Book review: Sheriff Mike Lewis – Constitutional. Uncanceled. by Haven Simmons

This book came out last month, and it’s an intriguing one.
Cover image via Amazon.

One would think I don’t read books anymore, and to be honest I had no idea it had been over a half-decade since I reviewed one here on monoblogue. However, I believed this would be an interesting tome with which to renew the tradition, given the local connection of both subject and author, a retired communication professor from Salisbury University.

Moreover, I thought I could shine a unique light on the book as both a published author myself – someone who knows what it’s like to put together a book requiring hours of research and attempting to make it palatable to a reader who wishes to know more about the subject – and as a former constituent and eventual supporter of the title subject. There were quite a few names familiar to me dropped within the book; as one would imagine that drove a lot of my interest in reading a volume that my wife actually purchased for her enjoyment. (It’s why I’m waiting a week or so to put out this review so as not to give her any spoilers.)

Mike Lewis, however, was not just my sheriff when I lived in Wicomico County before crossing over to Delaware two-plus years ago. Arguably the national platform for drug interdiction and Second Amendment support he’s created via his frequent media appearances make Lewis the third-most recognizable figure of his generation with a Salisbury-area background, trailing only Terminator series actress Linda Hamilton and longtime Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel.

Furthermore, not only are Lewis and I almost perfect contemporaries in age and upbringing as we were both born in the same year and have at least some (in my case) amount of rural background, there’s always been that political aspect surrounding him – once he became a household word in Wicomico during his first campaign in 2006, swamping a four-person GOP primary field with 59.7% of the vote then winning handily that November, Mike got to a point where supporters would have jumped at the chance to help elect him to any higher office he wanted. One interesting tidbit I found in SMLCU is that he once promised his wife he would only serve two terms as Sheriff, but instead filed for a fifth last year. Should he be re-elected in 2022, though, he would match his immediate predecessor, the late Sheriff Hunter Nelms, with five electoral victories. Coming back for a sixth term in 2026 would give Lewis the opportunity to serve even longer than Nelms’s 22 years on the job. (An old-school conservative Democrat, Hunter was appointed in 1984 to finish an unexpired term and served through the 2006 election, where he opted not to seek another term.)

In an epilogue describing his book, Simmons recounts the three themes he was attempting to address: first, Lewis’s ambitions and accomplishments, second, those things that the policing profession entails, and lastly, “the big picture of government and the greater society that places law enforcement in a crucial, albeit vulnerable and often underappreciated position.” Out of the three, the book scores well on the first and last parts, but becomes a bit of a drag on the second portion, much of which comes out as a laundry list of offenses that takes up the book’s second, lengthy chapter – 66 pages out of a book that’s 177 pages, excluding epilogue, acknowledgements, end notes, and photos. (That extra material brings the book to 221 pages overall.)

The problem with that second chapter is that dozens of arrests are detailed, including one I really didn’t need a reminder of – the embarrassing Julie Brewington DUI incident from 2018. (I served with Brewington, a TEA Party leader in Wicomico, for my final two years on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee.) This list could have been honed down to perhaps a couple dozen of the biggest ones, and the final part of the chapter that mainly deals with incidents in the local schools and at Salisbury University should have been a standalone chapter, particularly as the book then transitions into the seminal case that has occurred under Lewis’s watch: the Sarah Foxwell murder case from Christmas 2009. (One departure from the book: while Lewis talks about tying yellow ribbons to mailboxes to denote yards that had been searched by property owners, I distinctly recall they were asking for red shirts or rags because I remember tying one of my old red shirts to a wagon wheel we kept at the end of the driveway where we then lived in the Foxwell search area so they knew we had checked our property. Perhaps – surprisingly – Mike’s memory is less clear than mine on that one, or maybe it was an either/or situation since most houses don’t have yellow ribbon on hand.)

However, once that slog of a second chapter is complete, the book moves along at a nice pace through the time period and events that made Lewis a household name among county sheriffs nationwide, among them the Foxwell case, assisting at the Baltimore riots in 2015 and becoming an impromptu spokesman for the police gathered there, and Mike’s advocacy for the Second Amendment. We also get a glimpse of then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign stop in nearby Berlin and the fact that Lewis initially backed Marco Rubio in the race thanks to a previous encounter with him on a drug interdiction fact-finding mission to South America.

SMLCU also gets its share of ink from a couple local politicians, most notably former Wicomico State’s Attorney turned Circuit Court Judge Matt Maciarello and State Senator Mary Beth Carozza, who gushed that, “Mike Lewis was and is the real deal when it comes to defining a top cop – a leader through and through, who day in and day out, leads by example.” While Wicomico County has strong leadership in that regard, it should be pointed out that there was a modest write-in campaign against him in 2018 that netted perhaps 7% of the vote – most likely from malcontents in the local “defund the police” crowd who don’t like Lewis’s aggressive stance toward crimefighting. I have news for them: it’s clear from this book that he doesn’t like them, either.

Unfortunately, all books have a cutoff date for production and printing, so one loose end that would have been worth following up and asking more about was the effort by Lewis to declare Wicomico County a Second Amendment preservation county last year. It ends with a vow to reintroduce the legislation this year, but the question is whether the county would take up something like that in an election year. There were a lot of disappointed people when Lewis backed away from the bill, which many believe is necessary as a counterweight to the overbearing government in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. The book quotes former Delegate Don Dwyer as claiming, “The role of the sheriff is to be an interposer between the law and the citizen.” Added Dwyer, “Sheriffs do have the power to nullify or ignore a law if it is unconstitutional.” Pointed out several times in the book is the fact the sheriff (as opposed to a police chief) is an elected official, thus the public trust is placed upon the officeholder with the accountability of election always in the background.

In sum, a tidier book may have gotten the point across with more brevity, but overall this is an interesting look at a law enforcement officer who has perhaps gone out of his way to have an outsized influence on people both inside and outside his chosen profession. I recall when Mike was first running that I worried about his outside interests:

Lewis is a wonderful teacher. I sat in last month’s WCRC meeting and was fascinated by Mike’s presentation. I’m not a cop but I learned a lot about traffic stops and drug interdiction from just 20 or 30 minutes listening to him speak. Had Hunter Nelms decided to run for another term, I’m certain Mike Lewis would be starting a second career traveling the country and even internationally as a teacher and expert on drug interdiction. It almost seems like a waste having him as a county sheriff when he could do a great job and touch many more people with a career path like he was contemplating.

For Wicomico County Sheriff,” August 20, 2006.

As it turns out, he was more of a multitasker than I gave him credit for – since I endorsed his chief Republican opponent for the primary before backing Lewis in the general – and the book overcomes its flaws to make most of those points.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I am (indirectly) quoted in this book as “a blogger.” Simmons quoted a blog post I did in 2013 at the Second Amendment townhall meeting held by Lewis, which is also credited in the end notes. I guess, thanks to this review, Haven now gets unsolicited advice for a second edition of this book should one come about.

Thinking the unthinkable

I don’t always agree with pundit Erick Erickson, but I remain a fan of his because he comes at things from a unique but conservative perspective. Erick was one of those #NeverTrump folks who eventually came around about the same time I did, since we both voted for him the second time. So while the conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump will run and win a second term, Erick pumps the brakes a little bit on the idea in two different respects and I think both deserve discussion.

Given that modern American presidents tend to win a second term, it would be silly for Republicans to restore President Trump to office wherein he could only stay four years. Republicans would be giving up the historic default of eight years for one man to serve two separate four year presidencies. The 2028 primary would begin before the 2024 presidential cycle even concluded. He’d be the lamest of ducks.

It would also be silly for the GOP to put in office a man who’d be no younger than Joe Biden is now. The GOP has a remarkable bench with deep experience. Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Doug Ducey, Kristi Noem, Ron DeSantis, and Mike Pence all have tremendous experience and all are younger than either President Trump or President Biden. Regardless of what you think about any of them individually, it would be a bit nuts to give up a potential eight years for any one of them for no more than four years for a second Trump term.

“It’s Only Sensical For the Nonsense,” Erick Erickson, January 18, 2022.

One could have accused the Democrats of the same thing by nominating a President who at one point openly eschewed a second term. Many thought Joe Biden’s job was that of picking a good vice president so she could be in office for ten years, with Biden stepping aside January 21, 2023. Obviously it could still happen but he definitely screwed up in picking the VP, who is reportedly hated by most of the Obama-era staffers in Biden’s White House.

And any of the names Erickson picked out would be good candidates for president, a light year’s improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office. I think the top three for me at a 41,000 foot level, without getting into the nuts and bolts of where they stand on particular pet issues, would be DeSantis, Cruz (who I voted for last time in the primary), and Pompeo. I eventually was won over by the policies of Donald Trump but I can see where people may be thinking supporting him in 2024 is a hard pass, which may be why Trump is trying to clear the field by planning so many events this year.

Erickson goes on to make just this point by citing an interesting poll number. This is a longer blockquote, I believe it’s a radio show transcript from this past Tuesday that he added to his Substack:

If you’re listening to me right now, and you are 50 years or older, particularly 55 and older, then you likely believe Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican party. If you are younger than that, if you’re in your 40’s, your 30’s, your 20’s, you are less likely to be looking forward to the return of Donald Trump. It is a demographic thing.

60% of Republicans say they want Donald Trump to run again. He is the leader of the party. That’s down from 90% in November of last year, or November now of 2020. It’s down from 75% after January of 2021 to 60%, according to the polling averages. Averages are a little better indicator than an individual poll. So slightly less than two thirds of Republicans believe Donald Trump is the leader of the party. That’s actually fallen significantly in a year and a half. The people most likely to still believe it are over 50. Younger people are moving on fairly rapidly within the GOP. Some of you are going to send me hate mail and say, “This is all because I hate Donald Trump.” Not true. Just follow along and listen to me here before you rush to your keyboards.

Donald Trump held a rally in Arizona (last) weekend. I only know about the Donald Trump rally in Arizona over the weekend because the people who hate Donald Trump felt compelled on social media, CNN, and MSNBC, to tell us all what he said. The people who are most likely to talk about Donald Trump at this moment are the diehard Trump supporters.

“The Trump Haters Have Only Trump,” Erick Erickson, January 18, 2022.

I wish I had the numbers to back this up, but I don’t recall there being a whole lot of push to bring Jimmy Carter back in 1984, although they got the next best thing, the sacrificial lamb in Carter VP Walter Mondale, nor did we have a call for another term of George H.W. Bush in 1996. That time we got a different retread in Bob Dole, who lost with Gerald Ford in 1976 to the aforementioned Carter/Mondale team.

Interestingly enough, I think Erick brought up at some point previously that both those incumbents (Carter and Bush 41) lost in part because they had primary challenges: Carter in 1980 from Ted Kennedy and GHWB in 1992 from Pat Buchanan. Even more interesting: those two elections were among the most influenced nationwide by third candidates on the November ballot – liberal Republican John Anderson in 1980 and eventual Reform Party standard-bearer H. Ross Perot in 1992, when he ran as a true independent. I don’t think my memory is completely shot yet on these long-ago campaigns, so obviously this poll cited above is a testament to Donald Trump’s popularity with his base, and certainly the GOP will back him should he be the 2024 nominee. The question is: should he be?

To play a devil’s advocate, there are two key factors that would point to a “anyone but Trump” campaign in 2024. Most obvious is Trump’s age, as he would be 78 on Election Day 2024. Assuming Joe Biden makes it that long, our nation goes into uncharted territory this November 20 as we will have an octogenarian as our President for the first time. Do we really want to go with a second in a row? I tell you, those Boomers just can’t let go of power (although, in truth, Joe Biden is a member of the Silent Generation as he was born after 1928 and before 1946 – he almost certainly will be the only such President. After Ronald Reagan, who was close to 70 when he took the oath of office, and the 64-year-old at his inauguration Bush 41, we then skipped the Depression generation by going young with the Baby Boomer Bill Clinton.)

But the second is personality: Trump can be grating to some as he comes across as narcissistic. There are many who like that take-charge, take no crap aspect in the guy, but Joe Biden won the presidency because he convinced a number of mail-in ballot cards that he would be uniter to succeed the divisive Trump, who had really only divided the nation because the media told us so. And after at least eight years (some may argue we’ve been like this since Bush v. Gore) of divisiveness, surely there are Americans who like the America First, working-class everyman idea of the Trump Republican Party but think it’s time to move on from some of the figures who have divided us. At least in the first week of his term, we got an example from Glenn Youngkin in Virginia; however, the new governor’s bigger tests will be in dealing with what his legislature dishes out since the House of Delegates is Republican but the Senate remains Democrat because no seats were contested last year. (Had that been up for grabs, Virginia may well have switched from a Democrat trifecta to a Republican one overnight.)

Perhaps the Trump strategy is to run again with a young VP he can count on to carry on his legacy for another eight years, since there’s no way we’re repealing the 22nd Amendment anytime soon. (Trump only won 30 states the first time, and such a repeal – which was also discussed during Reagan’s, and to a far lesser extent, Obama’s second term – isn’t going to grab any of the states where Trump lost both elections.)

Someday historians may find out that the 2020 election was our “WTF” moment, the time when all logic seemed to go out the window and Americans voted for a slow national suicide. If we don’t want to fall like Rome, we need to make a course correction and it’s going to have to last at least eight years with a compliant Congress and court system that has restoring our Constitutional system in mind. If Donald Trump is the guy to lead that effort, more power to him – but he can’t be the only one.

Update: If you thought Erick Erickson was bad, you should get a load of what Ann Coulter had to say about Trump’s chances in 2024, comparing him to how Sarah Palin flamed out before the 2012 campaign. Remember when she used to be one of the biggest Trump backers?

An unconventional call

I pointed this out back in October when the event occurred, but one of the groups represented at the Unify Delaware Festival was the Convention of States organization. As I said back then, “This group is seeking a Convention of States to address term limits, a balanced budget, and government overreach. Problem is getting 34 states in our (supposedly) federalist republic to agree that’s a bug and not a feature.”

The CoS has been an idea that’s been around since our founding – obviously, since it’s covered in Article V of our Constitution – but it’s become an advocacy group now led by one of the original founders of the TEA Party movement, Mark Meckler. His rendition, explained here in a lengthy “pocket guide,” calls for a convention to discuss three key issues: imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms for office for its officials and members of Congress. More or less, these concepts were some of those things original members of the TEA Party fought for before the movement became a grift – in fact, Meckler resigned from the TEA Party Patriots (which he co-founded) in 2012. In Chapter 9 of Rise and Fall I wrote:

After a three-year run at the top of the Tea Party Patriots, co-founder Mark Meckler resigned in February, 2012, citing “discomfort with the way the financial affairs of TPP have been handled… I believe that TPP is fiscally irresponsible in the way that it spends and manages donor monies.” Meckler also complained that, as treasurer, “I have been excluded from the distribution of critical financial information, and critical discussions about the finances of the organization.”

from The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party.

This particular call has now been adopted by fifteen states of the required 34, but progress has been slowed to a crawl as no state has passed this resolution since 2019. However, there is CoS legislation ongoing in 17 states, which would bring it up to 32 out of 34 if they should somehow pass it. Currently, Nebraska is debating becoming the 16th state and, as CoS points out, there is an interesting group of big-government suspects lined up to oppose the bill. On the other hand, it has a pleasingly varied list of endorsers from all over the conservative spectrum, and over the next week or so they will concentrate a push in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

They are trying to kickstart the movement in other ways as well, debuting a commercial on Newsmax TV Saturday in conjunction with President Trump’s Arizona rally that night. Unfortunately, CoS completely missed an opportunity for further distribution by not placing a video of it on their website. That is a grievous unforced error in my estimation, since I don’t spend my day watching Newsmax whether Trump is on there or not. You have a blog – use it!

In essence, the Convention of States operates on the principle that Congress has no interest in limiting its own power, and that would be the correct interpretation – how many times did a Congressional hopeful come to a TEA Party group promising to change the system yet, three terms later, become just another captive of the Swamp? But it’s not an easy road: if you assume that every state that voted for Donald Trump at least once is a candidate for adoption, that’s only 30 states. You would need four “liberal” states to join in as well, and really the only one that is much of a possibility is New Hampshire, which somehow never voted for Trump but is otherwise a GOP trifecta. A flip of two seats in Virginia’s Senate next year may allow the Commonwealth to be state number 32 in this projection, but it’s going to take a sea change in other states to get them over the hump – and that assumes no states rescind their various calls for convention, which occurred in Delaware a few years ago. (They had a balanced budget amendment call, which was one of the CoS goals. And yes, that was a vote that made my first Delaware edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project as HCR60, so we know who is still on the proper side.)

Unfortunately, too many people still work under two misguided beliefs: one being that the government is actually looking out for them – as opposed to using your labor and your vote to further their own personal fiefdoms – and the other that the federal government will reform itself. Well, if the last century or so isn’t proof enough that the feds like amassing more control over the people and won’t stop even if you say pretty please, I’m not sure I can convince you otherwise. There are a lot of good people in government who are there for the right reasons, but it doesn’t take too many bad apples to spoil the whole bunch.

But in my estimation this may be the proper way to go, since the TEA Party tried using the political route and really didn’t make much everlasting change. Now it may not matter, convention or not, because there is a group in power that’s been ignoring the Constitution anyway, but we can try this method first before other means become necessary. Just ask Thomas Jefferson.

The perils of redistricting

I noticed on the news the other day that my home state of Ohio had its proposed Congressional redistricting map tossed out by a 4-3 Ohio Supreme Court ruling, with the Republican chief justice joining the three Democrat justices in claiming the map was, “a plan that is infused with undue partisan bias and that is incomprehensibly more extremely biased than the 2011 plan that it replaced.”

I’m going to be the first to admit that the Ohio Republicans in 2010, after being infused with the energy of the TEA Party, made it their mission to wipe out Democrat representation. One memorable piece of gerrymandering was shoestringing the Toledo-based Ninth Congressional District (my former home district) along the south shore of Lake Erie to the edge of Cleveland in order to place two Democrat representatives, Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich, in the same district. When both sought the seat in 2012, Kaptur prevailed and all but ended Kucinich’s political career.

So the Republicans have to go back to the drawing board, and in an interesting twist of state law, maps that pass without bipartisan support may only be left in place for four years. And the Ohio ruling gave yet more ammunition to Democrats to claim we need a national standard – enter my old uber-regressive friend Rick Weiland, who e-mailed me to say:

Republicans are only months away from rigging a decade of elections.

(snip)

In 2016, the Democratic governor of North Carolina won re-election with 51% of the vote, the same year Donald Trump won the presidency with slightly less than 51%. Yet, even though Democrats are winning approximately 50% of the votes statewide, they’re still ending up in a permanent minority in the state legislature.

Thanks to all of our hard work, Georgia has become a quintessential battleground state. But thanks to Republican gerrymandering, Republicans are expected to win 9 or 10 of Georgia’s 14 congressional seats. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, which has seen its demographics shift from 90% white in 1990 to 30% white today, this is not at all recognized by the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature.

And, in Ohio, where Republicans win about 53% of the vote, the GOP is favored to win 80% of congressional seats.

“Freedom to Vote Act would ban partisan gerrymandering,” e-mail from Rick Weiland, January 11, 2022.

You can throw out that last sentence for the moment. But let’s talk about how people vote, and I’m going to take a look at Maryland for the moment because, unlike Delaware, they actually have Congressional districts.

In the last three Congressional elections, this is the share of the aggregate Congressional vote each party has received in the state of Maryland.

  • 2020: Democrats 64.7%, Republicans 34.8%, others 0.4%
  • 2018: Democrats 65.3%, Republicans 32.3%, others 2.4%
  • 2016: Democrats 60.4%, Republicans 35.5%, others 4.0%

In that time period, Democrats have held consistent around 55% of registered voters, while the GOP slipped slightly but stayed around 25%. Given that ratio one can assume unaffiliated voters split roughly 50-50, although in 2016 it looks like they tilted somewhat toward the GOP and slightly favored Democrats in 2018. (Another factor: there were fewer third party aspirants on the 2020 ballot, as the Libertarians and Greens didn’t field candidates. That may have had something to do with ballot access issues for the minor parties in Maryland, which has a stricter criteria for access than Delaware does.)

To make a long story short, in a given election between two candidates statewide in Maryland the split should run 65-35 in favor of the Democrats – in fact, 2020 was a perfect example of this. However, when you split the state into districts you’ll find that there are pockets of heavier Republican registration, and in 2010 the Democrats (who control redistricting) chose to pack as many Republican stalwarts as possible into the First District by switching portions of GOP-dominated Carroll County into the First and burying the rest in a tide of MoCo Democrats by placing it in the Eighth. This was done in order to swamp the formerly-Republican Sixth District in a separate crush of MoCo Democrats by eliminating its Frederick and Carroll county portions and instead thrusting it further into MoCo. (And as I’ll note momentarily, it worked.)

In the 2010 district map, centrist Anne Arundel County was mercilessly jigsawed into four different districts, while the more populous Democrat enclaves of Baltimore City and Montgomery County were sliced into three and Prince George’s into a hacksawed two based on the party’s need for dominance, maintaining through the decade a 7-1 advantage gained when the Sixth District flipped from Republican to Democrat thanks to the additional leftist MoCo voters. Once the map was approved, all but one of the changes in Maryland’s Congressional delegation during the decade came from retirement or death, as the only incumbent to lose at the ballot box was Sixth District Republican Roscoe Bartlett in 2012 – the chosen victim of Democrat redistricting. The same occurred in 2002 after that round of Democrat-controlled redistricting, when the Second District seat previously held by Bob Ehrlich (who won his run for governor) and Eighth District seat held by Connie Morella (who lost a re-election bid) flipped, changing Maryland from a 4-4 state to a 6-2 Democrat state. Aside from the Democrats gaining the First District for a term with Frank Kratovil in 2008 before he lost to Andy Harris, that’s the way it stayed.

This time around it’s the aforementioned Republican Andy Harris who is the target of Democrats, as they opted to not pack Republicans into the First and instead brought it back close to the configuration that gave the First District Kratovil in 2008 as part of Anne Arundel was once again placed in the First. (Additionally, Harris no longer lives in the district, which is now completely outside his home in Baltimore County.) Anne Arundel gets a slight break this time, though, as they are only in three districts, as is Baltimore City. MoCo now has the distinction of being cut in jagged fourths by the map.

By comparison, the map presented by Governor Larry Hogan’s redistricting committee (made up of equal portions Republicans, Democrats, and independents) came up with a Congressional map that respected county boundaries as much as possible. No county was chopped into more than three districts: in Baltimore County, only the extreme southern tip was placed in the city-centric Seventh District while the rest went into a Second District exclusive to the county and the First District. Meanwhile, Montgomery County had its own district in the Eighth, with a little piece of the western end of the county staying in the Sixth District (as has been traditional) and the rest – a slice along its eastern border – joining the northern half of Prince George’s County in the Fourth District. But since that would likely be a 6-2 Democrat split, it wasn’t good enough for the rabidly partisan General Assembly – never mind that a truly representative state of Maryland would probably shake out as a 5-3 Democrat majority based on their voting pattern.

(As you’ll see in its 160-plus pages, this Hogan redistricting committee proposal also covered state legislative districts, with the key change the elimination of multiple-member Delegate districts. The Democrats hated that, too.)

In circling back to Weiland’s plea – which echoes that of the most rabid Congressional Democrats – one has to wonder where the energy for leading by example went to. What happened to criticism of states like Maryland, Illinois, or California, where Republicans are gerrymandered out of any semblance of power? This is particularly true when Marylanders were presented with an alternative that was more fair.

The problem with pretty much any district map done geographically is that keeping things compact and contiguous means that you get urban areas that vote 90% Democrat (and have enough population for a district of their own) surrounded by suburban and rural areas that swing 70-30 or more the other way. To take a state like Ohio, you could easily get a 10-5 Republican split by just keeping the large three-C (Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland) urban counties in their own districts, plus maybe one that combines the Akron/Canton/Youngstown area and one based in Toledo. Just divide the rest of the state 10 ways, and it could pass muster geographically. Move north into Michigan: give the city of Detroit its own district and split up the suburbs into thirds or fourths – those are your D districts in Michigan. Given the size of the other cities in the state, there’s not enough urban area for a Democrat-dominated district.

(Turns out they were pretty close, giving Detroit two districts and the suburbs three, including combining the downriver Detroit suburbs and Ann Arbor area for a third strong D district. But the state is being sued by the “Detroit Caucus” because the city lost a seat from the hack job previously in place.)

Perhaps the best example of this approach is in Nebraska, where one district is basically the city of Omaha and close-in suburbs, another is the Omaha exurbs and the college town of Lincoln, and the third is everything else. In theory, all three representatives could now live within about 25 miles of Omaha – but one would have a heckuva district to cover. (The change from before is that the “rest of the state” district now comes close to Omaha – prior to this year the Lincoln district completely surrounded the Omaha one.)

What I do know is that the solution doesn’t lie in Congress. When the hypocrisy of ignoring the beam in your eye to focus on the speck in your brother’s eye (as described in Matthew 7:3) is so rampant there, they aren’t the answer. If the regressives had their way, districts would pinwheel out of urban areas in just such a manner that centrist and Republican voters would be shut out by their urban counterparts – who would also be in charge of counting the votes, and since urban areas always seem to report last, they would know just the margin of “mail-in votes” they need to create.

This is why Congress should not be in charge of their own elections – it’s bad enough what we sometimes have to put up with at the state level.

The J6 anger is still smoldering

A year ago, the nation watched in shock as an event I figured would draw less than six figures morphed into an invasion of the “people’s house.” Having said that, the government persevered and did what it came to do that afternoon a few hours later, certifying that Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 election in spite of the doubts of its legitimacy shared by millions. (Sort of like the 2016 election, which those same people who swear up and down that Joe Biden really racked up 81 million votes continue to contend was the election that was actually stolen.) If J6 was a coup, I can’t think of one which failed more miserably in overthrowing the government.

However, maybe J6 was the coup but the target wasn’t those in charge. Perhaps we are still undergoing a slow-motion coup which began with the release and spread of a biological agent at a time when the American economy was firing on all cylinders. We still seem to be stuck at times in that fifteen days to stop the spread, and we see that’s not working as thousands who endured the “jab” and its various side effects are still catching the Wuhan flu, along with many who chose to trust their natural immunity or would not receive the vaccine for legitimate physical or religious reasons. Fortunately, the vast majority survive although too many have not.

At this time in 2020, we were just going through the latter stages of a long presidential campaign that was being slugged out on the Democrat side between the poll leader Bernie Sanders and two others close behind: Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. And while Donald Trump trailed in the polls, it was close enough to suggest a repeat of 2016. But then the CCP virus showed up and all the voting rules were changed. Imagine that: we went through how many flu epidemics over the years but no one ever decreed the election rules needed to change until Donald Trump was in office.

But somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory I seem to recall hearing that the election would actually play out like it did. The cynic in me believes this survey and story was solely intended to set up the steal by claiming Donald Trump’s election night lead would be overcome by a deluge of late mail-in votes, and what do you know? That’s just how it played out. Imagine that.

It’s a lot easier to steal an election if you have 51% of ballots cast as mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania than a measly 4%. Or 50% in Georgia as opposed to 6%. Or 67% in Michigan rather than 25%. Or 57% in Wisconsin instead of 9%. Or, perhaps, 47% in Delaware rather than 4%. As the survey noted, “Trump leads by a remarkable 68% to 23% among those who say they are very unlikely to vote by mail, and by a still robust 50% to 39% among all but those who say they are very likely to vote by mail. Biden, however, leads among all likely voters by 50% to 40%.” Hey, since the “expected” result was a Biden win, why not manipulate the results to produce what was anticipated anyway? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And if part of addressing the issue involves holding a few hundred criminals whose offense was in essence participating in the same style of “peaceful protest” that occurred in cities around the country in the summer and fall of 2020 in jail for a year to be an example, more’s the better, right?

So color me skeptical that Democrats are really trying to franchise the rest of us by having a federal takeover of elections. If anything, it’s time for states to clean up their voter rolls by making those on the list affirmatively reply they are who they say they are and eliminate ballot harvesting and drop boxes: as we see now in Georgia, that was a surefire invitation to fraud that probably cost Donald Trump the state and a Republican majority in the Senate.

And just remember, the polls are out now, and there’s expected to be a Republican takeover of the House and perhaps the Senate this fall. So if the results don’t work out that way, we will know why, won’t we?

I just hope it doesn’t require a replay of Athens 1946 where bullets had to fly to have ballots counted correctly to get the true results and oust a Democrat machine.

The bite of inflation

Let’s begin 2022 by talking about an issue that has bullied its way into our national consciousness in the past year, inflation. All of us are paying more for various items, but in my case it’s measured with a quirky but useful yardstick.

I have a Friday lunch routine that began a couple years ago. In my “real” job I work four nine-hour days Monday to Thursday and have a four-hour Friday, meaning my weekend generally begins at lunchtime on Friday. So to start my weekend I go to Chick-Fil-A and order the same thing each week: a spicy deluxe meal with a side salad in lieu of the fries and a diet Dr. Pepper. (In and of itself, that’s a routine because it’s about the only time I drink Dr. Pepper. The one thing I don’t like about Chick-Fil-A is that they pour Coke products and I’m a Pepsi guy from way back.)

Because I always get the same thing, I know exactly how much it will cost before they ring it up. Thus, I was surprised a few weeks back when the number increased for the second time this year – sure enough, a look at my old bank statements confirmed this. Back in April that combo set me back $8.93, and over the summer it went up to $9.29, which was the number I was expecting. Instead, they told me it was $9.89!

Doing some hasty public school math with my phone’s calculator, the first increase was 4.03% while the second was 6.46%. Combined, in the space of about six or seven months, the price for my meal went up 10.75% – that’s pretty steep, because I don’t recall my income going up 10.75%. (I did get a raise in 2021, but not that much.)

Of course, there are costs involved, and the restaurant wants to stay profitable. So the increase has to be passed along to the consumer somehow, and since CFA hasn’t been cutting corners on the food they’re forced to charge more for it.

First and foremost, the smiling lady behind the Chick-Fil-A counter almost certainly has a higher wage now than she did when the year began, as do all her behind-the-scenes helpers. More importantly, the cost of the raw materials have gone up as chicken isn’t so cheap anymore, nor is produce or bread for the bun. It costs more to power all the food service equipment required to bring my sandwich and salad to my waiting hands.

But our nation got used to inflation that ran maybe 1-2%, meaning we might see just a modest increase every year. Now that we have so much funny money floating about, however, we got saddled with two significant hikes in six months. (And yes, I realize all this started with the last president. But he only did one stimmy, in reaction to the forced shutdown of “non-essential” businesses and complete revision of the service model for restaurants like CFA. In and of itself that was a gross overreaction, but I digress…)

Obviously I’m diving into the anecdotal here, but as a busy family we eat out a lot: usually three to four times a week for dinner. So we are attuned to the steady rise in prices that’s seemingly accelerated since the CCP virus began to take its toll on the restaurant industry and its players almost two years ago. It doesn’t matter if they’re chains like Chick-Fil-A or Texas Roadhouse or local restaurants such as Laurel Pizzeria, Pizza King, or La Tolteca in Salisbury – every time we go there it seems some of the prices have gone up a quarter here and 50 cents there. We get that costs are going up and food service is a brutal business model right now, but there has to be an end somewhere.

Perhaps if we stop with this artificial stimulation of the economy where valueless dollars are printed, we can eventually get back to that nice, predictable, and steady 1-2% annual increase (and bring back the period of not so long ago where wage increases were faster than inflation.) Otherwise, my over/under on my Friday lunchtime meal by the end of this new year is $11.50. Any takers?

We can make a partial course correction in 10 months. Hopefully some inspiring candidates for said change will step forth in the interim here in Delaware.

A PINO in our midst

This is just strikingly amusing to me.

I was perusing social media the other night when I saw this RedState article mentioned. Writer Mike Miller got his chuckle when he saw that the new derogatory term for progressives was to call those insufficiently down with the cause a PINO, for “progressive in name only.” Gee, I wonder where that came from?

But I had my own chortle when I saw who made the PINO list put together by the far-left advocates RootsAction: none other than the notorious LBR. (Yeah, it doesn’t flow but I don’t want to write out Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester another six times here.) This is what they indicted her for:

Lisa Blunt Rochester has served as Delaware’s lone congresswoman since 2017, after filling the seat vacated by Democratic Gov. John Carney; she made history as the first African-American and first woman elected to Congress from Delaware. While Delaware is a blue state (D+6, choosing Biden by 58 percent in 2020), Blunt Rochester has consistently been one of the most conservative members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Heralded as an “emerging player” in congressional healthcare policy, Blunt Rochester has not supported Jayapal’s Medicare for All legislation. Notably, Blue Cross/Blue Shield is among her top campaign contributors this cycle. In 2018, the insurance industry sector was Blunt Rochester’s top campaign funder, donating $105,226.

Blunt Rochester also failed to support either Green New Deal measure, and did not back the COVID-vaccine TRIPS waiver push. In 2020 and 2021, Blunt Rochester voted against 10 percent “defense” budget cuts, while voting for military spending hikes. She also voted last year to reauthorize government surveillance powers, and voted to expand those powers in 2018. According to the Open Secrets website, she receives substantial campaign donations from “defense/aerospace,” pharmaceuticals, “pro-Israel,” and oil and gas sectors.

Strikingly, Blunt Rochester was one of only two Progressive Caucus members who voted with Republicans in 2018 to weaken banking regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act, the Democrats’ fairly limited 2010 Wall Street reform law.

“Meet the PINOs: Progressives in Name Only,” Christopher D. Cook (edited by Jeff Cohen), Roots Action, undated.

Apparently membership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus is not enough – I guess these people actually expect her to vote with them to eliminate the military despite the fact she has a significant Air Force installation in her state and against the Green New Deal when her state is at the very bottom when it comes to producing “green” energy. And we won’t even talk about how Delaware is a banking state.

One thing I have learned that the radical Left knows is that all Congressmen have one thing on their minds: getting re-elected. They can pay lip service to having a higher calling all they want, but unless they’re really in it for a 2- to 4-year term it’s very likely they would like to either make the House a career or a stepping stone to even higher office. This easily explains why LBR is trying to play both sides against the middle: given her claim to fame and reason for being is that she’s the first black woman to represent Delaware, I don’t see a lot of conviction for anything except pandering for votes. It’s like you can tell she’s just waiting for Tom Carper to finally retire to take his seat; after all, that’s the Delaware Way.

It looks like the Roots Action folks did a lot of research, but they seemed to have missed something I didn’t: progressives on a statewide ballot in Delaware get smoked. Don’t take my word for it, though – you can ask Kerri Evelyn Harris and Jessica Scarane, wherever they are, because they were the last two challengers from the Left who received 35.42% and 27.15%, respectively, in taking on our two incumbent Senators who they deemed as not progressive enough. The trend is the wrong way there, brother – and you’re in even more hot water by being racist and sexist by taking on a woman of color.

So what does that mean for the GOP? Probably not a darn thing, since LBR’s membership in the Progressive Caucus has long since been baked into the cake. In fact, there are some circles in this state where the regressives being upset with her would be a campaign enhancement. Moreover, in perusing the state’s liberal blogs (particularly Blue Delaware and Delaware Liberal) I’ve noticed this study hasn’t come up as a topic of conversation – oh, Delaware Liberal has bellyached about LBR every so often but not obsessively – so I don’t think they’ll be calling her out on this because they’re trying to give her a glide path toward a date with the Senate in 2024.

I can think of a lot of better candidates for that post, and that’s even without a Laurel phone book in front of me.

Late edit: You may notice that I did a soft opening of the Campaign 2022 sidebar widget yesterday. Included is LBR, even though I haven’t seen an official announcement that she’s in.

China as the Pandora’s box

This was the piece I alluded to in my odds and ends post that was promoted. As you’ll see, it’s more than a few paragraphs’ worth of thought.

A few weeks ago I was reminded of something by a familiar group, the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Their missive that day was that China was about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its ascension into the World Trade Organization, and needless to say AAM didn’t see it as an occasion worth celebrating. Quoting their longtime President Scott Paul:

It’s pat nowadays to point out how badly America’s political elites got China’s entry into the WTO wrong. But it’s astounding to reflect on just how wrong they were.

We were told that China would open its market to U.S. companies to sell their products. Instead, China has largely left its market closed, and those who are able to do business there must hand over their intellectual property in return.

We were told that China would play by the rules of global trade. Instead, time and time again, China has broken those rules, largely without consequence, costing millions of American jobs.

We were told that China would liberalize, moving from a planned economy and authoritarian state to a free market and a democracy. Instead, China has used central economic planning to dominate global industries and is now exporting its totalitarian model around the world. People are arguably less free in China now than they were 20 years ago, something that is certainly true in places like Hong Kong and Xinjiang, where China’s government is overseeing a genocide. 

Yes, it was a mistake for the U.S. to vote to allow China to join the WTO. But, while we can’t go back to 2001, we can begin to right the wrongs of 20 years ago.

Scott Paul, President, Alliance for American Manufacturing

If you thought it was bad twenty years ago, imagine the fateful decision made fifty years ago to allow President Nixon to visit China. At the time, though, Nixon’s visit (the first by an American President to the People’s Republic of China) was more about keeping peace, since the Vietnam War was ongoing and Korean War wasn’t all that far in the rearview mirror.

Getting to know each other better will reduce the possibility of miscalculation and that we have established, because we do have an understanding. And I know them, and they know me. And, I hope that would be true of whoever happens to be sitting in this office in the future. That means that there will be talking and rather than having that, that, uh, inevitable road, uh, of suspicion and miscalculation, which could lead to war. A miscalculation which, incidentally, led to their intervention in Korea, which might have been avoided had there been this kind of contact at that time.

Richard Nixon, February 29, 1972

Somewhere in the next decade or so, though, China began to realize that one way of improving their standard of living (and keeping hundreds of millions of peasants out of starvation) was to adopt a limited amount of capitalism by becoming the world’s manufacturer. Their three key assets were very cheap labor, a willingness to build factories to suit overseas interests without the need to worry about those pesky domestic environmental laws, and reasonably-priced shipping to the American market. A few years later, the hollowing out of American manufacturing was well underway as a stream of manufacturing jobs flowed across the Pacific from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Erie, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Flint, Milwaukee, and other Rust Belt communities. In essence, Paul’s indictment of China is correct.

Yet while some amount of manufacturing has indeed left China for greener pastures around the globe, they remain the predominant widget maker for the world. You pretty much can’t shop for anything anywhere without running across a product bearing those three infamous words, “Made in China.” Not only that, they’re tightening the noose on the rest of us because they’ve cornered the market on a number of valuable rare earth commodities, including those we left behind in Afghanistan – they quickly filled that vacuum, as they have in a number of other places where they’ve taken advantage of Third World debtor nations. Just like when a Mafia don does a favor for you, someday that deed will have to be repaid with a lot of interest.

And since I have an aversion to dealing with nations that point missiles at us, I’ve made it a priority on this site to promote “made in America.” Why else would I keep tabs on a group backed by the steelworkers’ union?

(There’s a bit of good news on the “Made in America” front, though – we may have one of the world’s largest deposits of lithium within our shores, if the environmentalists don’t find a way to derail its mining. Battery manufacturers would like that.)

I used to be a free trader, and perhaps at some distant time I may become so again. But that day will only come when everyone plays by the same rules and can be trusted, and China fails both those tests. In short – and it’s definitely against my nature to think and say this, but it has to be said – they’re lying Communist sacks of shit who would like nothing better than to stab us in the back and should be treated accordingly.

Perhaps if we hadn’t opened that Pandora’s box a half-century ago, China would still be struggling to feed their hungry, we might not be dealing with the Wuhan flu, and there may still be thousands of American factories in operation. But short-sightedness and greed seems to have won the day, much to our detriment.

Odds and ends number 108

It’s an end-of-year special on my e-mail box as I go out with the old and in with the new. You know the drill: I give you a paragraph or three on subjects that pique my interest enough to write on but not enough for a full post.

The two-tier Delaware system

I’m going to start out this one with part of an e-mail blast I received several weeks back from District 36 representative Bryan Shupe, the opening paragraphs of which read:

The debate over whether indicted State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness should resign or take a leave of absence from her post highlights a larger systematic failure on the issue of government accountability and transparency in Delaware.

Over the last 18 months, we have seen five Delaware elected officials accused of misconduct. While every citizen should find this disturbing, almost as troubling is that each case has been treated differently. As it stands, legislators pick and choose which colleagues will be held accountable and which ones will be subject to a lesser standard.

I do not believe justice is something that should be decided on an arbitrary sliding scale, based on the personal whims of legislators or the political affiliation of the accused. There should be clear protocols for handling all cases of official misconduct involving elected officials in an equitable fashion.

“Reform is needed to rebuild public trust,” State Rep. Bryan Shupe, October 28, 2021.

Indeed, the double- and even triple-standard is troubling, but all of the circumstances are different, too. In the case of McGuiness, the accusations are damning but she hasn’t had her day in court yet, either. (And to be honest, these charges aren’t really on a Cuomo level. Ask yourself just how many Democrats somehow finagle taxpayer-paid sinecures for their family and friends.) And the rumor has been floating around out there that this batch of dirt was dug up on her because her auditing is getting too close for comfort for those who have taken full advantage of the Delaware Way, if ya know what I mean – wink wink, nudge nudge.

You may also recall Shupe was the sponsor of a voting bill that got left on the cutting room floor after Republicans came to their senses and bounced the Democrats’ mail-in balloting bill last spring. Shupe’s common sense bill was intended to eliminate a practice where, in some municipalities (including Laurel) the voter registration for town elections is separate from those of state and federal elections – so people who think they are registered get shut out of the process. I had never heard of such a thing so this proposal made sense and deserved support, not a three-year-old’s tantrum.

Bad information

About the same time I got Shupe’s assessment of a two-tiered justice system, I got wind of a two-tiered media system.

A piece by Michael Watson of the Capital Research Center discussed the Good Information project, an attempt by far-left entities to open new media markets with websites that claim to be “non-partisan” but will provide a steady diet of pro-Democrat news. (Just like every other “mainstream” media outlet.) Here’s the money paragraph:

As part of the creation of Good Information, the group is acquiring McGowan’s former liberal agitprop network, Courier Newsroom. Courier Newsroom was a front for ACRONYM, operating what the left-leaning OpenSecrets called “a network of websites emulating progressive local news outlets. Courier has faced scrutiny for exploiting the collapse of local journalism to spread ‘hyperlocal partisan propaganda.’”

Michael Watson, “Onetime Disinformation Donors Back Left-Wing Propaganda Targeting Disinformation,” Capital Research Center, October 28, 2021.

I took a look at Courier Newsroom and it’s actually a professional-looking site that links to eight subsites – all in swing states: Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Their tagline is that they’re “Building a more informed, engaged, and representative America” but in order to do that they need to pull themselves off the left gutter and move over about 20 boards. (A little bowling lingo there. Sometimes straighter IS greater.)

Meanwhile, shouldn’t this be something someone on the right side of the spectrum would be doing? People actually believe these propaganda sites.

Another great piece by Watson appeared in The Daily Signal in November and should be required reading for my friends at Patriots for Delaware because it talks about how the unions elect school board members.

Hitting me where I live

This one comes ohsoclose to being promoted to its own post, but I think I can condense like Readers Digest. Here’s the key pull quote from a story I saw back in October.

On Sept. 16, 2021, Delaware lawmakers unveiled a plan to address a much-needed infrastructure improvement project – implementing high-speed broadband across the entire state. This $110 million investment was made possible with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and if completed will make Delaware the first in the nation to make wired broadband available to every home and business in the state.

(snip)

With the proper guidelines in place, getting to 100 percent connectivity is a reasonable goal. The strategic plan estimates that the number of Delawareans without access to high-speed broadband could be brought down by approximately 87 percent if providers were to extend their existing networks just half a mile from their current cutoff points. This approach is called “edge-out.” This approach lends itself to utilizing multiple means of connecting through cable, fiber, fixed wireless, mobile, wireline DSL, and satellite broadband. The plan also suggests using the funding to replace old and failing equipment to ensure that the investment is something that will benefit all Delaware residents for years to come.

Kathleen Rutherford, “The Last Mile: Can Delaware Deliver?”, A Better Delaware, October 29, 2021.

We are a family who is in a broadband desert. Currently I oscillate between a cellular tower-based service provider and phone hotspot depending on time of day and conditions – in the evening the hotspot tends to be faster. We live too far from a Bloosurf tower for it to be viable and, to be honest, our friends who live near their tower say their service is about worthless anyway.

Prior to this move, we had wired service through a cable provider, paying for it as part of a bundle. But there is a wrinkle out here in that we have Delaware Electric Co-Op as our electricity provider and I found out that Choptank Electric Co-Op, which has a similar customer makeup two miles from me across the border in Maryland, offers “broadband over fiber optic connections directly to the home.” So I asked my state representative, Tim Dukes, about this and so far I have no answer.

As far as I’m concerned, for a home internet setup “fixed wireless, mobile, wireline DSL, and satellite broadband” is trash. If you want to spend the $110 million wisely, let DEC (which primarily serves a rural area) wire our homes like Choptank is doing.

The merger

Longtime readers of mine probably know more about iVoterGuide than the average person. The group, which rates federal and state candidates for office from a Biblical perspective, recently announced it was merging itself with American Family Association Action. Debbie Wuthnow, President of iVoterGuide, explained that, “The need for voters to know accurate information about candidates on their ballots has never been greater, and the merger will allow iVoterGuide to immediately expand our coverage to include federal, statewide, and state legislative races in 35 states for the 2022 Primary Elections.  And we’ll continue to grow our coverage of judicial and school board races in key districts.”

As I found out a few years ago in helping them out – a “neat experience” – iVoterGuide is very thorough in their assessment of candidates and they do a reasonably good job of pegging where they stand on the political spectrum. So I wish them the best of luck with their merger, and if they need someone to help assess their Delaware candidates I’m happy to be of assistance.

More advice

I’m sure I have told you about ammo.com since their content pops up on this site from time to time, usually as an odd or an end. So I guess I have an imitator, at least according to this e-mail I’ve now received twice.

Monoblogue,

I came across your blog while doing a little research on a couple of Maryland’s gun laws, and your blog popped in my newsfeed. I appreciate many of your political views. As a Trump supporter, I thought (redacted) would be a good resource for (my site). The recoil score it provides is pretty cool. Haven’t seen it before. Do you shoot? I appreciated your content. 

More fun e-mail.

Jordan, yes, I received your e-mail. Twice.

I’m glad you appreciate many of my political views, but I don’t think the resource is really something I can use. Now if we’re talking paid advertising or sponsorship from the overarching site, well, that’s a different conversation. (Since I’m probably not in line for that Soros money discussed by Michael Watson above.) And to answer your question, I do shoot off my mouth (rhetorically) all the time.

So since I have closed up the e-mail box now (it’s much more streamlined) I can tell you there is one other item in it, but that one is getting a coveted promotion to a full post because I think I can do it further justice. That may be one of my last items of the year before I figure out my annual Christmas message and compile the year in review – can you believe it’s that time?

With that, I bring this odd year of odds and ends to an end.

Redistricting in Delaware: a better idea

Last in a three-part series. Here’s parts one and two to catch you up.

Over the last few years, I’ve become aware of a group called the Institute on the Constitution. Its purpose is to “restore the constitutional republic through grassroots education,” but one wrinkle they’re adding in the near future is a course on Delaware’s Constitution that will be held around the state.

However, all I had to do was read the document to see what the intention of its writers has been regarding legislative districts, as both the initial layout and proposed expansions were spelled out – if rather archaically – in Articles 2 and 2A.

Interestingly enough, the original intent was for 35 House members representing various districts, usually Hundreds. (In the city of Wilmington, it was broken down further to Wards.) Despite the population disparity between New Castle County – then, according to the latest Census at the time in 1890, it had 57.7% of the state’s population – and the rest of the state, New Castle was assigned 15 Representatives, while the other two counties were given 10 apiece.

In Article 2A, it was further decreed that once a district reached a population of 15,000 plus a “major fraction” (which I would interpret as over half, or 7,501) it was entitled to another representative. Obviously over time, some areas have well exceeded their apportionment while others are way short. It’s probably enough to render a strict reading of this provision meaningless, particularly since the Delaware Constitution also states that, “After each official federal decennial census the new Representative Districts created pursuant to this Section (2A) shall be abolished and the Representative Districts set forth in Section 2 of this Article shall again be re-divided as set forth herein.” In theory, of course, these lines can be bent and shaped any way the majority party pleases, although to me that provides legitimate Constitutional questions as to why a district can be in two counties and how Kent and Sussex counties no longer have ten representatives apiece. (I’m betting it’s an effect of something I’m discussing later on.)

Oddly enough, the state Constitution also provided for seven Senators from each county and laid out Senate districts based on Representative districts. I’m going to come back to this in due course, but first let’s discuss an idea for the House.

In Article XVI of the Delaware Constitution, there is a provision to allow voters a say on whether there should be a constitutional convention. It would take a 2/3 vote of each chamber to put it on the ballot.

Now one would think that the majority party might jump at the chance to change the state Constitution, but it doesn’t appear they pay much attention to it anyway. Regardless, assuming such a motion were to pass, the next step would be to choose Delegates for the convention, and that’s where it would get interesting. Because there’s no precedent, the General Assembly would legally have to hew to the initial 35 representative lines for the convention’s membership (15 from New Castle, 10 apiece from Sussex and Kent) then add six other participants – two from New Castle County, two from Kent County, and two from Sussex County. All of these participants would have to be selected by the voters of the respective districts or by the counties at-large, which would give us the opportunity to place 25 or so right-thinking people on the convention committee.

The idea here would be to reset the House: not to the initial 15/10/10 arrangement, because that would be unfair to New Castle County, but to expand the House to about 75 members, which would place districts under the initial 15,000 population threshold with room to grow. In such an arrangement, New Castle would currently have 43 members, 14 for Kent, and 18 for Sussex, with each district averaging about 13,200 people. It could also be incorporated that the House would expand at each Census as necessary to keep the representative district population at 15,000, like the state Constitution initially intended.

The Senate is where things get intriguing. While we still have 21 state Senators, this provision was nullified by the incorrect judicial overreach in two separate cases dating from the 1960s, Baker v. Carr and, later, Reynolds v. Sims, which mandated all state legislative districts be of equal population, whether in the lower or upper chamber. While the subject states were incorrectly maintaining population disparities in their lower legislative chambers, the model of the U.S. Senate should have remained valid for states to follow. In his dissent on Reynolds v. Sims, Justice John Marshall Harlan correctly asserted that, “I think it demonstrable that the Fourteenth Amendment does not impose this political tenet on the States or authorize this Court to do so.” We take the Fourteenth Amendment way too far sometimes and pull our punches in others, but that’s a subject for another day. But it is sufficient to say that the SCOTUS ran roughshod over our Delaware state constitution in both House and Senate composition.

I can work with this on the House side, since the intent is for equal representation for the people. However, one aspect the Court did not appear to address was this: what if it was no longer an individual’s right to directly vote on their Senate representative?

Prior to the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, each state legislature chose its Senators. This insured states would have a voice in the federal government commensurate with that of the people, who directly elected House of Representative members that were apportioned by state population. (Thus, for most of its history Delaware has been represented at-large by just one House member.) There was nothing wrong with that model, which remains somewhat in effect since the number of Senators from each state hasn’t changed, just the method of selection. While it would be even better if the Seventeenth Amendment were somehow repealed (sigh), it’s still an important check on large states, whether they be California, Florida, or Texas, running rampant on federal government as a coalition of smaller states can keep legislature detrimental to them at bay.

To me, it would be worth the court fight certainly required to install this system in the Delaware Senate, where the legislative bodies of each county would select seven Senators apiece on staggered terms to serve in the Senate. It would make local elections vastly more important and allow for the counties to have their voice heard, because the individual concerns of Kent and Sussex are drowned out by the massive delegation New Castle brings to the table. News flash: we ain’t NCC down here.

I can guaran-damn-tee that people are going to read this final part and think I have lost my ever-lovin’ mind. But look at all the Left has foisted on us in the last 20-30 years and think about how crazy some of that would have sounded in 1970 – yet here we are, dealing with it. At some point, the pendulum has to swing, and with any luck and assistance from the Lord above I will be around to see our Constitution come back stronger than ever. It has to begin someplace.

Redistricting in Delaware: where we are going

This is the second of three parts.

As noted in my first part, Delaware Democrats had a problem in redistricting – according to population, they were going to have to move a House district (and potentially a Senate district) out of the Democrat stronghold of New Castle County to the more reddish climes of Sussex County because, of the trio of Delaware counties, Sussex grew fastest by far.

That was what they were supposed to do. Instead, they decided to cram just as many people as they legally could into Sussex’s five Senate districts, which all are larger than average to the point that Sussex has five of the state’s seven largest Senate districts by population. Their only concession was to move Senate District 18, which formerly was roughly split in half by the Sussex-Kent county line, southward to place most of its territory into Sussex County, with a small carveout in Kent County for the city of Milford. Even with this shift, it’s probable that, by the end of the decade, most of the Senate districts in Sussex will exceed the state average by 10 percent while Democrat stronghold districts in and around Wilmington will be hollowed out more. While districts in New Castle generally moved southward, they kept the same number they had before despite the smaller share of population.

As for the House: fortunately, they had a House member from New Castle County who wasn’t planning on running for re-election in 2022 (the politically incorrect Rep. Gerald Brady) so his was the district they selected to transfer to Sussex. By contrast, the Republican map only moved that district southward into a different area of New Castle County and removed District 18, where Rep. David Bentz had similarly announced (under much more acceptable circumstances) that he wouldn’t seek another term, to the fast-growing Long Neck area of Sussex. Regardless, the net result was that of terminating a district that Democrats won with an average of 70% of the vote and moving it to a district where Republicans have an advantage in voter registration.

I’m going to shift the goalposts a little bit now. Let’s use 2% as the new standard for district over- or underpopulation with the revised districts and see how the state is now arranged. I’m also going to concede House District 4 to the Republicans for the purpose of this exercise – hey, they’re now only down 25-16 in the House now!

If all Senators maintained their districts, Democrats in underpopulated Senate districts would be 8 of 14 (57%), while just 3 of 14 (21%) would be from overpopulated areas. On the other hand, 5 of 7 Republican Senators come from districts with more than 2% above-average population, with none from the converse underpopulated districts. All seven current GOP members have larger-than-average districts, although Senate District 15 is so by just six people.

Turning to the House, 10 of the remaining 25 Democrats (40%) represent underpopulated districts, again mostly in the Wilmington area. However, 9 of 25 (36%) come from the inverse overpopulated areas. As you’ll see in the next part, the shifting in New Castle County played a role in this; suffice to say the majority could have done a little better in fine-tuning things. Unlike the situation in Sussex County, several of these overstuffed districts lie in the Middletown and Newark areas, as well as one in Dover.

As for the Republicans it’s the opposite. 6 of 16 (38%) come from districts 2% or more over average. Two of them are in Sussex County districts left alone by the House District 4 shift, and two come from the southern end of New Castle County (or Kent County, as House District 11 continues to straddle the two counties.) Meanwhile, 5 of 16 (31%, including our presumed District 4 rep) hail from underpopulated districts. Three of them, however, were affected by the District 4 move.

The reduction of House District 4 is an interesting case. This is its lay of the land in the last go-round:

The former House District 4 is in red. Redistricting necessitated its relocation to Sussex County. (All images: screenshot from Davesredistricting.org.)

And this is the new map of the same area. Most of its former physical territory appears to have been absorbed into House District 12, but House Districts 1 and 3 on its former eastern flank added enough population to address two of the most serious population shortages.

Most of House District 4 appears to be absorbed into House District 12.

Here is where House District 4 ended up. As you can see by the top map (the existing condition), once you plop in House District 4 the Long Neck area of Sussex County won’t be sharing a district with Georgetown anymore. House District 37 trends to the west, taking a little bite out of House Districts 35 and 36; meanwhile, districts along the Maryland border really aren’t affected.

The state of play in Sussex County before last month.
Long Neck will have its own representative now. We lost the northeastern fringe of our district to District 37.

 Overall, then, I would have to say that the Democrats didn’t take a whole lot of advantage in the House, but their hand was somewhat forced by the obvious population shifts. In ten years, though, it’s likely the GOP strongholds will again be the ones that run well above average.

In the final part, I have some ideas on how to make our legislature more responsive to all interested parties.

Redistricting in Delaware: the current state of play

This is the first of a three-part series on our state’s recent legislative redistricting.

In 2010, the state of Delaware was politically much like it is today, with Democrats in control of both the executive and legislative branches. Jack Markell was early in his first term as governor, while the Delaware General Assembly had Democrat control in both chambers: 14-7 in the 21-seat Senate, and 26-15 in the 41-seat House – this despite an electorate that, at the time, was 47% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 22% unaffiliated, with the remainder scattered among minor parties. Given that control, the Democrats pushed through maps that attempted to continue favoring them.

Although the maps created districts that were reasonably compact and contiguous, and divided the state up pretty much properly between counties in terms of number of seats per county, they also maintained the Democrats’ stronghold on the state. As of this writing, the House and Senate numbers are unchanged from those in 2010, and while the fortunes of the Democrats have ebbed and flowed – a special election in 2017 put the Democrats in jeopardy of losing their Senate majority, although they prevailed thanks to lots of campaign money – the electorate has barely moved in terms of registration: it’s now 48% Democrat, 28% Republican, and 22% unaffiliated, with the rest still enrolled in minor parties. If you assume the unaffiliated and minor party voters line up with the proportion established by the duopoly, Democrats outperform their 63% portion in the Senate by a half-seat and fall right in line with the proportions in the House. However, based on recent state voting results, the non-affiliated electorate tends to skew somewhat more Republican, so in essence the Democrats have “stolen” a couple seats.

And there are reasons why. But let’s begin with the basics: for this discussion, it’s worthy to note that districts in Delaware are numbered in a generally north-to-south fashion, although there is shuffling to some degree in New Castle County, the northernmost county where most of Delaware’s population lives. Over the years, a population shift southward toward the beaches of Sussex County has necessitated the breaking of this pattern: Senate District 6 and House Districts 14, 19, and 20 have all been transplanted from New Castle to Sussex. Otherwise, Sussex has the Senate districts from 18-21 and the House districts from 35-41. (In the new adopted map, Sussex will have another “out-of-place” district as House District 4 moves from New Castle to Sussex. District 4 is currently represented by Democrat Gerald Brady, who has already announced he would not seek re-election thanks in part to cancel culture, so his district was available to move.)

The shifting of districts entirely, writes Captain Obvious, means the population trends in the state have rendered the old districts obsolete. In Delaware there is an allowed 10% deviation in population within districts, which can be 5% higher or lower than average. Knowing that, it’s no wonder that those in charge have an opportunity to heist a few seats by making their safe districts smaller than the average and the opposition’s districts larger. In this case, Delaware’s political makeup and population shifts (which planners were obviously aware of in 2010) have conspired to really give short shrift to the minority Republicans.

To figure out the current state of play, I found some of the measures relied on a website called Dave’s Redistricting. (I’ve used it before to draw a fairer Congressional map in Maryland, where there is such a thing as a Congressional map. It was much better than the brutal gerrymandering that eventually passed.) As of the 2020 census, there are 6 current Senate districts and 9 in the House which exceed the 5% threshold for overpopulation; conversely the underpopulated districts number 9 in the Senate and 12 in the House. In a growing state like Delaware you would expect the opposite, but it’s less surprising when you find out the overpopulated districts are the Republican ones: 4 of 6 in the Senate and 5 of 9 in the House. Put another way, 57% of Republican senators and 33% of Republican House members represent overcrowded districts; the same is true for just 14% of Senate Democrats and 15% in the House.

In contrast – and not unexpectedly – all nine Senate districts voters (and others) are fleeing are controlled by the Democrats. Moreover, 10 of the 12 significantly underpopulated House districts are Democrat-controlled – so they are catering to a shrinking population. Again, no Republican Senator represents an underpopulated district but a whopping 64% of Democrat Senators represent a Senate district more than 5% below average population. In the House, only 13% of Republicans hail from a district severely short on population, but 38% of House Democrats do.

Knowing all that, there was no question that districts had to move, and the Sussex County beaches were going to gain representatives. The question would be how begrudging the Democrats would be in giving Sussex – the most Republican of the three counties – its due.

In part two, I’ll look at where the state is going.