Kerri Harris to challenge Carper for Senate seat
On Feb. 10, Kerri Harris, a former community organizer from Dover, announced her campaign to replace incumbent Sen. Tom Carper for his seat in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Carper has represented the State of Delaware in the Senate since 2001, after previously serving as governor of Delaware and member of the House of Representatives.
Harris says that, due to Sen. Carper’s long tenure in the Senate, he has lost touch with the issues that are affecting Delawareans the most. She said that such a disconnect is inevitable for a long-tenured Washington D.C. politician, and that she has her finger on the pulse of what Delaware residents need the most.
Harris also pointed out that Sen. Carper takes a large amount of money from corporate donations.
When push would come to shove in the U.S. Senate, she said, “I will not be beholden to large corporations, and so when it comes time to stand up for somebody, to stand up for the people that got you there … those people are exclusively the people of Delaware.”
She also is an Air Force veteran, and said that her military experience will definitely help her as a politician. She said that in the military, people are often forced to work with people that they have never met. However, everyone always has to focus on accomplishing the same mission. As a politician, Harris said that her mission is to find the answer to the following question: “How does America win?”
With regards to Sen. Carper, Harris called her opponent “a good man,” but that in recent years, he has been making fewer public appearances and not taking the tough “moral stands” that she believes that he should.
“Even with the best intentions, often times, politicians that go through the political pipeline, forget the people that they are representing,” Harris continued.
She also defended her lack of experience in a political office by saying, “I am accustomed to going to where the help is needed, usually not getting paid for my work, but knowing I’m making a difference.”
Harris said that that history demonstrates that she truly cares about the people of Delaware and will do anything in her power to help them.
Harris and her campaign have found some support on the university’s campus.
Though unable to endorse a political candidate as a Registered Student Organization (RSO), Bailey Weatherbee, co-president of Young Progressives Demanding Action, said that the members of her organization see Harris as, “a people’s senator — someone that will organize her constituents and fight for issues that matter to us.”
“She is so genuine in her beliefs and truly wants what is best for all Delawareans and all Americans,” Weatherbee continued.
Anna Shields, co-president of the university’s College Democrats RSO, voiced support for Harris, who she believes will serve as a progressive foil to Carper in the midterm race. Shields supports Harris’s agenda, particularly with respect to reproductive rights, single-payer healthcare and criminal justice reform, but has concerns about Harris’s lack of experience and the timing of her candidacy.
“I believe that her candidacy could be stronger if she had legislative experience that would give voters such as myself a greater sense of confidence about her ability to perform in the United States Senate,” Shields wrote in an email statement. “My other concern is how late she has announced, as I worry that starting earlier may have helped her campaign gather more support for her, but I am looking forward to the primary and seeing what the people of Delaware decide.”
Harris additionally outlined her platform of four things that she specifically would like to get done if elected to the Senate. Those four items that she would advocate for are: single-payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, universal pre-K and no more offshore drilling or hydraulic fracturing (which is colloquially known as fracking).
In order to accomplish her goal of getting more people involved in politics, she said that, if elected, her office would pay several organizers, out of their own budget, to energize the communities of Delaware and to see what other issues matter to Delawareans the most.
Following the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 that killed 17 people, the issue of gun-related homicide is very much at the forefront of the national political dialogue. Harris said that the reason the United States has so many more gun-related deaths than every other developed country is that Americans are not taught proper coping mechanisms when they are young.
Harris also pointed out that other countries emphasize time spent with family, and that that additional family support might lead to lower rates of violence in other countries, particularly in Europe.
With regards to the little emphasis in the United States on family time, she asked, “In America, when you don’t have the ability to go to your family [with your problems], where is your mental health?”
Harris said that until the country fixes those less concrete issues, stricter laws should be adopted. Along those lines, she expressed support for bans on assault rifles, extended magazines and bump stocks as ways to curb such violence. Harris stated that split seconds matter in active shooter situations. Consequently, anything to slow a shooter down will help keep people safer.
Harris added that those bans do not mean, “we can’t re-visit [stricter gun laws] and bring stuff back [in the future].”
With regard to the issue of gun violence, Harris said, “this isn’t about politics. It’s about lives,” she continued, “Its intervention time.”
If elected to the Senate, Harris said that she wants her constituents, especially children, to see her and feel like that they can achieve what she has. She said that she wants the children of Delaware to see that she has, “had the same jobs that their parents have had, the same struggles that their parents have had,” and believe that they can do whatever they want in life.
Harris said that because she wants to be a role model to her constituents, she, “[has] to be giving 150 percent,” because she feels that the work she would be doing as a Senator would really matter.
The Delaware Democratic primary election in which Harris will be challenging Sen. Carper will be held on Sept. 6 and the general election for U.S. Senator from Delaware, against the Republican nominee, will be held on Nov. 6.