Meet the G.O.P. candidate for U.S. Senate: Gene Truono
While incumbent Democratic Sen. Tom Carper and Kerri Harris, a political newcomer hailing from Dover, Del., battle it out for the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, the winner of that primary, which takes place on Thursday, Sept. 6, will have a Republican opponent in November.
Gene Truono, a university alumnus and a former PayPal executive from Wilmington, announced his candidacy on Feb. 20. His original primary opponent, Chuck Boyce, dropped out on March 1 due to personal health issues. As of now, no other Republican candidate has entered the race. The deadline to announce a candidacy is July 10.
“I spent thirty years in the financial services industry and I saw first-hand how Congress doesn’t understand how business works,” Truono said. “I have a lot of great ideas on how we can simplify regulations and help the consumer at the same time as opposed to creating more burdensome regulations.”
Truono started off his career at Wilmington Trust Company as an attorney. He then moved to New York to work for J.P. Morgan as a regulatory compliance officer. He is running as a “constitutionalist” and believes partisanship is not the best way to govern.
“When I don’t agree with something, I’m not just going to go along with the party line,” he said. “What I think we should be doing in Washington is articulate position and point of view when developing policy.”
Truono addressed some very important issues that matter to students, such as immigration and the future of “Dreamers.”
“Part of the problem with illegal immigration is that we still have not a secure border and I would firmly support the [Trump] administration’s position on securing the border, increasing and enhance border security, ending chain migration and changing the visa lottery system to a merit-based system; and exchange for that, what the [Trump] administration has proposed it to allow for Dreamers to have a path for citizenship and that is one that I would support,” he said.
Truono also addressed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was recently passed by Republicans and signed by President Donald Trump last December. The bill would not make interest on student loans tax deductible and Truono agreed with that portion of the bill as well.
“Special interests and every group want to have their deduction for something or other,” he said. “I believe we should have a clean, simple tax code, which allows for a lower tax rate for all … but other loans aren’t tax deductible, why would we make student loans tax deductible?”
When asked about gun policy, Truono said he does not support banning AR-15s, the same weapon that killed 17 students on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He does, however, support gun safety and banning augmentations that make certain weapons automatic.
“I am a constitutionalist, we have a Second Amendment, I don’t believe that banning weapons is the solution to the problem,” he said. “With the issue in Florida, I think we have now been able to clearly ascertain that this individual’s troubled and there was a breakdown in the system.”
Instead, Truono believes in focusing on individuals’ well-being, not the weapons of choice.
“We need to focus on mental health in this country … if he had a handgun, he still could have killed people, if he had a truck and drove it into the parking lot when they were coming out of school he could have killed people, he could have even strapped a bomb to his backpack,” he argued.
He also does not support raising the minimum age to buying a firearm to 21, but understands there are valid arguments for raising it.
“If I enlist in the army, and I learn how to use a weapon, whatever kind of weapon it is, and then I come disabled at 19, and you’re going to take away my gun? How is that fair? How does that align with the Constitution?” he pointed out.
Another issue addressed was criminal justice reform, specifically, with marijuana. In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, which prevented federal district attorneys from prosecuting marijuana business owners and users who are abiding by state laws where it is legal. Truono stated that he supports ending federal prohibition and allowing states to decide the laws with marijuana regulations.
“The issue that we need to implement is to remove marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance for those states that have changed the law to legalize even recreational marijuana, and the reason why that is is because states’ rights are supreme to the federal government … but I do not have a problem with recreational or medical marijuana,” he said.
While Truono is a conservative and looks forward to working with both sides of the aisle in Washington, there is one thing about him that is not universally popular with his party: he is gay and happily married to his husband. If elected, it would make him the first openly gay Republican elected to office in Delaware.
“It’s 2018 and we have moved past that,” Stephen McGuire, Truono’s campaign manager and university alumnus said. “I spent fourteen years in the army and someone’s sexuality was never a problem because they put their uniform on and went to work every day, and that is exactly what Gene will do when he is elected.”
Emily Taylor, the vice chairman of the Delaware Republican Party and another university alumna, agrees with McGuire.
“At the end of the day, the message at the core of Gene’s campaign is strong national defense, responsible government and a growing economy that mirrors the beliefs of all Delaware citizens,” Taylor said. “That’s what the 2018 campaign is about, and why Gene is one of a long list of strong Delaware Republican candidates this year.”
The primary election will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 and the and the general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.