2020 gubernatorial dossier: Intangibles

This final part of the dossier series takes a look at other issues that may not be as important to me but still deserve mention. However, I mainly use this part to comment on their campaign and how it’s being conducted. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, intangibles are worth up to 10 points – unlike all other parts, these are additive or subtractive. 

This time around my endorsement will be more of a suggestion, because I am going to set this post up in two tiers of viability and preference, from lower tier to those who deserve a vote in the upper tier.

Labor Day is over, so it’s time to get serious about this political thing.

Out of six candidates running on the GOP side for Delaware governor, there is a two-person lower tier and a four-person upper tier, all of whom make a compelling case to be governor but who also have at least one weakness which may be exploited.

As you might expect, the two on the lowest tier are the two who most qualify as “perennial” candidates. I suppose my biggest complaints about David Graham are the late start he got and the failure to explain why a vote for him this time would be good after he’s been rejected for office several times over the years. His biggest mistake to me was not setting up a website quickly enough. And while he has a few good ideas, it’s a year where he needed a more compelling case to cut through the clutter of five serious candidates.

You’ll notice I said five because I quickly determined R. Scott Walker is not a serious candidate. This is looking beyond the homemade signs strewn across the Delaware landscape and getting into how he presents himself to prospective voters. If he went by his given first name instead of Scott he would have topped out at 2% support in any of his elections given his erratic behavior and temperament, especially on social media. I heard him say in one of his frequent videos that this would be his last run if he lost. I don’t believe him, but let’s hope so and make sure to give him the opportunity to be a man of his word.

So I’ve eliminated two from contention, leaving the four who have ran serious, meaningful campaigns with the capability of ousting an incumbent governor.

I would say that David Bosco is running the most populist, people-based campaign for governor. As an ordinary businessman whose interest in politics seemingly dates back to the date this spring that he decided to run for governor, I’ve found him to be perhaps the most forward in addressing issues via his weekly video updates, which are conducted on social media each Sunday night. It’s through them I have found such insights as the thought that Delaware banks need to step up and help people with delinquent mortgages, employers which hire illegal immigrants should be fined for an initial offense and have business licenses suspended for a repeat, and each county should have its own committee in his administration, among other issues I’ve addressed previously. My only complaint about the videos is that they need to be buttoned up into about a 30-40 minute maximum – some have taken upward of two hours and that’s a lot for people to digest.

Going forward, of course, the question is whether Bosco would have the money to compete should he survive the primary. He’s taken his campaign about as far as a low-budget statewide campaign can go with the resources he has, but there are a lot of voters he needs to reach and only seven weeks to do it once the primary is over. We would have to see how his “smile and dial” approach is.

I’ve been comparing in my mind the campaign of State Senator Colin Bonini this time around to the 2014 campaign in Maryland by Larry Hogan. Hogan’s simplistic mantra was “Change Maryland” while Bonini’s new tagline is “we can fix this.”

The thing that drove me crazy about Hogan’s campaigns is the same thing that irks me about Bonini’s: a lack of specifics which allow me to flesh out his ideas. Unfortunately for him – and fortunately for me – the internet is forever so I went back to Colin’s 2016 campaign to figure out where he stands on several issues. (This is, of course, assuming he’s remained true to the principles he ran on.) My biggest fear, of course, is that the 2016 Bonini that lost begins to believe that he needs to work to the center to govern to win in 2020, when what the state needs is many of the conservative principles he touched upon four years ago. We’ve seen the failure of John Carney up close and personal, and there is strong medicine necessary to fix this. It also means I have to update a few sections using that information.

Republicans will have to ask themselves the question whether they believe a rematch of a 2016 race where Colin lost by 19 points – underperforming President Trump by over 18,000 votes and GOP Congressional nominee Hans Riegle by almost 5,500 – would be winnable this time. The fact that he shunned the state convention at a time when most Republicans were chafing over the shutdown also remains to me a curious move.

Living in his district, I can see there’s a lot to like about State Senator Bryant Richardson. An interesting idea he placed in the hopper is that of the “Health Care Act: A commitment to healthcare, preventive medicine, food education, and activities programs, and in particular making prescriptions accessible and affordable. Health Savings Accounts are a way to provide incentives for people to take care of their health and be rewarded for their efforts to eat right and exercise when advisable.” Not sure just how conservative, limited-government this is, but it is an appropriate task to attempt at a state level.

Out of the four main contenders Bryant is the most socially conservative, which will assist him in that demographic. And like Bonini, he would come with the advantage of knowing the Delaware General Assembly and its players. (Fun fact: if elected, Richardson or Bonini would be the first governor elected directly from the General Assembly since Sherman Tribbitt in 1972 – Tribbitt, however, previously was lieutenant governor before losing re-election.)

However, one thing I have noticed about the campaigns of Richardson (and, to a lesser extent, Bonini) is that they are running their primary campaign a little bit like an expanded Senate campaign, with a budget to match. Granted, both of them seem to have a little bit in personal reserves for a campaign but Bonini was carrying $60,000 in personal debt before and John Carney has six figures of special interest money in the bank.

On the other hand, Julianne Murray has raised the most money and done something insurgent campaigns by outsiders need to do: take steps to nationalize their race. Picking up an endorsement from Newt Gingrich (who is no stranger to the First State) is interesting but if it adds a little jingle to her bank account and a few hundred votes to her column on primary day it will be worth it.

There were a couple intangible items worth mentioning, as I wrote in my notes:

“We need to preserve voter integrity. It is disappointing that Carney signed the vote by mail bill which will jeopardize the integrity of our elections.” She can crucify one of her opponents, Bryant Richardson, for voting yes on that bill (Colin Bonini voted against it in the Senate.)

“Our state government should work with cities to adopt a uniform permitting code for small, ‘neighborhood’ businesses, creating fast-track permitting that allows them to open and grow.” This has peripheral benefit to me if they extend that to building, because Delaware has a ridiculous number of hoops to jump through. We generally count on our few Delaware projects to be bogged down someplace.

Here’s the bottom line on the GOP race as I see it:

If you want the “man of the people” candidate, vote David Bosco.

If you want the guy with the legislative experience who has stopped some bad legislation in its tracks, vote Colin Bonini.

If you want the most all-around conservative candidate, vote Bryant Richardson.

If you want a small business advocate and fighter for Constitutional rights, vote Julianne Murray.

Of all the bad things the pandemic has done, there is a small silver lining: I shudder to think what the primary field would have looked like if John Carney hadn’t failed his state under pressure. Until that chink in his armor appeared, we may have only had the likes of David Graham and R. Scott Walker to consider as token opposition to Carney as he cruised to a second term.

Republicans are now blessed with good choices – any of my top tier would be a better governor than the incumbent. It doesn’t matter because I don’t have a vote, but I think I would go with Bryant Richardson despite his age and a lack of statewide name recognition. He has an all-around agenda I think is the best for Delaware.

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