Delaware Democrats for House debate issues at Widener [video]

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Five of six Democrats running to replace Congressman John Carney took part in a debate at Widener University’s Delaware Law School Friday morning.

The debate was quite cordial with little if any back and forth between candidates. Democrats Sean Barney, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Mike Miller, Bryan Townsend, and Scott Walker all took part in the debate sponsored by WHYY and WDEL Radio. A sixth Democratic candidate, Elias Weir did not respond to an invitation to take part.

The starkest differences came when the candidates were asked what it was that separated them from their opponents. 

Sean Barney says it’s his plans on social security that sets him apart. “I put a very specific plan forward to create Social Security Part B and increase basic benefits by $11,699, and to entirely lift the payroll tax to pay for it,” Barney said. “My other opponents have not embraced that plan.”

According to Brian Towsend, the difference-maker is his position on campaign finance. “We’re not just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk,” Townsend said of his campaign. He says he’s the one candidate primarily funded by Delaware supporters, most of whom donate $100 or less. “That’s the exact kind of way our Democracy should be driven, from the grassroots, not from Super PACs, not from out of state money, not from big self loans, but from the people that you seek to represent.”

Lisa Blunt Bradley says she’s different from her opponents because of her experience. “I’ve had over 25 years of actual experience, running major organizations to non-profit on the ground organizations and been a mom.”

Scott Walker is different than his opponents for his desire to ban guns. Walker also opposes any plans to increase the minimum wage. “When you increase the minimum wage you increase unemployment. It’s documented,” Walker said. “You increase unemployment, you increase crime.”

Mike Miller separated himself from Barney, Townsend and Blunt Rochester, but aligned with Walker’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage. “The state of Delaware and the country can’t afford $15 an hour,” Miller said. “You’re going to put small businesses out of business.” 

You can see the debate in its entirety on WHYY-TV at 5 p.m. Friday night and again at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11. The debate will also be available online at

Voters will make their selection on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Hans Reigle, Green Party candidate Mark Perri and Libertarian Party candidate Scott Gesty.

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