The Republican and Democratic candidates running for Delaware’s lone seat in the U.S. House couldn’t be more different.
Democrat John Carney is running for his third term in Congress. “We need members who are going to roll up their sleeves, roll across the aisle, and focus on the middle class,” said Carney, in an interview at Delaware Democratic Party headquarters in New Castle.
In the past two election cycles, Republican Rose Izzo made a run for the seat. Each time she was defeated in the Republican primary. This year, she is in the running as the party’s nominee in the general election after running unopposed in the primary.
“Basically, I’m running because we’re in an economic disaster. We have a high number of unemployed, homeless, hungry people in America,” Izzo said.
In previous campaigns, Izzo used some creative methods to get attention. Those methods included posting campaign videos on YouTube that featured the candidate firing a machine gun in a shooting range.
Little else is known about Izzo outside of those videos, and she wasn’t very forthcoming about her past during an interview with WHYY at a diner on Rt. 202 in Wilmington.
“I’m an average citizen. I’m the CEO of my house. I know how to balance a budget, much like every citizen in Delaware,” Izzo said. “The fact is here I am, I’m standing up, I am giving them a voice through me.”
When asked about what qualifications voters should consider when voting for her, Izzo replied, “According to the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2, that makes me qualified to run for this office.”
For those who don’t know the Constitution by chapter and verse, that clause states:
“No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”
Izzo and Carney have drastically differing ideas on the need for members of Congress to work together. Carney said finding common ground has been a theme for his two terms in Congress.
“What we need to address the problems facing the country, frankly, are more moderate voices, voices of members who are willing to seize kind of the middle ground where most Americans are, by the way, and most Delawareans.”
“Gridlock is good. That means that you, the taxpayer and me, the taxpayer don’t get screwed,” said Izzo. So if Congress got nothing done? “That’s okay,” she said.
Carney’s normal placid demeanor was replaced by incredulity when asked about Izzo’s thoughts on gridlock.
“I don’t accept that argument at all, and completely reject that,” he said. “If Delawareans want someone to do that, to carry some banner on some ideological principle, they shouldn’t vote for me, cause that’s not the approach that I take. That’s not what I think Delawareans want, that’s certainly not what I hear from my constituents. And I talk to people very conservative, very liberal who say, why can’t you guys just get something done?”
The two candidates also have very different ideas about the biggest foreign policy issue facing Congress.
For the Republican Izzo, illegal immigration is foreign policy issue number one. “I think the biggest problem for us is the fact that we have open borders,” she said. “We have illegals coming across, we have criminals, we have terrorists, drug pushers, and they’re coming across without any concern or threat of being stopped.” She said her solution would be to seal the borders and enforce existing laws.
Carney’s biggest foreign policy concern is the threat of ISIL. “It is a threat. An immediate threat to the U.S. today? No, but if we don’t stop them and degrade them as the President says, and ultimately destroy them there in Syria and Iraq, then we will be dealing with them at our border.”
Carney and Izzo agree on the need to grow jobs, but how they plan to do that is a different story.
Carney said he’s been working to save existing jobs. “We’ve been working hard on a piece of legislation that would create an exemption in the Affordable Care Act to protect 500 jobs here in our state,” Carney said. “In order to get anything done in the House – Republicans are in control – I’ve got to work with the other side. I was able to work with my friends on the other side to get it passed in the House and I hope to get it through the Senate in the lame duck.”
For Izzo, unemployment is a direct result of high taxes. “It’s all because of high income tax, high state tax, corporate tax, high renewable energy tax, high energy surplus tax, surcharge and gross receipts tax. If we can get this under control, and it stems from Washington, we can definitely create jobs.”
Voters may experience a bit of dèjà vu at the polls next month.
In addition to Izzo and Carney, Libertarian Scott Gesty and Green Party candidate Bernie August are also on the November ballot. Both Gesty and August challenged Congressman Carney for his seat in the General Election in 2012.
Rose Izzo was also in the running for the House in 2012, but she lost in the Republican primary to Tom Kovach.
With three out of the four same candidates back on the ballot, it’s worth a look back at the 2012 results. Carney won nearly 65 percent of the vote in 2012. Factoring in Delaware’s Democratic majority, Carney’s challengers have a tough road ahead.
Despite that, never say never. Consider what happened to Congressman Mike Castle, who held this seat for nine terms, before being upset by Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell in the 2010 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
The latest University of Delaware poll shows that scenario highly unlikely to repeat itself though. Carney holds a big lead with 52 percent over Izzo who received just 17 percent, according to the late September poll.
On Wednesday, the Univeristy of Delaware announced that Izzo had withdrawn from a debate on the school’s Newark campus scheduled for next week.
Voters will decide between Carney, Izzo, Gesty and August on Nov. 4.