Democrat Jessica Scarane challenging U.S. Sen. Chris Coons from the left

Jessica Scarane

Democratic candidate Jessica Scarane says Sen. Chris Coons works too well with Republicans. She’s launched a primary campaign to unseat him. (Courtesy Scarane campaign)

Jessica Scarane officially launched her primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware on Monday. She’s challenging Coons who has been in the Senate since 2010.

“Delaware deserves better, and that’s why I’m running,” Scarane said. “We need to hold true to our values as Democrats.” She pointed to Coons’ votes confirming President Trump’s cabinet and judicial nominees as signs he’s too chummy with Republicans.

“He has repeatedly made compromises with Republicans at the expense of Delawareans,” she said.

She adds it was Coons’ support for Alex Azar as Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services as a key moment in her decision to mount her primary challenge. “This is a man who has lobbied for Big Pharma and who is opposed to abortion rights,” she said. “That’s just unacceptable to me, and it made me realize that we have to be the leaders we’re looking for to change this power structure ourselves.”

Coons defended his efforts to work across the aisle in an email statement to WHYY. “I’m proud to be a Delaware Democrat and to fight for our principles,” Coons said. “That means challenging President Trump and his allies in Congress when they run afoul of our most basic values as a nation, but I’m also someone who works across the aisle to get done what we can in this environment to make our state and our community stronger.”

Coons said he looks forward to the election process of listening to voters “to make sure I’m reflecting our values and priorities.”

Coons was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 after serving as New Castle County Executive. He easily defeated a surprising opponent, political neophyte Christine O’Donnell. The Tea Party favorite O’Donnell shocked the world of Delaware politics when she defeated nine term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Castle. She painted Castle in a similar way Scarane is trying to paint Coons, as too willing to compromise with the other side.

This is Scarane’s first campaign for office. The 34-year-old is director of business strategy for interactive marketing firm the Archer Group. But it’s her work outside of her day job that she says is most relevant to her campaign. Scarane is board president of Girls Inc. of Delaware. The nonprofit group works to help girls develop into strong, smart and bold women. “In that role, one of the key elements is also being an advocate for girls at a state level when it comes to passing laws that protect their rights,” Scarane said.

Scarane’s platform includes support for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and a $15 federal minimum wage. She said the national conversation about those issues among the Democrats running for president helps to show that they are not fringe ideas.

“One thing that the Democratic primary is doing is exposing a lot of people to the platform and policy concepts that I will be pushing in Delaware as well,” Scarane said. “These are all things that are within reach and that we should be asking for, and they are not radical ideas.”

Delaware’s statewide primary will be held Sept. 15, 2020.

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