Cape Gazette

2 to run for U.S. Senate seat

By Kevin Spence | Feb 05, 2010
New Castle County Executive Chris Coons is seeking the Democratic nomination for the open 2010 U.S. Senate seat and is likely to face off against popular, long-serving Rep. Mike Castle, the virtually uncontested Republican contender in the race.

Ocean View councilman enters race
Perry Mitchell, an Ocean View councilman and political science professor, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2010 U. S. Senate seat.

Mitchell, 71, said, “I’m running really to do something about our economy, to bring many more jobs to our economy. I think the union rally they had at the state Legislature recently reflects the desperation of the economy.”

Mitchell is a retired Northern Virginia Community College professor who taught there for 40 years. He is a part-time American policy teacher at Wilmington College.

He also said banks are the big culprits in the nation’s economic collapse. Mitchell said he would work toward tighter regulation of banks to separate banking and investing components. “I don’t think taxpayers or customers of the bank should support risky enterprise activity,” he said.

He serves on the executive board of the Sussex County Democratic Party and said most Democrats who’ve contacted him have responded favorably. “The Democrats don’t make endorsements before the primaries, but they support me nonetheless,” he said.

With four months yet to file for office, Mitchell said he is focusing now on fundraising.

Coons’ Wednesday, Feb. 3 announcement comes just over a week after Delaware Attorney
General Beau Biden said he would not run for the seat formerly held by his father, Vice President Joe Biden.

Coons, 46, said he would bring new energy and a new approach to Washington, D.C., at a time when many voters are becoming frustrated with incumbent office holders.

“People here in Delaware are hurting, and Congress has failed to deliver the change we voted for in 2008,” he said. “I think Delawareans of all political stripes are suffering and are frustrated with Washington.”

Coons was elected New Castle County Council President in 2000. In 2004, he was elected county executive, and, in 2008, he won re-election without opposition.

He said his years of experience working with state agencies has adequately equipped him to work on a federal level in Washington, D.C., and battle the bureaucracy for Delawareans because he’s not a political insider.

As county executive, Coons already represents about 530,000 of the state’s nearly 890,000 residents.

Previously an attorney representing W.L Gore & Associates Inc., Coons said he also has more than eight years working in the private sector, “not just on legal matters but on economic development and site location.”

“Just this week I was on the phone with a CEO of a small company with 30 employees that could expand to 50,” he said.

Coons refused to say which company that was, but he said it is based on the Wilmington riverfront.

He also said he has been in recent discussions with a larger, rapidly growing company with no footprint inside Delaware that might be interested in relocating here.

As county executive, Coons said he helped create hundreds of jobs and has cleaned up more than 70 of the worst properties in the county, in addition to helping launch a new Safe Streets partnership to remove violent parole offenders from neighborhoods.

“Before I was elected in 2004, the county government was mired in scandal. I restored integrity and confidence in county government,” he said.

Coons said he helped cut more than $130 million in wasteful government spending and trimmed government by 100 positions.

“I want to take my strong track record of getting real results to the U.S. Senate because the people of Delaware deserve leadership that represents their values,” he said.

An Amherst College graduate, Coons received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and political science. He earned his law degree from Yale Law School and he holds a master’s degree in ethics from the Yale Divinity School. Coons serves on the advisory boards of the Bear-Glasgow Boys & Girls Club, the Wilmington Riverfront Development Corp. and the Better Business Bureau of Delaware.

Senators support Coons

Coons has garnered the support of Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who also chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Mendez said Coons has an impressive record of shaking up government and working with local businesses to create jobs.

“With Chris’s entrance into the race, Delawareans will face a choice between a proven reformer who has created an engine of economic growth and a longtime Washington insider who has voted with the special interests,” said Menendez.

Sen. Tom Carper said Coons shares his same values. “I will be happy to lend a hand to help him over the next nine months, and I would be proud to welcome him to the United States Senate should the voters of Delaware send him here,” said Carper.

Castle said he looks forward to running against Coons. He also said, like Coons, he is focused on solutions.

“I am committed to keeping both Congress, and this campaign, focused on solutions to issues that voters care about – economic growth, reining in runaway federal spending and getting Delawareans back to work,” said Castle. He said independence, civility and honesty are necessary to developing solutions – characteristics that are absent from Washington, yet ones Castle would bring to the Senate.

When asked about battling Castle’s immense name recognition and popularity, Coons said, “His 18 years of service gives him a strong leg up in name recognition. But, as Delawareans learn more about my record and challenges – and results – they will be more open that mine is a platform and record of service for all Delawareans.”

Sussex connections

Coons also said he is familiar with Sussex County issues as an active participant in the Delaware League of Local Governments, as well as with downstate firemen and agricultural associations. He has been named an honorary life member of the Minquadale Fire Company and honorary commander of the 166th Air Wing of the Delaware National Guard.

Still, Coons said he looks forward to “collecting details tempered by or informed by current citizens” in the Cape Region.

Coons, his wife, Annie, and their three children live in Wilmington. His in-laws live in Lewes.

In February, Coons is planning a three-county tour to officially kick off his candidacy.

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