There is no class on Tuesday, Nov. 6 to allow students to exercise their right to voice their opinions on a rapper and an Olympian.
As election day approaches, nontraditional candidates, like former rapper Antonio Delgado and former Olympian Marty Nothstein, and traditional ones alike fight for every possible vote in tight races across the country that could reverse the Republicans’ control over the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Republicans hold 51 of the 100 seats in the Senate and 235 of the 428 filled seats in the House (Seven seats in the House are currently vacant).
Delaware students have the chance make their voices heard, as elections in Delaware and nearby Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York all have races whose outcomes could determine future trends of their state.
The local senatorial race pins incumbent, Democratic Senator Tom Carper against Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett.
Carper has represented Delaware in the Senate since . He was the the state’s representative in the House from 1982 to 1993 and Delaware’s governor from 1993 to 2001.
His Republican challenger, Arlett, was President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman for the state of Delaware during the 2016 election. At an Oct. 17 debate between the candidates, Arlett said that if he were in office he would have voted to appoint Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and to approve Trump’s proposed tax and health care plans.
Carper voted against appointing Kavanaugh. He also voted against Trump’s tax plan, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected would boost the national gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.7 percent from 2018-2028, while also raising the national deficit by $1.9 billion over that period.
While Trump’s health care plan never made it to a vote on the Senate floor, Carper said at the debate that he opposed the legislation, which would have repealed and replaced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Although The Cook Political Report claims Carper has a solid lead in this race, the candidates’ platform differences highlight the dichotomy of politics in Delaware. Southern Delaware votes predominantly Republican, but the more populous and Democratic New Castle County projects to outvote Republicans again.
Though moderate Republicans in Delaware may find it difficult to find representation in these midterm elections, the case is different in Maryland.
Incumbent Republican governor Larry Hogan is running for re-election in a state that votes primarily Democratic. Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan election information curator, says Hogan leads his Democratic opponent Ben Jealous by an average of 18.25 points.
If re-elected, the self-branded, political outsider would be Maryland’s first two term Republican governor since Theodore McKeldin, whose second term ended in 1959.
Hogan is one of three Republicans to govern Maryland since McKeldin. Altogether, Republicans governed Maryland for ten of the last 59 years.
Hogan’s lead may partially be attributable to his 64 percent approval rating.
The Democratic challenger, who was president of the NAACP from 2008 to 2013, is running on a platform of creating Medicare for all and tuition-free college programs. Jealous looks to target ending mass incarceration and to raise taxes on the top one percent of earners in Maryland.
Though widespread support for a Maryland Republican is atypical, Hogan’s lead suggests that Jealous and the state’s progressive movement have a deficit to overcome in the final weeks before the election.
Maryland’s northern neighbor will have its first election since it redrew its congressional districts.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in January that the state’s congressional districts constituted gerrymandering and were unconstitutional. The law that implemented these districts took hold in 2011 when Republicans controlled both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship.
The new seventh district, which contains most of the former 15th district, is up for grabs because of the ensuing redistricting and the retirement of the last representative.
Republican Charlie Dent, who retired on May 12, served Pennsylvania’s 15th district in the House of Representatives since 2005.
The opening of this seat leads to the battle between the Republican Nothstein and Democrat Susan Wild.
Nothstein, the former Olympian, won a gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, for cycling track, and a gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, for the same event. His opponent, Wild, is an attorney.
The race between Nothstein and Wild is difficult to project because the redistricting lumped together areas that have tendencies to lean toward both parties.
Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton won the former District 15 in the 2016 election, making the the district one of 25 that Republicans held that voted for Clinton. In comparison, Republicans held 246 districts ahead of the 2016 election.
Northampton County, one of the largest areas in the district, also voted for the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, in the 2012 election. To further complicate the voting tendencies of the area, the county then voted for the Republican, Trump, in 2016.
Ballotpedia reports that Wild leads Nothstein by an average of 9.67 points, but the newness of the district and its candidates paired with the clustered past of the electorate in this area, make this race difficult to predict.
Across the Delaware River, Republican Tom MacArthur, who claims to be bipartisan, faces a Democratic newcomer Andy Kim who challenges this notion.
This race for the third congressional district, which stretches from the Delaware River near Willingboro to the Jersey Shore near Toms River, focuses on these accusations of partisanship.
Kim said he chose to run because he disliked that incumbent MacArthur voted for Trump’s proposed health care plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
MacArthur defends himself from Kim’s claims of partisanship by pointing to his stance on immigration reform. MacArthur’s campaign website states that he “supports a compassionate legislative fix that for young children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, and have known no other home than America.”
Although MacArthur’s website states that he wants the country to have a strong border, this “compassionate legislative fix” appeals to Democrats who typically report restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump canceled last September. DACA allowed the government to grant people who illegally immigrated to the country as children a renewable two-year period to secure a work permit before facing deportation. MacArthur’s openness to finding a solution to help those affected by the rescindication of DACA is his main draw across party lines.
While MacArthur attempts to establish his bipartisanship, Kim’s campaign has raised $5.2 million to MacArthur’s $4.5 million as of Oct. 17.
Altogether, the race between the newcomer and the one-term incumbent remains a toss-up, as Ballotpedia reports that Kim leads MacArthur by an average of 1.1 points heading into the home stretch of election season.
To the north of New Jersey lies a state with another contentious race that pits Republican incumbent John Faso against Delgado, a Democrat, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law School graduate and former rapper.
The battle for New York’s 19th congressional district, which runs from just north of Poughkeepsie to the outskirts of Albany, focused mainly on differences in opinions about health care until Republicans began questioning whether Delgado was fit for office given the nature of his lyrics. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) capitalized on this uncertainty, releasing an attack ad on Sept. 12 that stitched together pieces of Delgado’s speeches with clips from some of his rap songs with suggestive content.
Some of the lyrics the ad shows Delgado rapping are “There’s a war goin’ on [N-word] what the f— is up,” “Gotcha sweatin’ this like ya having sex to a porno flick,” and “God bless Iraq.”
The lines about war and Iraq are taken out of context, however. These two lines come from one of Delgado’s songs called “Draped in Flags,” which he released in 2007 as a protest to America’s war with Iraq.
The “God bless Iraq” line is part of the song’s conclusion, but the ad omitted the rest of the ending.
“Evil lives in us all, so we must fight with love and goodness in our hearts and peace in our minds if democracy, equality and freedom art truly to prevail,” Delgado rapped. “God bless America. God bless Iraq. God bless us all.”
Although Faso did not create nor sponsor the ad, as he is not part of the NRCC, he has not corrected the ad’s out of context lyrics.
Faso said, however, that “Mr. Delgado’s words have been an issue for some time and it is his responsibility as a candidate to answer for the controversial views he expressed and whether he continues to hold these views today.”
On Oct. 23, Trump endorsed Faso on Twitter.
Congressman John Faso of New York has worked hard and smart. Strong on Crime, Borders and our 2nd Amendment, John is respected by all. Vote for John. He has my complete and total Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2018
“Congressman John Faso of New York has worked hard and smart,” Trump tweeted. “Strong on Crime, Borders and our 2nd Amendment, John is respected by all. Vote for John. He has my complete and total Endorsement!”
Faso’s campaign website follows suit, stating that he supports the construction of a “physical and electronic border wall system.”
Faso also satisfied Trump’s comment on his support of gun rights, as he voted for legislation last December that would allow gun owners with concealed carry permits to carry their firearms into other states without needing separate approvals. This bill passed the House of Representatives and awaits action in the Senate.
Delgado, on the other hand, supports offering a path to citizenship undocumented immigrants who live in the United States. His campaign website also states that he would support legislation that would necessitate universal background checks for potential gun owners while challenging the National Rifle Association’s influence in Congress.
Additionally, Delgado advocates for achieving universal health care coverage without providing Medicare for all. He instead hopes to give citizens the chance to opt into and pay for Medicare. In contrast, Faso voted to approve the AHCA, and stated on his campaign website that he opposed Medicare for all.
With one week left until Election Day, neither candidate has a clear lead, as implied by a poll from Spectrum News and Siena College. The poll, which debuted on the same day as Trump’s endorsement, indicates that Faso leads Delgado by one point, but the poll’s statistical margin of error suggests this race remains a toss up.
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