Delaware Gubernatorial Candidate Debate

Colin Bonini, left, and John Carney, right, at the gubernatorial debate Friday

A familiar opponent is looking to take on incumbent John Carney in Delaware's gubernatorial race this election cycle. 

State Senator Colin Bonini (R-District 16)--who lost to Carney in the same race in 2016 but said he still calls Carney a "friend"--is hoping to take him on again for the title of Governor. His main platform is fixing what he believes to be lost opportunities Delaware Democrats have let slip past them.

"My big theme right now is: 'We can fix this,'" he said on WDEL's Rick Jensen Show. "Delaware's economy, even prior to the pandemic, was just--I mean, 'underperforming' doesn't even do it justice. Delaware has one of the weakest economies in the country even prior to the pandemic, and we've just been absolutely hammered. The reality is, whether you look at the economy, whether you look at how groups of students are doing in our public schools, when you're looking at public safety Wilmington--still one of the highest crime small cities in the country--regardless of what you look at, Delaware should be doing a lot better...John Carney is a good man and a friend, but his party, quite frankly, has lost their minds...The reality is that Delaware is absolutely heading in the wrong direction. But the good news is, it is absolutely fixable."

He said step one would be to make Delaware even more friendly to businesses so that more headquarters are moved to the state, and more Delawareans can fill those available jobs. 

"I think it's fixable," he reiterated. "We are a high-tax, high-regulation, high-labor-cost, high-utility-costs state. All of those things are fixable. The reality is that our geographical location, if we can fix those things, employers will want to come here. I think the other key is that, employers want--especially manufacturers--want pre-highly skilled, somewhat specialized, skilled employees. And we have the vo-techs and all these kind of things, but we need to dramatically increase the training opportunities for younger potential workers."

Bonini said the resources are there to get things done, the administration has just been dragging its feet. He's prepared to make those investments to increase Delaware's attractiveness on the jobs market and, more importantly, to make them intelligently, he said.

"Delaware's problem is spending, not resources," he said. "Delaware doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. We have the money to do these things. We just have to make the decision to do it...I'm an optimist. I think we can fix this. I think the democrats have just really failed. Really failed Delaware."

Delaware is also very blue, but Bonini said he believes his reputation precedes him and even in his district, he has support from both sides, and he thinks it's more purple than many realize. 

"I worked hard, I have a long-time reputation, people know who I am, and I'm very responsive in my district," he said. "I feel very blessed. My district is significantly Democrat, but I've been fortunate to be reelected several times in my very heavy Democrat district...The only way for a Republican to win an election in Delaware is, we have to go and tell Democrats and ask them to come over. 'Leave the Democratic Party and vote for me as a Republican.' And I am going to be working incredibly hard to do that. I think we have a message. It doesn't matter if you're Republican, Democrat, whatever: downward is not going in the right direction, regardless of who you are...I think that the bottom line is you have to go to Democrats and say, 'I'm asking you to please take a minute listen to what I'm saying, and consider voting for me.'"

That said, Bonini stressed the current issues facing Delaware are less about party issues and more about finding the right man for the job. 

"I don't need to change your vote for Republican, I need your vote for Colin Bonini," he said. 

He also said, as timely as the matter is currently, he's ready to approach Delaware communities to have a "frank conversation about race," and how the First State's minority populations deserve more assistance. 

"I'm going to go to the African American community and say look, here is what's happened to African Americans in Delaware over the past 30 years," he said. "Here are my ideas, very specifically, about schools in Wilmington, the specifics about the economy, specifics about some of our public policies that devastate the families, specifics about what kind of level of support people are getting, etcetera. I'm gonna go to African Americans and say 'Look, I'm going to ask you to give me five minutes, and consider voting for me.' Will that be successful? I have no idea. Let's be clear, it's an incredible long-shot for a Republican to win. But I think if was start talking about the big issues and the fundamentals, I think folks will go, 'You know what, he's right, we've got to change.'"