African Americans making up a quarter of the states population. However, as was shown in 2016, the white working class has had a mass exodus from the left in recent years and could put the state in play down-ballot.
Chris Coons — the Democrat incumbent — has represented Delaware since 2010 when he was elected to fill Joe Biden’s vacancy. Coons has a moderate appeal and voted in favor of many of President Trump’s cabinet and judicial appointees. He has also voted for a Trump-era bill to deregulate banks, something that is important to voters in Delaware and fought across the aisle to preserve the filibuster rule in the Senate.
With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise in this era of hyper-partisanship that many registered Democrats are unhappy with such an advocate of bipartisan agreement. Enter Jess Scarane, a tech worker and social justice advocate from Wilmington. She is running in a similar vein as ‘the squad’ of progressive and far-left Democrats. Her platform includes Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, Reparations to African Americans for Slavery, and more. You can read her full platform here.
A poll from last November showed that Chris Coons underperforms against a more liberal female democrat (36-32%). While this was before Scarane even announced, it will be no easy fight for Coons this Tuesday.
In the Republican race for Senate, Lauren Witzke of Delmar has been fighting and winning an uphill battle against the Delaware GOP, as she prepares for the general election. After the Republican Party was routed in the midterm elections two years ago, Lauren Witzke has burst onto the scene fighting to restore good-paying union jobs, legislate a 10-year moratorium on immigration, and to end both abortion and the forever wars in the Middle East.
Her top priority is working towards a solution to the opioid crisis. As of 2018, Delaware had the highest rate of opioid deaths in the United States. Having been through recovery for opioids herself, this issue is very personal to Lauren. She strongly supports federal funding of faith-based recovery programs, which have a high success rate.
Despite her massive popularity, the Delaware GOP did not endorse her for the Delaware Senate Primary. Nevertheless, she continues to gain a following, and Coons will be facing a revitalized conservative movement in Delaware after this primary is over.
While this Senate seat is rarely mentioned as one that’s expected to flip, people ought to pay more attention. Chris Coons is facing a revolt from the left among registered democrats, something that has worked out very well for progressives, notably AOC. Meanwhile, the workers and farmers that the Democrats used to fight for are now flipping in favor of Witzke. The state of Delaware trended 7 points to the right in 2016 and should become more competitive over time. No matter the results on Tuesday, this will certainly be an interesting race to watch in the coming months.