Jeffrey Binkins, a 30-year-old truck driver for Thrifty Propane supplier, decided to join the U.S. Senate race in Maryland to represent the working man.
“I figured, just to prove a point,” Binkins said. “If a working man was to get into a game that career politicians seem to take for granted, maybe it would wake some of them up and realize just because you’ve got a highfalutin degree, or you know your way around a book, that doesn’t mean somebody else can’t do it, neither.”
Binkins, of Hancock, filed as a Democratic write-in candidate Oct. 18. Though he’s running for U.S. Senate, the bulk of his platform involves Washington County, where he lives when he’s not visiting his fiancee in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
One of his biggest concerns is Washington County’s lagging economy, which he partly attributes to converting former railroad tracks into a towpath between Hancock and Fort Frederick. He said he would like to open a new train station in Hancock with lines to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to encourage more commuters to take the train and reduce emissions.
He wants to bring new companies to Washington County to boost employment.
“I’ve been predominantly a loner, but I would assume if I could get myself out there, maybe somebody, like a company down in Frederick, would be willing to start a small business or open up a headquarters or a plant up this way,” Binkins said.
He was unsure how he would do that as a U.S. senator. He wants to encourage job growth in Maryland by providing companies such as GM with a tax incentive to build factories in the state.
On foreign policy, he had no clear plans, but said the U.S. needs to “keep our nose out of a lot of the things that we do.”
He said high schools should add job training programs in plumbing and mechanics to better prepare students.
“You can own your own business if you do these programs,” Binkins said. “When it comes down to it, if everybody became an IT professional or a doctor or a lawyer, who’s going to fix their broken toilet for them?”
He would like current gun laws to remain the same, and opposes Hillary Clinton’s proposal to let 65,000 Syrian refugees resettle in America.
Mostly, Binkins said he’s tired of senators who won’t answer the phone for constituents and seem to be engaged in corruption.
As an example, he cited the Affordable Care Act, which he thinks has failed in providing health care coverage.
“You know, you’re gonna start to get fined 1,000 bucks at the end of the year, or 2,000 bucks, for not having it,” he said. “And where’s that money going? It’s not making health care insurance affordable enough for these folks to have it.”
“Then four or five months later after all the dust settles, you hear how Congress and the senators, they all get this big raise at the end of the cycle,” he continued. “To me, it’s just obvious. You put two and two together, well, where are they coming up with the money to take a raise, and where is this money going for health care that nobody’s getting? It’s gotta be going in somebody’s pocket, because you’re taking it out of mine.”
According to Healthcare.gov, the penalty for not having health insurance is $695 or 2.5 percent of annual household income, whichever is greater.
Congress last received a raise in 2009, before the Affordable Care Act passed, according to a 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service.
“When I entered this race, I kind of knew that I really didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting in,” Binkins said. “But I figured if people were willing to look at me for what I am, if I’m something that they like, then there. I tried.”
The U.S. Senate candidates on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election are Democrat Chris Van Hollen, Republican Kathy Szeliga and Margaret Flowers of the Green Party.
Senators are paid $174,000 a year and serve a six-year term.