Delaware treasurer hopefuls Barney and Simpler trade barbs

Within hours of the close of Tuesday’s primary elections, the candidates running for Delaware treasurer began exchanging jabs.

Ninety minutes after polls closed, the campaign manager for Democratic Party nominee Sean Barney emailed a news release addressing Ken Simpler’s win in the Republican primary.

“Delawareans face a real choice, between Sean Barney’s record of mainstream leadership and public service and Ken Simpler’s right-wing approach of comparing seniors on Medicare to bank robbers,” said Barney Campaign Manager Andrew Wilson, who cited an editorial Simpler wrote during the last election cycle in Feb. 2012. “Ken Simpler wrote that seniors on Medicare were stealing from drug companies.”

Through the Affordable Care Act, the federal government subsidizes prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare.

“That sort of Tea Party politics is the last thing we need in Delaware,” Wilson said in response to Simpler’s editorial.

Simpler said he was disappointed that his opponent’s first communication in the race was a “negative, political twisting of some words I once wrote.”

“My opponent is unfamiliar with Delaware tradition, since he’s only lived here a few short years, but I’d like to restore some civility and substance to our political contests. Delawareans deserve more than cheap-shot politics,” Simpler fired back in an emailed statement.

“There’s nothing cheap or negative about talking about the issues and what people believe,” said Barney during an interview with WHYY’s “First” this week. “And for voters to make an intelligent choice about who they want at that table, who they want being a voice for them, they need to know what we believe as candidates.” 

Throughout his campaign, Simpler boasted about his lengthy career spent investing money and dealing with financial matters in his role as chief financial officer of Rehoboth-based Seaboard Hotels. 

“Do you want the billions in your tax dollars that flow through the Treasurer’s office managed by someone like myself with 20 years experience successfully managing money, or by my opponent, who has no experience at all?” Simpler asked.

Barney countered if a hedge fund position was available, then having a hedge fund expert makes sense. But the Democratic candidate said the state treasurer’s office is about much more than being a “day trader-in-chief.”

“I have advised Sen. [Tom] Carper on economic and budgetary policy… I’ve been at the table as Gov. Jack Markell’s policy director working with 16 cabinet secretaries to coordinate and move policy forward,” Barney said. “That’s the kind of background one needs to bring if one wants to recognize the full potential of this office to make a difference in people’s lives. 

Barney and Simpler will square off on Nov. 4 in the general election. 

WHYY’s interivew with Sean Barney will appear this Friday on First at 5:30 p.m. An interview with challenger Ken Simpler appeared last week and can be viewed at whyy.org/first.

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