Poor Christopher Coons, designated Democrat sacrificial lamb, handpicked by Vice President Joe Biden to gracefully lose this year’s U.S. Senate race in Delaware for the seat long held by Biden and now being vacated by appointed Sen. Ted Kaufman (D).
The grand plan was essentially to preserve the future political viability of Biden son, Beau—the state’s attorney general—who demurred a seemingly unwinnable face-off with shoo-in liberal Republican Congressman and former Gov. Mike Castle.
Before recent events, Coons seemed content in his underdog role (13 points down vs. Castle in August), coming to believe he had a stealth strategy to actually win by sneaking up on the staid Delaware political landscape and gradually undermining the widely held, and he thought thinly justified, notion of Castle’s inevitability.
But then came the Christine O’Donnell earthquake in the September 14 Republican primary that unexpectedly toppled Castle in a Tea Party-backed wave. Coons, the uncontested Democrat candidate, is now facing O’Donnell (not Castle), and suddenly finds himself square in the national spotlight as the top dog in the race (up 16 points in the latest polls), now fully expected by all conventional wisdom among Democrats and media pundits to win the seat in a virtual slam dunk.
Not bad on the surface, but not necessarily the best place for a full-throated liberal to be, six weeks out, in a year like this, breeding complacency among his friends while putting him and his radical liberal agenda squarely in the bulls-eye of an insurgent national conservative awakening.
The balding Coons, 47, doesn’t seem the type to relish the limelight. A graduate of Amherst, with law and divinity degrees from Yale, he spent nine years through 2005 as a corporate attorney for Delaware-based W.L. Gore & Associates, a 50-year-old worldwide medical products and fabrics manufacturing conglomerate. For the last five years, he held the elected position of county executive in New Castle County, the state’s Democratic stronghold around Wilmington.
It was here that he compiled a strong record of advocacy for a slew of local tax and fee increases (successfully raising property taxes three times after pledging not to raise taxes at all), while presiding over ballooning deficits that brought the county to the brink of bankruptcy in 2009. He claims the taxes were justified and matched with spending cuts, but the deficits, he says, were the fault of “the larger economy,” i.e., Bush.
Delaware State Republican Party Chairman Tom Ross describes Coons succinctly as a “leftist” who would be “a complete rubber stamp for Obama.” Reinforcing this view was none other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) who this spring lavished praise on Coons, saying, “He’s my pet. He’s my favorite candidate.”
At Coons’ candidacy announcement rally in April, Delaware’s senior Sen. Tom Carper (D.), another Reid pet, launched into the tired Democratic riff about Republican obstructionism, saying Democrat leaders right now couldn’t get 60 votes to pass a resolution saying “the sky is blue.”
“But when Chris Coons is in the Senate,” Carper shouted to the cheering partisan crowd, “we’ll get his vote…that’s for sure.”
Coons does not shy away from his strong support for the Obama legislative and policy juggernaut. “I’m someone,” he says, “who would broadly support the agenda of our President.… I think that we need more folks in the Senate … who are willing to vote, for example, to confirm a Supreme Court nominee … who follows the values that Justice John Paul Stevens brought.… Somebody who is willing to work in … partnership with an administration that I think made the right choice on health care, on the stimulus, on the jobs bill.”
“I would have proudly voted ‘yes’ on healthcare reform,” Coons says.
Like Obama, Coons says he opposes extending the Bush tax cuts for the “wealthy,” saying, “our first priority is to reduce the tax burden on the middle class.” Speaking to his tax-raising record as county executive, Coons bluntly admits in Mondale-esque tones that, yes, “Chris Coons raised your taxes. Absolutely. Guilty as charged, your honor.”
To help the economy, Coons says he favors more “investments” in “education,” “training” and “infrastructure,” along with an unspecified “simplifying” of the tax code for small businesses.
According to his website, Coons is “calling for a nationwide cap-and-trade program that will help establish a price on carbon … to help solve the effects of Greenhouse gases on the environment.”
On education, he favors what he calls a “holistic” approach, arguing that addressing the problems of “housing, health care, crime and poverty” is the prerequisite for enhancing student achievement.
On energy, Coons strongly opposes off-shore drilling but favors instead: “Off-shore wind-farming.”
On abortion, he boasts of his “100% rating from NARAL.”
Coons is strongly supportive of government-sponsored stem cell research, and all the pillars of the gay activist agenda: gay marriage, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Coons is strongly backed by Big Labor and is endorsed by the stridently anti-national-missile-defense Council for a Livable World and the pro-constitutional-rights-for-terrorists People for the American Way.
As a senior in college in 1985, Coons penned a now much-talked-about first-person opinion piece for the Amherst Student newspaper, chronicling his personal transformation within his four undergraduate years from a young “Republican fanatic” to what he now says he “jokingly” called a “bearded Marxist.”
He wrote about experiences that he said had led him to the conclusion that “my own favorite beliefs in the miracles of free enterprise and boundless opportunity in America might be largely untrue.”
His transforming experiences included, he said, meeting “creature(s)” he had never seen before—“Democrats” and “Leftists”—who were “terrifyingly persuasive,” and studying under a “bright and eloquent Marxist professor at the University of Nairobi” (Kenya) where he had traveled on an overseas study program during his junior year.
Today, no longer the underdog, liberal “pet” Coons is banking on traditional advantages in party voter registration in this usually reliable Democrat state to largely see him through, while fully expecting, along with the salivating national liberal media, to watch the flowering of “extremism” and self-immolation on the other side. Any other scenario, from his perspective, is a little too scary to think about.