Republican James "Jim" DeMartino, a marine veteran and Delaware attorney, wants to take a "hearts and minds" approach to swaying First State voters looking for change in their U.S. Senate representatives.
"I would like to have a conversation with the Democrats. I would like to meet with anybody who may be on the fence. I'd like to meet with anybody who would be open to a conversation to discuss the issues," DeMartino said. "It's very difficult to talk to a lot of the passionate Democrats about things, because there is no conversation. It's one-sided. So I would like to talk with the true moderate Democrats. I appeal to them that we discuss the issues as they see them, and I'd like to present it as I see them, and we come up with solutions to these issues that will benefit Delawareans."
He was inspired to run, DeMartino said, while watching the confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh and hearing incumbent Chris Coons make "sickening" comments.
"One of his statements was Judge Kavanaugh had to prove his innocence, he was guilty, and he had to prove his innocence. Well, that's in direct contradiction of our judicial system," he said. "When I heard that, my stomach turned...everybody is innocent until proven guilty, and that really--from a U.S. Senator who is confirming a Supreme Court Justice, or at least hearing them--to use that terminology was more sickening and was in direct disregard of our constitution and our judicial system. I couldn't let that stand...It was just obvious to me that he is not representing our country, our Constitution...Looking into his record, and the state of affairs in Delaware, I just don't see any benefit from his service, and I'm in the position to challenge him--and I have to challenge him for the benefit of Delaware and this country."
Delaware has not taken full advantage of opportunistic development, and DeMartino said he'd fight to get funding for investments in the state.
"From a direct Delaware perspective: Senators approve funding for different issues in their state, and I think that's one of the key issues," he said. "To me, we have a lot of economic issues in Delaware where our economy is very poor. It's been declining over the past couple of years, even during President Trump's administration, where the rest of the country has been benefiting up until this COVID issue. And I just don't see Senator Coons providing any of that."
He pointed to the Port of Wilmington as a specific example of something that should be a "goldmine for jobs and opportunity" that has gone neglected and underdeveloped. Additionally, he said Delaware has a "deficiency" in broadband that's been long ignored, and the state's technological failings "prevents our economy from growing, prevent our attraction to manufacturing and other high-tech businesses--or any businesses--these days."
Highly critical of the current state administration's handling of the COVID-19 response, DeMartino said Delaware Governor John Carney overstepped his authority, leading to the devastation of the state's economic landscape.
"We're going to see that damage for a long time following," he said. "[To] go back to phase two, or maintain it, I believe is detrimental at this time...The concern is, of course, about the population, and the health of our citizens. That is one of the significant duties of government: to protect the health and welfare of the citizens. However, you have to balance that with the actual detriment. And the collateral damage to the economy definitely has been devastating, and we need to balance it."
Not discouraged by how blue Delaware traditionally has been, DeMartino thinks this year, maybe more than ever before, the state is ready for a change in leadership that will take things in the new, more positive direction he envisions.
"The first thing people say when they look at the registration rolls, they say, 'Oh, Republicans can't win.' That's not true, and especially this year, with this opportunity, this is the year that Republicans can win--and will win," he said. "With the COVID crisis and the poor economy, the devastation of small business, we have an opportunity to reach out to Democrats--true moderate Democrats--and appeal to them. That's the objective: appealing to the moderate Democrats who have our core American principles. Family, business, independence, self-responsibility. We can appeal to them, and win their vote. We can win this year in 2020--statewide offices in Delaware, nationally, and and locally."
He said being able to appeal to that bluer base also means he'd be capable of working with the Democrats already in office.
"There's the problem that we all know: the polarization of of everything, going down party lines," DeMartino said. "The Democrats look straight to their agenda, from the national level on down. Issues need to be discussed, and people aren't even talking anymore. Everything is party line, and one of my, I think, attributes as an aspiring politician, is to be able to talk with everybody, find out what their true motives and objective are, and get to a mutual point of understanding that benefits the citizens of Delaware, and then the citizens of the U.S."
That said, he's happy with the direction America is currently headed.
"I do want to work for President [Donald] Trump, work in support of his policies," DeMartino said. "We saw the lowest unemployment rate for minorities, ever. We saw more people working and a growth in the economy that we haven't seen in years, and his policies have been working. I give him credit for it. The media coverage, and all these other investigations that haven't panned out, that haven't proven anything. And if he were given the opportunity--or at least a fair opportunity--and discussion of issues, we would see that he has been extremely beneficial to our country. So yes, I would definitely want to continue supporting his policies."
In reference to reports Trump may have been informed months ago that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban fighters on American military members, DeMartino said the jury's still out on what Trump knew and when, and that enemies will always use underhanded tactics.
"I don't know what he's known. Those facts may come out. What I will say is this: nations fight each other in many ways. This is my initial thought as a Marine. Other countries target their enemy opponents in many different ways. And when they said the Russia put bounties on on soldiers, you know--people are at war. We don't want to understand all the implications of war, of espionage. For people to be amazed that this can occur is, to me, immature, naive to what really goes on in the world in conflict and in war. I've been fortunate I have not been in a combat zone, or in a combat environment. But I do understand what does go on...This is war, and we have to understand we're at war. For people to condemn President Trump, without knowing facts--which we always do we, we make a judgement before we know the facts, which again, as an attorney. I oppose that concept--but things occur that we don't like, but we have to understand that we can't condemn people without knowing the facts first."