Delaware Republican Arlett launches campaign for U.S. Senate

Republican Rob Arlett announces his campaign for U.S. Senate in Wilmington. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Republican Rob Arlett announces his campaign for U.S. Senate in Wilmington. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett announced his campaign for U.S. Senate on Monday during the traditional three-county tour of Delaware.

At his first stop in Wilmington, Arlett was joined by about 30 supporters in a small park along the Christina River.

“We are running because it’s time to bring youth and leadership back into the great state of Delaware,” said Arlett said. “We want to represent the people back in Washington. It’s time for the next generation.”

Arlett is 51 — 20 years younger than incumbent Democrat Tom Carper, who is seeking his fourth six-year Senate term.

Arlett added that employment is a major priority for him. “We need all Americans, all Delawareans [to have] the opportunity to find a job,” he said.

Arlett derided Carper as a career politician who has been in Washington long enough. “We need elected officials there that are going to focus back on the people — not just partisan politics,” Arlett said.

Carper was first elected to the Senate in 2000 after serving two terms as Delaware’s governor. Prior to being elected governor, Carper held Delaware’s lone seat in the U.S. House for five terms starting in 1983, and had served as state treasurer.

Arlett accused Carper and fellow Delaware U.S. Senator Chris Coons, also a Democrat, of casting strict party line votes. “I’m not your party guy, I’m not your political guy, I’m a people guy. That’s why we’re here, that’s what this campaign is all about,” he said.

Arlett was elected to Sussex County Council in 2014 after moving from Virginia to Delaware in 2005 to start a real estate business. He was the chairman of President Trump’s Delaware campaign in 2016, but was hesitant to discuss issues where he would vote against GOP or President Trump.

“As we move forward we’re going to get into the strategies, get into the policies. That’s not going to be today. I can tell you right now there’s going to be plenty,” he said.

When pressed further, Arlett said an area where he would vote independently of the party would be immigration. But he does support Trump’s plan to build a wall at the Mexican border — with one major caveat.

“I support the wall with a door,” he said. “That door, we welcome those who desire to be here so long as they follow the process. So if we need to change the process, which I think we do, then let’s change that process.”

Arlett got support from Wilmington attorney Tom Neuberger, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Carper in the 1986 U.S. House race.

“We need people who are committed to exalting righteousness, people who are ready to stand up against a progressivism which will only result in the persecution ultimately of all of our grandchildren when they do not bow their knee to the progressive doctrines,” Neuberger said.

“Our children are a generation away from being persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ, for owning a Bible. We need people who are ready to stand up for that. We need people who are ready to stand up for jobs and restoring Delaware.”

Carper is also facing a challenge in the September primary from fellow Democrat Kerri Evelyn Harris. The Air Force veteran most recently has worked as program director for Achievement Matters, a group working to close the educational achievement gap.

Carper also had a Democratic primary challenge in 2012, but he easily defeated Keith Spanarelli with 88 percent of the vote. He went on to win re-election in 2012 over Republican Kevin Wade with 66 percent of the vote.

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