Prescient picks

You likely remember I pulled out my crystal ball and took a somewhat educated guess at how the Delaware primary elections would turn out. If we were doing the old (ladies and) gentlemen’s bet at the WCRCC, I might have vacuumed my fellows’ wallets once again – I even got the order of the GOP governor’s race correct. But there’s more analysis to come.

I’ll begin with the bonus:

My first bonus prediction: at least two sitting Democrat members of the Delaware General Assembly lose in the primary. I can’t tell you just who but I suspect at least one will be a veteran member who loses to a more “progressive” Democrat.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Good thing I said “at least” because it turned out that four lost: Senator David McBride of District 13 and Representatives Ray Siegfried of District 7, John Viola of District 26, and Earl Jacques of District 27 all fell by the primary wayside – and only Viola’s was close as he lost by 43 votes. McBride went down by about 5 points, while the other two cratered to double-digit defeats.

I don’t expect (U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Governor John Carney, or Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro) to lose in the primary to Jessica Scarane, David Lamar Williams, Jr., or Kayode Abegunde, respectively… But watch the margins: anything less than a 50-point win by the incumbents would indicate their support is soft.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Arguably, Coons is within the margin of error of being “soft” since he only won by a 73-27 margin. He could see some percentage of Democrats stay home on Election Day as well as an erosion of Big Labor support as his GOP opponent wages her populist campaign – more on that in a bit. It’s also interesting that his percentage among walk-ups was 13 points lower than from mail-ins.

Even more soft support goes toward Trinidad Navarro, who only won his primary 64-36. Then again, he wasn’t first in alphabetical order and Insurance Commissioner is a race few pay strict attention to. Interesting to me is the fact Kayode Abegunde was somewhat competitive downstate, which suggests it’s a winnable race for a Republican who draws moderate Democrat votes. And in this case, there was only a six-point spread between in-person and mail-in.

On the other hand, Democrats seem to be foursquare for John Carney since he won by a lopsided 85-15 margin. It’s going to be the battle of the nanny state full of Karens taking on the freedom-loving people of the South in Slower Lower Delaware. (Like Coons, though, take note that the margin was quite a bit closer from in-person votes than mail-in – 11 points, to be exact.)

However, with the exception of the U.S. House, it’s possible (and perhaps the most likely outcome) that we could have an all-female GOP contingent come November.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Turned out it was the outcome. We have a Democrat party with three white guys, a white woman, and a black woman taking on four queens (in a playing card sense.) Alas, Lee Murphy isn’t Jack Murphy because that would be a natural. Thanks to the primary we have more women remaining for November than men, so I want to hear no more whining about how women are underrepresented.

I’ll begin with the GOP House race… Two years ago Murphy lost in stunning fashion to the tree-killing campaign of one R. Scott Walker, but I think this time Lee gets the brass ring. It feels like a 60-40 type race to me, so I’ll figure Murphy 61, Morris 39. I would not be surprised, however, to see this be a 10-15% undervote compared to the governor’s race.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

I was well off on this one in that Murphy wasn’t as uninspiring as I believed. Not only did he outperform my guess by a full 13 points (winning in a crushing 74-26 rout) but his race’s undervote was only about 6% compared to the governor’s race.

Another two-person race is the U.S. Senate race, which pits Lauren Witzke against James DeMartino… This is going to be a test to see just how effective a party endorsement can be. I suspect it’s going to be enough for DeMartino to make it a close race but I think Lauren will win in the end by a 52-48 margin. Witzke may have to win this race without much more than token support from her party – there may be a “Republicans for Coons” group out there if she wins because she ties so closely with Donald Trump and surely Delaware has some percentage of #NeverTrump rear guard people out there.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

At one point in the count I thought DeMartino was going to pull the upset. It’s very interesting the disparity between mail-in votes and ballots cast in person in this race. If you looked at the absentee results, DeMartino was comfortably ahead as he got 59% of those cards, so early on it was a race he was leading. Unfortunately for him, the majority of Republicans voted in person and Lauren received nearly 62% of the in-person vote. (I don’t know how much in-person campaigning he did on Election Day but I guess Lauren was all over and it paid off.)

It turned out I was about five points off as Witzke won 57-43. As for the remaining prediction, I’m already seeing the media angle as the Christine O’Donnell theme was prevalent in the coverage as was commentary about Qanon, which obviously is going to become an issue in this race. The slant is in: Witzke is the “controversial” candidate with views out of the mainstream while Coons is the moderate, bipartisan voice of reason – never mind his campaign has been crying “orange man bad” on a daily basis.

And last but not least, the big one:

But I think the turnout for this election will be much better than the usual 15-20 percent… This race has a ton of interest so I believe we may get 50,000 total votes and I don’t see Walker receiving more than about 6-8,000 of them.

If Walker indeed comes to that estimate, he will easily pass two of his competitors – David Graham, who I see at about 5% of the vote, and David Bosco, who seems to be two to three points higher than that. Those kind of numbers may be enough to vault Walker to third place past Bryant Richardson.

All this leaves about 60% of the vote to be split somehow between Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. Colin got 21,150 votes in his 2016 primary and if he does it again he wins going away…

I know Bonini is hitting the direct mail hard but there’s probably a good percentage of voters who mailed in ballots. Moreover, there’s perhaps the thought that a rematch of a 2016 race where the GOP got smacked by 20 points up and down the line isn’t appealing to these victory-starved voters. So this is how I see the gubernatorial primary coming out: Murray 30, Bonini 28, Richardson 15, Walker 14, Bosco 8, Graham 5.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Overall turnout was 32.26%, which is about unheard of for a Delaware primary. Perhaps having the mail-in option gooses turnout as well, so I don’t think the practice is going away anytime soon.

Scott Walker, in fact, received 3,998 votes. Why I don’t know. And for the longest time he was running neck-and-neck with Bryant Richardson for third place, as I predicted. In fact, I had the order of finish just right – and aside from the top two being so far apart, rather proportional to my guess.

But had the balloting been exclusively mail-in, Colin Bonini would have had his rematch. Out of that group of voters, he won by 6 points but was swamped enough by those who actually showed up to vote that he lost by 6 points. And given the fact that Julianne Murray was the one who got most of the benefit from the open polls – David Bosco also increased his share slightly from mail-in to in-person – it appears that she got most of the late-deciders. I believe the media coverage (and campaign funding) pushed it into a two-way race and voters who were going to go for Richardson or Walker saw the futility of their vote and decided on the outsider. I think that’s why I overestimated their share, although proportionately I wasn’t in all that bad of shape – everyone outside the top two ended up with about half of what I assumed they’d get, except Bosco. Had Dave had more money, he may have pulled enough votes from his fellow outsider Murray to throw the election Bonini’s way – but we will never know.

The only thing I really messed up was in saying Bonini’s 2016 vote total would hold. Murray beat it by about 1,700 votes so I guess I’ll have to buff out that chip in the crystal before November comes.

Fearless forecasts

As my Delaware friends are likely well aware, tomorrow is primary day in the state: Republicans and Democrats will (or perhaps already have, given the misplaced emphasis on mail-in balloting) narrow down their respective fields for Governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House. As an added bonus, Democrats around the state will get to eliminate one candidate for insurance commissioner and several contestants vying in primary battles for local legislative races. (My first bonus prediction: at least two sitting Democrat members of the Delaware General Assembly lose in the primary. I can’t tell you just who but I suspect at least one will be a veteran member who loses to a more “progressive” Democrat.)

Since I’ve already began with the majority party in the state, I may as well continue working through their races. All five statewide Democrat candidates are seeking another term; however, only Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester escaped a primary challenger. The three men running again (U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Governor John Carney, and Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro) weren’t so fortunate.

I don’t expect any of them to lose in the primary to Jessica Scarane, David Lamar Williams, Jr., or Kayode Abegunde, respectively. (Interesting that Democrats would keep three white men and reject a woman and two people of color, eh?) But watch the margins: anything less than a 50-point win by the incumbents would indicate their support is soft. The question at that point would be whether it’s because the incumbents are insufficiently left-leaning for the Democrat electorate or whether rank-and-file Democrats don’t like the incumbent and would be open to the right challenger.

(Worth noting: although the Green Party appears to have ballot access in Delaware, there are no candidates who have filed under that banner. So there is nothing to the left of the Democrats on the November ballot.)

And then we have the Republicans. Out of those same five statewide offices, it’s once again ladies who have the clear path: Donyale Hall for lieutenant governor and Dr. Julia Pillsbury for insurance commissioner. However, with the exception of the U.S. House, it’s possible (and perhaps the most likely outcome) that we could have an all-female GOP contingent come November.

I’ll begin with the GOP House race, which is going to be pretty much a name recognition race. Thanks to some health issues and a lack of funding, Matthew Morris is probably not well-known enough to defeat Lee Murphy. Two years ago Murphy lost in stunning fashion to the tree-killing campaign of one R. Scott Walker, but I think this time Lee gets the brass ring. It feels like a 60-40 type race to me, so I’ll figure Murphy 61, Morris 39. I would not be surprised, however, to see this be a 10-15% undervote compared to the governor’s race.

Another two-person race is the U.S. Senate race, which pits Lauren Witzke against James DeMartino. If campaigns were based on how hard candidates worked, it would be no contest – and it still may not be. But I get a lot of undertones out of this race, for two reasons.

One is the Christine O’Donnell factor, which I believe was the reason Lauren did not get the GOP endorsement despite outraising DeMartino and arguably building a lot more name recognition in the state. I believe the Republican party regulars were spooked by a candidate who espoused populist rhetoric like Donald Trump and came from a very questionable background. (In that respect she was similar to Matthew Morris, but his background is not nearly the factor in his race.)

The second is a platform which would, in some aspects, be perceived as well to the right of average Delaware voters yet also depended on a constituency not accustomed to voting GOP: blue-collar union workers. In fact, that comes in more as a general election strategy because many of those workers remain as registered Democrats and can’t help Lauren get through the primary.

This is going to be a test to see just how effective a party endorsement can be. I suspect it’s going to be enough for DeMartino to make it a close race but I think Lauren will win in the end by a 52-48 margin. Witzke may have to win this race without much more than token support from her party – there may be a “Republicans for Coons” group out there if she wins because she ties so closely with Donald Trump and surely Delaware has some percentage of #NeverTrump rear guard people out there.

And then we have the governor’s race on the Republican side.

My friend Chris Slavens wrote a social media post with his thoughts on the GOP race and his analysis is very sound. In fact, R. Scott Walker is a wild card in this race since he did pick up over 19,000 primary votes for Congress last time around.

But I think the turnout for this election will be much better than the usual 15-20 percent and people who voted for Walker last time out in a two-person midterm race against an uninspiring candidate may have a different choice in mind this time around. This race has a ton of interest so I believe we may get 50,000 total votes and I don’t see Walker receiving more than about 6-8,000 of them.

If Walker indeed comes to that estimate, he will easily pass two of his competitors – David Graham, who I see at about 5% of the vote, and David Bosco, who seems to be two to three points higher than that. Those kind of numbers may be enough to vault Walker to third place past Bryant Richardson.

All this leaves about 60% of the vote to be split somehow between Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. Colin got 21,150 votes in his 2016 primary and if he does it again he wins going away. But I don’t see that because, while Lacey Lafferty in 2016 was a sort of precursor to the type of candidate Lauren Witzke is this year (in a completely different race), Julianne Murray is not running a populist Trumpian campaign. Traditional Republicans, especially in Sussex County, may also peel off their former Bonini support to his fellow Senator Richardson – I think Bryant’s presence in the race takes away far more from Bonini than anyone else so you can take that 15% out of Colin’s column. If so, suddenly Bonini’s at 27% and he’s a loser.

I know Bonini is hitting the direct mail hard but there’s probably a good percentage of voters who mailed in ballots. Moreover, there’s perhaps the thought that a rematch of a 2016 race where the GOP got smacked by 20 points up and down the line isn’t appealing to these victory-starved voters. So this is how I see the gubernatorial primary coming out: Murray 30, Bonini 28, Richardson 15, Walker 14, Bosco 8, Graham 5.

We’ll probably know late Tuesday night whether my crystal ball is prescient or cloudy. But I’ll be glad to clear my sidebar and start working in other candidates to my dossiers.

And then there were five: a Delaware political update

You know, for a year that’s supposed to be awful for Republicans thanks to the media-driven “unpopularity” and poor polling of President Trump, there seems to be a lot of interest in challenging incumbent Governor John Carney on the GOP side. With 2016 candidate and longtime State Senator Colin Bonini announcing another bid yesterday on WGMD radio, we now have five vying for the nomination on September 15.

In listening to Bonini’s chat with host Mike Bradley, he spent the first third of it encouraging the field to be cleared. Yet we have an intriguing grouping of folks running for the nomination – two are currently elected officials (Bonini and fellow Senator Bryant Richardson), two are businessmen (David Bosco and Neil Shea) and one is an attorney (Julianne Murray.)

But as I discussed the last time I visited the topic a month ago, Bonini was one of the few Republicans who have significant name recognition because of his previous statewide run, and that gives him some advantage. He also has a commendable legislative record, ranking as the top Senator in the five-year Delaware history of the monoblogue Accountability Project. (Richardson is third among Senators; both have been Legislative All-Stars and Bonini was my Legislator of the Year for the 2015-16 term.) But the argument can be made that he’s too “establishment” and he’s already lost a matchup against Carney. (Bonini even ran about three points behind Donald Trump in Delaware, collecting 18,275 fewer votes. That was nearly 10 percent of Trump’s total. Meanwhile, John Carney had the highest number of votes for any candidate, including Hillary Clinton.)

Since this update comes about a month out from my initial foray into the topic – but a few weeks before the filing deadline – I thought it would be an interesting idea to see just how well these selected primary candidates are getting the word out. The one commonality they all have is a Facebook page, so in strict order of “likes” we have the following ranking:

  • Neil Shea – 1,932 likes, page created May 12 (46 days)
  • Bryant Richardson – 976 likes on his Senate page, created in 2012
  • Julianne Murray – 668 likes, page created May 24 (34 days)
  • David Bosco – 466 likes, page created May 26 (32 days)
  • Colin Bonini – 108 likes, page created June 2 (25 days)

Bear in mind Bonini only announced his intentions yesterday. In comparison to Richardson, his Senate Facebook page has 2,303 likes.

And while it seems rather daunting to take on a sitting governor, I was surprised to find Carney’s campaign Facebook page only has 7,191 likes.

Meanwhile, there has only been a little movement in the remaining downballot statewide races. Besides Bonini, the only announced candidate that I’m aware of who has not actually filed for office is U.S. Senate candidate James DeMartino. Independent candidate Catherine Purcell has checked into the race for the House, while previously announced candidates John Carney, Donyale Hall, Julianne Murray, Julia Pillsbury, Bryant Richardson, and Jessica Scarane formally filed.

Just for fun, I’m also checking the social media status of the other primary races:

  • In this Senate primaries, DeMartino has garnered 414 likes since March 25, a total of 94 days. On the other hand, Lauren Witzke is comfortably ahead on that front with 4,499 likes but it’s taken her 172 days to get there. They both trail Chris Coons, who has 22,980 likes on a page created in 2008; however, his progressive opponent Jessica Scarane has only 1,846 likes on a page created last October.
  • Turning to the House race, GOP hopeful Lee Murphy has 1,875 likes on a page he created in June of 2018, while Matthew Morris trails with 1,295 likes but has only had the page active 92 days. Incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester has 6,945 likes on a campaign page created in 2015.

Since no one else has a primary just yet, I’ll leave the social media at that, except for one thing: I joined Parler the other day (@monoblogue) only to find Lauren Witzke is already there, and has been for several weeks. As word spreads about the Twitter alternative, it will be interesting to see who makes the jump. (I haven’t seen a Parler icon on any campaign page yet, including Witzke’s.)

Unless Bonini prevails on some of the hopefuls to drop out or not, this year’s GOP gubernatorial primary could be the most crowded in the state’s history (although primary election results on the state’s website only date back about 30 years.) Bear in mind also that there will be 5 to 7 parties on the ballot this fall depending on registered voter status, and some of those candidates automatically advance to the general election ballot through nomination by convention.

Some of this puzzle will be cleared up by July 17, three days after the filing deadline and the final point hopefuls can drop out (or shift races) without losing their filing fee.

A Delaware political update: part 2, the U.S. House race

After looking at one statewide federal race in my last post, I’m going to tackle the other one today. In a game of musical chairs that I suppose is part of the “Delaware Way”, our current governor left his seat in the House four years ago to run for the office, leaving an opening and several Democrats salivating to fill that House seat. Lisa Blunt Rochester (for sake of typing, I’ll call her LBR) was the survivor among the Democrat field and has prevailed in the general election twice, first defeating Republican Hans Riegle by 14.5 points in 2016 and perennial candidate Scott Walker by 28 points in 2018. She’s gotten a lot of mileage out of being the first “woman and person of color” representing Delaware in Congress.

However, while her Senate counterpart Chris Coons is fighting a primary opponent from the left, LBR has an announced (but not filed) opponent who would most likely nestle himself to her right, and perhaps even right of center. I have to say, though, that I have not heard much about the run of Andrew Webb and his campaign Facebook page (which is apparently the only campaign organ) has not been updated regularly.

Even more recently, a lady named Anne Kerner has filed the FEC paperwork for the House seat despite having a campaign listed as being for the governor’s chair. With that confusion combined with lack of presence – and given the steep filing fees in Delaware – it’s likely LBR will be unopposed on the Democrat side.

Also unopposed for a party bid according to the state BOE is Libertarian David Rogers, but he’s running a pretty stealth campaign so far since I can’t dig up a website, social media, or anything like that. Don’t you just hate that?

So again we end up on the Republican side, where we have a previously unsuccessful aspirant against a first-time candidate who has had issues with substance abuse. It’s deja vu all over again.

Playing the role of unsuccessful aspirant is Lee Murphy, who has tried this before – this is his (at least) fourth bite of the apple, having been an unsuccessful state legislative contender in 2014 and 2016 (he did not make the general election ballot in either case) and losing in the 2018 GOP primary to Scott Walker. (Per Ballotpedia, Murphy has also ran without success for New Castle County council, but for the sake of this comparison we will go with this being his fourth try.)

Yes, he lost to Scott freaking Walker, the guy who hasn’t yet found a tree he wouldn’t like to nail an illegal campaign sign to. The guy who was running as a Democrat again, for president. I’m sure Lee is a nice guy, and he was probably as surprised as anyone the day after the 2018 primary, but he lost to Scott Walker so what does that tell you about his chances against an opponent with money and actual personality? (Or, what does that tell you about Delaware primary voters? Maybe there was something to that 2010 criticism the establishment had.) Anyway, it looks like Lee’s running a solid if not spectacular primary campaign, so maybe he’s not taking this for granted as he may have before.

So if Murphy doesn’t have hindsight, why is his opponent promoting his? Matthew Morris promises “Restoring Power to the People” but he also has a unique backstory, including a stint in prison. But he’s promising accountability should he be elected to Congress.

Being a Congressman shouldn’t be about reporting to Washington and leaving my constituents behind, never to be seen again, or at least not until the next election time.  No, I want to be involved with ALL of my constituents ALL THE TIME .  That means, when voting on bills, I want to provide the State of Delaware with real time information and interaction about what is being passed, why it has been brought before the house, and base my voting directly reflecting my constituent’s wants and needs.

https://www.matthewmorrisfordelaware.com/platform

I must say that, being a resident of a seemingly forgotten corner of the state, it would be nice to have a representative who has a little involvement here. But Matt has a curious set of priorities: the opioid epidemic, education, and prison reform are his top issues. The question is whether Republican voters would agree with him?

If you’re not excited about these alternatives, the biggest problem is that there’s basically no time left for anyone with no name recognition to get into the race. Moreover, since Delaware is a one-district state, the House isn’t going to draw the same caliber of candidate a Senate race would get – why constantly be campaigning when you can represent the same district for six years and wield comparatively more power? We know LBR is probably waiting in the wings for Tom Carper to retire to move up, although there are probably a few other Democrats who would like the seat as well.

I’m hoping someone excites me with the prospect of improving our representation, but so far that’s not happened.

A Delaware political update: part 1, the U.S. Senate race

You have probably noticed that I have, over the last several months, kept an Election 2020 widget on my sidebar. Initially it solely focused on the various primary races for President but as the field narrowed and local filing dates passed (for a primary I assumed would be in April) I added the First District Congressional race in Maryland.

Here in Delaware, however, we have the old-school Maryland schedule of a mid-September primary and the filing deadline doesn’t arrive until July. So I don’t want to invest the time in doing the widget quite yet but there has been movement in some of the races that readers should be aware of.

Because all federal races in Delaware are statewide, I have just two to focus on this year. And because I wanted to focus on these races more in depth, I’ve decided to create a series out of the 2020 races here in the First State, with one part apiece focused on the U.S. Senate seat where Chris Coons desires another term, the House race where Lisa Blunt Rochester faces the voters for the second time as an incumbent, the re-election campaign of Governor John Carney, and a part devoted to the lesser statewide races such as lieutenant governor and state insurance commissioner. I may also do a part for the state legislative races affecting Sussex County, which has nine House districts and five Senate districts, although not all of the latter are on the ballot this year.

In the U.S. Senate race, the incumbent Democrat Chris Coons just filed for re-election this week and he’s looking for money to win a second full term – he was first elected in 2010 to finish Joe Biden’s term. Just like his counterpart Tom Carper did two years ago, Coons has a challenger from his left in Jessica Scarane. If you want proof that she’s to his left, on her campaign page is the statement: “Instead of cutting deals with Republicans that exacerbate racism and inequality, Jess will fight for policies that improve the lives of hardworking Delawareans so we can build a state and country that works for all of us.” She has the Indivisible-style jargon down.

While Coons is a prohibitive favorite in the Democrat primary, based on the 2018 result where the incumbent Carper won over a progressive upstart by 30 points, the U.S. Senate race is on the Republican side is wide open between two candidates – although neither has formally filed, both have campaign sites and both are from Sussex County. (Update 5/18: Lauren Witzke filed today.) We’ll go ladies first and introduce you to first-time candidate Lauren Witzke, whose key issues are immigration, restoration of family values, and dealing with the opioid crisis. On the other hand, James DeMartino – who ran for a seat in the Delaware House in both 2016 and 2018 but lost twice to a longtime Democrat incumbent – is pushing healthcare and jobs and the economy as his headline issues.

Filling out the Senate general election card so far are balloted candidates Mark Turley from the Independent Party of Delaware and Libertarian party candidate (once again) Nadine Frost.

Since the best action is on the Republican side, it’s worth pointing out that Witzke is a first-time candidate while DeMartino has run in a local House district race unsuccessfully the last two times, losing by 25-plus point margins in both 2016 and 2018. Perhaps it was a matter of facing the state’s Speaker of the House, but when I looked into it I found DeMartino underperformed every other Republican on his local ballot in both elections. To me, that’s not a great sign in a race that’s already a really steep uphill climb.

This is just one man’s observation, but the one who’s hustling in this Senate race is Witzke. Until just recently, DeMartino hadn’t updated his site from his previous races. Perhaps he would be considered the “establishment” choice, and he has a good resume of business and military experience; on the other hand Witzke is coming from a non-traditional background that includes her admission of past opioid abuse.

But Witzke is running an insurgent campaign that reminds me a little bit of Christine O’Donnell’s in 2010 – however, instead of a TEA Party platform Witzke is taking advantage of Donald Trump’s populist appeal with some unorthodox GOP approaches. (One thing I found out is that she is not in favor of right-to-work laws and is instead soliciting support from Big Labor. I don’t see it happening but stranger things have occurred.) She’s already taken an important step of nationalizing the race, bringing attention to a seat the GOP may need to counter prospective losses elsewhere. It’s an approach necessary to raise the funding to be competitive.

I hear so many establishment Republicans say that a campaign like Witzke’s can’t succeed in Delaware. This may be true; however, I don’t see the party establishment out educating the public about why conservative principles succeed and how they can improve the lives of average Delaware residents. If they give no effort, they get no results.

People may see Witzke as a flawed candidate, but she’s the one putting in the most effort right now and it’s pretty much too late for anyone else with negligible name recognition to jump in and have a realistic shot. DeMartino is a “Delaware Way” sort of Republican hopeful, sort of like the Washington Generals are a perpetual foil for the Harlem Globetrotters. Witzke may not be the perfect candidate but at the moment I believe she has the least long shot of victory among the GOP hopefuls.

Competing views on manufacturing

As a follow up and way to revise and extend remarks on Friday’s post about the Alliance for American Manufacturing, I decided to dig a little bit more into who they are and what they are proposing. The idea of “Made in America” is a sound one, for a number of reasons, but as I pointed out the AAM seems to have many of its eggs in the protectionist basket. To some extent, they have a case: even their attempt to furnish their Washington, D.C. office with exclusively American-made goods fell a little short:

Our tour began in one of the small offices, where (AAM executive director Scott) Paul showed off a desk from Washington state. But things took a turn downhill from there, when we got to the products on the desk.

“You can’t find phones, video display terminals,” says Paul. “I mean, none of that is American-made.” Paul couldn’t find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple’s announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States.

But then I found an entire AAM-backed legislative agenda, for which they linked to this subpage on the website of Delaware’s junior Senator Chris Coons. In it, we find a number of top-down legislative proposals in the areas of skills training, exports, access to capital, and “conditions necessary for growth.” At the time of its last update, about half of these proposals hadn’t been introduced as bills, with the last introduced bill being S.1400 in July of this year – either the website is not often updated or these proposals have languished on the back burner of a do-nothing, obstructionist Senate. This to me is quite telling as most of the sponsors are Democrats, who have the majority in the body.

It should be pointed out, too, that the Alliance for American Manufacturing is the brainchild of the United Steelworkers union and a “select group of America’s leading manufacturers.” The list of this select group isn’t widely disseminated, but the AAM describes that:

Leo Gerard, the International President of the United Steelworkers, and CEOs of Steelworker-represented manufacturers understood that. These leaders launched AAM in 2007 to build on the success of the “Stand Up For Steel” coalition.

The roots of that coalition date back to the 1990s, so this fight is an old one under a relatively new name since the AAM was founded in 2007. Essentially it’s a union partnership with the closed shops under its wing; a business-labor pact in name only.

Now that you understand its roots, it becomes more clear why they prescribe their menu of solutions. The steel industry is long known as a bastion of protectionism, given the charges of foreign steel dumping a decade or so back.

So are there any other solutions out there? The competing group to AAM is the National Association of Manufacturers, a group whose board is representative of over 200 industrial leaders. Their vision is somewhat different than that of the union-backed organization, although there are elements of protectionism and top-down dictates in their plan as well. Most worrisome to me is their advocacy for immigration reform, which is needed but must be done in such a manner that law-breaking is not rewarded at the expense of those who went about it in the correct manner.

Yet NAM makes one sound point:

Because of our tax, tort, energy and regulatory policies, it is 20 percent more expensive to do business in the United States than it is in the countries that are our nine largest trading partners — and that excludes the cost of labor.

And it’s not like the problem is new, particularly here in Maryland. I mentioned Friday that Ron George is perhaps the gubernatorial candidate most attuned to the problem (David Craig has his own plan as well), although all but one of the players involved at the time had their say at an October manufacturing summit. Moreover, outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley was even forced to pay lip service to the issue.

But we have had this discussion for several years, and the prescriptions which were suggested a half-decade ago languished on the bookshelf while Maryland developed a growing reputation as a state hostile to business. It’s sort of strange that what I wrote on Friday – as a person who had never seen this report – nailed their first point about “a competitive and stable business environment.” They also talked about the need for a “balanced approach” to energy rather than the heavy emphasis on renewables, which is another pet peeve of mine. (Little did they know at the time the report was compiled – just five short years ago – that America and a portion of Maryland were sitting on an energy gold mine.)

In short, the solutions to the problem seem to be there and many fall into the conservative, pro-liberty camp. If we tell the radical environmentalists and regulators to go pound sand because we have work to do, chances are more of us would indeed have more work to do and more prosperity to spread around.

A chance to speak out

August is the time when official Washington shuts down, the tourists take over, and those who represent us return to their respective districts. Many use the opportunity to host townhall meetings in an effort to hear from and interact with his or her constituents.

But I’m fairly willing to bet that, aside from the possible exception of Andy Harris, you won’t hear a much more conservative voice conducting a townhall meeting than former Senator Jim DeMint, and you won’t have to travel to South Carolina or the fetid swamp of Washington, D.C. to attend. As part of Heritage Action and their proactive fight against Obamacare, the former Senator will be appearing in Joe Biden’s old stomping grounds of Wilmington, Delaware.

Seeing that the Eastern Shore isn’t all that far from Wilmington, this may be a good time investment for those of us interested in how some activists are combating Obamacare.

I suspect the number of former Senators will outnumber the number of current Delaware Senators at the meeting. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Rep. John Carney counter-program with their own meetings that night, just to try and divide and conquer the Delaware opposition, such as the 9/12 Delaware Patriots.

Too bad there’s a lot of First State residents who agree with DeMint and Heritage Action.

Friday night videos episode 48

It’s back again, with something new at the end.

We are coming to an election where the most important number is in doubt: is the unemployment rate really 9.6% as the government says or 10.1% as Gallup postulates? Americans for Limited Government thinks they have an answer.

But the group Bankrupting America says neither figure tells the story.

Maybe one solution would be to stop regulating us to death? Ben Lieberman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute explains on FOX News.

Yet our elected leadership simply doesn’t get it. They create straw men to pass blame to, for one.

Yes, that was recorded at Obama’s Bowie State appearance. Do you think the man has that feeling about someone like moveon.org?

I don’t think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets it either. Ron Futrell of Liberty.org tells the story.

In the most recent Freedom Minute, Renee Giachino describes how liberals are running scared.

The guy who should be running scared is Chris Coons; otherwise Delaware voters may be the ones frightened by their tax increases.

I’m still laughing about that one.

I think over the next two weeks I’m going to devote my FNV series to candidate videos – not necessarily the ones done by other media outlets who may or may not have their own agenda, but done by the candidates themselves. Here’s an example from County Executive hopeful Joe Ollinger.

Okay, time to shift gears. Last weekend I was at the Good Beer Festival and I brought my camera. This is an up-and-coming young local band called Naylor Mill. (With a name like that, they have to be local.)

The sound is just a touch overmodulated on the video (it sounded better on my computer before I uploaded it) but you get the idea. In a future FNV episode I’ll feature other stuff from the band.

But for the next couple weeks it’s going to be primarily candidates on themselves.

Delaware challenger receives a key boost

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to Delaware politics lately because Maryland is so busy right now.

But when a leading national Tea Party organization takes notice of a particular candidate, that is pretty big news. So it was yesterday when I got this notice from the TEA Party Express endorsing GOP Senate challenger Christine O’Donnell.

The Tea Party Express is pleased to announce its endorsement of Christine O’Donnell for U.S. Senate in Delaware.

O’Donnell is battling liberal Republican Congressman Mike Castle for the GOP nomination.

“Christine O’Donnell has established a reputation as a strong voice for conservative constitutionalist principles consistent with the ideals of the tea party movement,” said Amy Kremer, Chairman of the Tea Party Express and one of the founding activists of the modern tea party movement.

In contrast, Mike Castle has proven himself to be one of the most liberal establishment Republicans who has repeatedly turned against conservatives and those in the tea party movement.

“We’re so excited to see the strength behind Christine O’Donnell’s campaign,” said Joe Wierzbicki, Coordinator for the Tea Party Express.

“We long ago announced our intention to hold Mike Castle accountable for his failed record in Congress, and now we have an excellent shot to make sure he is defeated by a solid conservative candidate,” Wierzbicki said.

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows O’Donnell polling ahead of Democrat candidate, Chris Coons by a 41%-39% margin.

During the Tea Party Express’ first national bus tour, Wierzbicki declared to CNN and other media outlets that Castle was one of the worst-offenders who needed to be defeated by the tea party movement. 

One specialty of the TEA Party Express is raising money. They count among their successes Nevada Senate challenger Sharron Angle, for whom they spent $550,000 on her behalf, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, where the TEA Party Express spent $350,000. Other candidates they claim as political scalps include Utah Senator Bob Bennett, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Congressman Allan Mollohan. They also brag about scaring Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak out of a re-election bid with their threat to raise $250,000 against him.

But the TEA Party Express support is derived from that recent Rasmussen Poll cited, which had O’Donnell leading Coons and putting the lie to establishment First State Republicans who claim only Castle can win the “Biden seat.”

Considering the vast difference in resources between the two GOP hopefuls (Castle has $2.6 million on hand compared to just a shade under $70,000 for O’Donnell) it’s clear that Christine has a big hill to climb. Luckily, Delaware is a small state and the media dynamics are unique because Delaware shares television markets with adjacent states which are also busy with spirited electoral races. This makes retail campaigning a bit more effective. (It’s also worth pointing out that Democrat Chris Coons has about $950,000 on hand, which in terms of funding means he’s an easier target than Castle.) Putting national resources behind her may make O’Donnell enough of a candidate to turn that seat over to a conservative Republican – only time will tell.

And if we can get a close-by TEA Party Express 4 stop out of it I’ll be a happy man.