2020 gubernatorial dossier: Law Enforcement/Judicial

This is the third part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, law enforcement and judicial are worth 9 points. These will be presented in a randomized order.

Julianne Murray: I didn’t have anything for Julianne until yesterday, when she remarked, “As your next Governor, I will never play politics with our public safety and I will never defund our police. The police will have a Governor who they can rely upon to give them the tools they need to do their job and the public support they have earned.”

She added, “I will not support liberal policies that are causing massive retirements of officers here in Delaware. They are retiring because they don’t believe they have backing from the top. Like you, I don’t want 911 calls to go unanswered.”

Bryant Richardson: Richardson is pushing what he calls the Safe Streets Act, as he explains: “A safe streets initiative will ensure adequate police presence in neighborhoods in partnership with community leaders to stop the flow of illegal drugs and prioritize the prosecution of sex trafficking crimes.” And while he acknowledges the right for peaceful protest, he adds, “When protests become violent, when rioters begin looting, there must be swift action to arrest those who are breaking the law, the same as you would for any other criminal acts. I will not allow undue force to be used, but I will not allow the lawless to harm others and damage and loot businesses.”

David Bosco: Claiming “our Law Enforcement has been left in the shadows,” Bosco has been decrying what he deems a lack of proper funding. He also agrees with Richardson that peaceful protest is fine, but law enforcement needs to take control when things get out of hand. Bosco has charged that, “The looting and rioting that causes damage to property and people needs to stop. Our Governor has told the police to stand down and let them do what they want.” He believes Governor Carney does not want to hurt the feelings of protestors.

David Graham: One of his base ideas is to establish an office of Inspector General, a person who would “weed out the crime, corruption, and self-dealing” that remain problems in Delaware. He would also reform family court based on a model in Connecticut.

Colin Bonini: A legislative achievement Colin points to is straightening out the city of Wilmington with their red-light camera program, eliminating the penalty for making legal right turns. Beyond that, he’s rather light on specifics as to what he would do in this category.

R. Scott Walker: Aside from his illegally placed signs – some of which advocate legalized marijuana – I’m not familiar with his views on this subject. Scott only has a personal social media page, so I’m forced into using items and comments from there. I suspect he’ll eventually have something to say on this topic, and the beauty of this format is that I can edit accordingly.

This is actually a category where I defer to the candidates and their views. Aside from enforcing the law fairly and appointing judges who will properly interpret the law according to the federal and state constitutions, I don’t have a really specific “ask” in this category. The next one is slated to be education.

2020 federal dossier: Intangibles

This is the final part of a ten-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, intangibles are only worth 5 points – unlike other parts, however, these points can be subtractive as well. Intangibles are items like issues that I don’t cover, their websites, how they are running their campaign, and so forth.

This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.

As has been the case in each of my revised parts, I’m working through the Republicans for House and Senate first, followed by the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and incumbent Democrats last.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Like his primary opponent, Lee keeps opioid abuse at the forefront of his campaign. Aside from that, though, he keeps things rather close to the vest: it’s telling that I had to dig out some nuggets of information.

After a decent start, the lines of communication between the Murphy campaign and me have become a bit strained. I think we work at cross purposes.

One thing Lee has going for him is that he has run a statewide campaign. But the strike against him is that he’s not run a successful statewide campaign and the person he lost in said statewide campaign to is generally the butt of political jokes for his colorful personality and party-jumping skills. Obviously Lee has lost some races in hopeless situations, but this one was like fumbling at the five-yard line on the way to the winning touchdown.

He has picked up the pace to an extent after winning the primary, however. The question is whether his Democrat opponent’s mile-wide support is more than an inch deep. He needs to ask what his opponent has done for Delaware as opposed to what she’s done to Delaware. I am adding two points of five to his score.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Lauren is not shy about expressing her opinion. Perhaps that’s not quite the standard temperament for the Senate, but it seems to work for Ted Cruz. It has gotten her into a little bit of trouble lately as well.

Out of a lot of interesting statements to consider in this category, I’m picking out two.

“So far the righteous anger and frustration conservatives have felt over the years, has only been channeled to only result in tax cuts and deregulation rulings in favor of the socially progressive billionaire class – A billionaire class that looks down upon and views anyone on Main Street America, the American worker, or any social conservative (for that matter) with contempt.”

She is correct to a point; however, I believe the tax cuts and deregulation have improved the lot for all of us. Billionaires are in a better position to prosper, but bear in mind that they have written many of the regulations in order to tamp down potential competition. So deregulation defeats their purpose.

Secondly:

“I reject Bernie’s socialist ideology. But I understand why my generation seems to embrace it. Crippling student loan debt, unaffordable healthcare, unemployment, addiction, low wages, and in-achievable home ownership for the younger generation has become a stagnant norm.

When a socialist candidate provides solutions to their current problems, we’d be fools to believe they won’t embrace it. We have a serious battle ahead of us against a radical socialist takeover.”

What we need to do is properly educate Millennials that what the Bernie/Biden brigade is promising is fool’s gold, the value of which will indebt their grandchildren’s grandchildren to a one-world tyranny where they will be cogs in the machine unless blessed by birth to be in the ruling class. The rest will suffer the serfdom of the Dark Ages.

It’s where I depart from Lauren’s big-government philosophy, because regardless of the intentions of big government, in the end it only succeeds in reducing our liberty.

However, there are two things Lauren is doing very well in this campaign: nationalizing her race (which is a must in an uphill battle like this) and engaging voters at a far more frenetic pace than either her primary opponent or the Democrat incumbent. (However, he will simply bombard the airwaves with 30 second commercials about “orange man bad” and call it engagement. That’s the advantage of a seven-figure war chest Lauren doesn’t have.) And while I don’t agree with her embrace of Big Labor, that overture does make an inroads into her opponent’s core constituency.

I endorsed Lauren in the GOP primary, but in the general election she’s presented a contrast not just to her Democrat opponent but to the other two ballot-eligible opponents as well – and it’s not always favorable to her. Initially I was adding a full five points to her score based on how she has run her primary campaign but now I think she only merits three additional points out of five.

David Rogers (L) (House)

The biggest intangible I can find for Rogers is his belief that we should end qualified immunity for the police as well as the War on Drugs. Both of these seem like knee-jerk reactions to current events, although the latter platform plank has been a longtime libertarian staple in some form or another. (To some extent, I agree with it.)

But to the extent that I have had to dig out information about his campaign, it is a problem. I realize that the minor parties don’t have money to speak of, but with ballot access already assured (unlike the situation in other states) the Libertarians should be selecting candidates who are more willing to spread their word. On this token, they fall short of their IPoD competition. I’m deducting three points of five from his score.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

One intriguing idea that arguably could have made it into the role of government category is that of prohibiting Congress from meeting in Washington, D.C. for more than sixty days a year. “Those asses want to bribe our legislators?” she writes. “They are going to have to fly to every effing district and meet them in a one-to-one basis. That oughta cool their jets.”

Nadine doesn’t mince words about the VA (a “corrupt, mismanaged” institution) either.

But her big win is stating, “We are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Big Government feeds on these rights, and spits on the very citizens it is supposed to serve,” adding, ”Politicians in general cannot have a serious effect on the economy – only negative consequences.” That to me is a message to Lauren Witzke as well as Chris Coons.

For the resources she has, Nadine has run a fairly decent campaign. I’m giving her four points out of five.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

This is the sort of rhetoric which tells you CSP is not a politician, “(There has been a) disinformation campaign launched to separate and divide Americans. I think there should be warning labels on FAKE news and fabricated stories. Stiff penalties for crisis actors creating productions that don’t exist and whose intentions are to stir race wars.” It sounds way off on the right, but some of her positions are well left of center.

Out of all the candidates, I posit that she is running the most unconventional race by far. Of course, the problem she has is the same as most other minor-party hopefuls: no name recognition. She may have better face recognition based on her signs, but there aren’t photos on the ballot. All things considered, as hard as she is working on social media I will leave her score the same.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

I alluded to his wish to be a moderating influence in my last part. So while I don’t have the rhetoric I get from other corners of the Senate race, I don’t see him as one who would make needed change either. And his campaign is about as low-key as one can get, which is not conducive to winning or making a difference. I’m deducting one point of five.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

She is running the ultimate “play it safe” campaign and resting on her supposed laurels. Sadly, that may be good enough because too many voters are uninformed and I can only push back the frontiers of ignorance a little bit at the moment. I can also take off the full five points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

We’ve already see him whine about Amy Coney Barrett, which reminds me of his campaign that states, “Chris… works hard to protect our federal courts. He has earned a reputation as a tough, detailed questioner when pressing President Trump’s judicial nominees about their positions on key issues like race discrimination, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ equality. He has also been crucial in blocking some of President Trump’s least qualified and most dangerous nominees from lifetime appointments to the federal bench.” The only position that matters is how they interpret the Constitution – do they believe it is supposed to be interpreted as written or just made up from what they think it should be?

And when he says, “Protecting the civil rights of every American is one of Chris’ top priorities,” I wonder if some Americans are less protected than others. The same goes for my right to votes, as “Chris is leading efforts to protect the right to vote for all Americans and to ensure that exercising your right to vote is safe, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It was safe until you started pushing the vote-by-mail scam where someone’s vote out of whole cloth cancels out my legally won ballot which I’m going to show up to cast because I can.

We have three people on the ballot who would be way better Senators than Chris Coons. I deduct all five points.

Originally I did my endorsement at this point for the GOP primary, but I think I will hold off for two reasons. One is more punch to the post as I will do the governor’s race at the same time, but the other is because I have two rather close races. Take a look at my standings:

Standings:

House: Murphy 33.5, CSP 24, Rogers 13.5, LBR (-1.5).

Senate: Frost 45.5, Witzke 43.5, Turley 7.5, Coons (-3).

There are categories for each of my top two which were left blank so I want to maximize the opportunity for score improvement. I anticipate making a mid-October endorsement, in time for most mail-in ballots to be sent.

2020 dossier series

As a service to readers, I am pinning this post to the top of my website through Election Day. If you would like to check out the candidates, I have also moved that sidebar closer to the top of the site, too. (Don’t forget that below that is this year’s monoblogue Accountability Project, covering the Delaware General Assembly.) I link to each part as I complete them and they are published:

Delaware federal offices

  • Education (July 23, updated September 20)
  • Second Amendment (July 24, updated September 21)
  • Energy (August 3, updated September 24)
  • Social Issues (July 25, updated September 21)
  • Trade and Job Creation (July 26, updated September 22)
  • Taxation (August 3, updated September 24)
  • Immigration (August 4, updated September 25)
  • Foreign Policy (August 7, updated September 25)
  • Entitlements (August 9, updated September 25)
  • Role of Government (August 10, updated September 26)
  • Intangibles (August 13, updated September 27)

Delaware Governor

New content (including portions of these dossiers) begins below.

Announcing: the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project

For the third time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location or through this direct link.

Last October I did an interim edition for this session, but because of the truncated 2020 portion it was adapted to a full-session edition with just 4 new votes. I dropped four votes from the 2019 portion to maintain my even 25 votes, with scores revised accordingly. (This actually helped a fair number of legislators.)

And if you were sharp-eyed over the weekend, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” yesterday by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. The nanny state and Trump Derangement Syndrome were out in full force this session, certainly driven in large part by a number of new faces elected in 2018 in both bodies.

The pandemic has radically changed our lives, but aside from a few knee-jerk bills we will probably rue later, the DGA continued our fair state’s march to the left. Unfortunately, no one took my advice last year and became primary opponents to the RINOs who occupy many of the GOP seats in Delaware, nor are most of these legislators going anywhere.

Consider that, out of the 52 seats available this time (10 Senators are in the middle of their four-year term), there are 31 held by Democrats and 21 held by Republicans of all stripes. Out of that group, only two legislators are not seeking another term – notably, Senator Harris McDowell is retiring after 44 years. That brings us down to 50 seeking to retain office (29 Democrats, 21 Republicans.)

On this year’s mAP I have a series of columns that show whether legislators have primary and/or general election opponents. I’m ashamed to tell you that, out of 50 remaining DGA members, 27 of them have no opposition on the ballot at all (11 Republican, 16 Democrat.) Take the remaining 23 and subtract 3 Democrats who only have primary opposition (no Republican opponent), and you’ll see there are only 20 seats in the DGA which could flip between parties.

Currently the DGA is 25-16 Democrat in the House and 12-9 Democrat in the Senate. As it stands right now, barring a miraculous write-in campaign, the House is already 17-9 Democrat and the Senate 9-6 Democrat, so the Democrats only need to win 6 of the remaining 21 elections to maintain control. Thanks to mail-in voting they can cheat their way to that, no sweat.

Moreover, look at who actually drew primary opponents. Eight legislators have one thing in common: all Democrats. Not a single Republican drew a primary opponent. Are you telling me that the GOP rank-and-file is satisfied with the pathetic, milquetoast opposition their legislators provide? Meanwhile, the Democrats who were primaried tend to either be first-term legislators or, more likely, the old guard who is being targeted by younger progressives. The Democrats are very successful at replacing centrists with radicals, but the Republicans just drift leftward to go with the flow.

It’s time for conservatives to put their money where their mouth is. 2022 is an off-year election but every seat is up due to redistricting. That will be the time to step up. And yes, I know the Democrats will be drawing the districts to present themselves the best advantage possible but that can be overcome. We need to right this ship of state because I’m sure you’ll see in two years when I revisit the mAP that things are even worse.

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.

Delaware, the Charlie Brown of states

John Carney is stunning in that blue dress, is he not?

Originally, the current state of emergency the First State is laboring under was supposed to expire on April 15, but days before that deadline was to occur Delaware Governor John Carney extended its provisions to May 15.

Yet despite the fact our state is “flattening the curve” and exhibits a trend of declining cases, this state of emergency and its onerous job-killing restrictions have yet again been extended through May 31. Lucy is yet again pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, meaning businesses that depend on a Memorial Day weekend surge to kick off their profitable summer season are now being starved yet again of their revenue source; meanwhile neighboring Maryland is cautiously reopening its beach areas. (This despite unseasonably cool weather in the region this weekend; something for which the extended forecast promises a makeup next weekend with highs here on the interior of slower lower Delaware passing the 80 degree mark.)

One extreme example of short-sightedness comes from the idea that farmer’s markets are “non-essential” in Delaware, so they can’t open until the state of emergency is lifted. Unfortunately, farmers need an outlet for some of their crops – perennials like asparagus and strawberries are early-season staples but they will rot in the field without outlets to sell them. Since the restaurant business is way down, farmers now face the question of whether to plant at all. If they don’t, then expect shortages and higher prices later this fall.

And while it’s more of a formality since the presumptive nominees have already been decided, the second postponement of the Delaware presidential primary until July 7 was completely unnecessary. Because the results are a fait accompli, voting could have been done safely with the addition of social distancing and personal protection on their initially rescheduled June 2 date. Instead, this push toward mail-in balloting seems to be the excuse to try to adopt it for November when much more is at stake: while Delaware is most likely a shoo-in for Joe Biden thanks to his longtime connection to the state, the governor’s chair, office of lieutenant governor, and control of the state legislature still hang in the balance. (The delay also affects a slew of local elections, including school boards which were pushed back to July 21.)

The next month or two is going to tell a tale in this country. We have states where personal responsibility is paramount, such as the otherwise generally ignored state of South Dakota where restrictions were very light, and we have states like Michigan and New York where governors seem to be drunk with power and, in the case of Michigan, ignore their legislative branch. Sadly, here in Delaware we have a governor run amok but no real opposition party to call him out on it. In fact, at this point in time there is no announced Republican candidate to oppose John Carney this November. (At the moment, the only contender is Libertarian John Machurek.)

That might be fine with the sheeple and Karens who continually complain about the out-of-state license plates on cars heading to the beach and want to keep the state closed, but there are those of us who echo Samuel Adams: “It does not take a majority to prevail . . . but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” We are definitely irate given the current state of affairs, but my question is just how tired the TEA Party movement has become. Maybe it needs a second wind.

So I’m going to close with a throwback Sunday. For the course of a few years I did a series of posts called Friday Night Videos. It began as a way of sharing political videos but eventually evolved into an outlet for local music, including some of the video I took for doing photos and posts for another longstanding series of mine called Weekend of Local Rock. (I still have a Youtube channel.)

But aside from the items I uploaded, one of my all-time favorite Friday Night videos on the music side came from a talented and patriotic New York-based singer named Ava Aston. If you have read this blog for awhile, you’ve seen this video before but I thought over the last week or so it was time to bring it back.

It was time to bring this song back…for the people.

(This is the original 2009 version – a few years later Ava did a remix but I like the original a little better.)

I realize we are in a pandemic, but shutting down should have been the last resort, not the first option. Let’s get things back to normal prudently, but quickly. And don’t believe Lucy when she puts down that football.

A rush to condemn, part 2

A recent post on Twitter by a Delaware state senator made local news, and it’s just another example of what I meant in my last post.

State Senator Bryan Townsend is, of course, a Democrat who owns a measly 11 lifetime rating (out of a possible 100) on the Delaware edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project. But his retweet of a cartoon obviously depicting Limbaugh of a member of the KKK is yet another example of what I described yesterday.

Of course many who replied to the Tweet let him have it. But in looking down his overall Twitter feed (which intersperses between mainly political-related items with a few family observations tossed in) it’s apparent that he’s not going to care one iota regardless of the remarks, or the facts: like his longtime call screener Bo Snerdley (a black man) we’re still waiting for all the racist remarks Rush has made. But to Townsend (a politician) perception is reality.

It also goes without saying that there’s a double standard at work here, since two different local GOP party officials were recently drummed out of their party roles thanks to insensitive remarks on their part. But I doubt Townsend is going anywhere and he has the luxury of his seat not being up until 2022, as he was re-elected in 2018 with the largest margin of victory among the eight Senators who faced opposition, with just under 76%. He represents the leafy suburbia of New Castle County – his district runs along I-95 just west of the Christiana Mall – so Bryan obviously has his constituents fooled into believing he’s worthy of support. I just feel sorry for his small children, being raised by parents with such beliefs.

I’m also glad he’s not my state senator. Ironically, I found out my state senator is a newspaper owner so you can imagine how much scrutiny his editions receive. Maybe that’s the most prudent approach?

On the duopoly

One facet of the early TEA Party which fascinated me was the debate on whether to try to form a political TEA Party or work through the existing two-party system, or, as I call it, the duopoly. In Rise and Fall I devoted a significant part of the early chapters to the TEA Party’s impact on two political campaigns: the 2009 Doug Hoffman Congressional race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District and the Scott Brown Senate race for the “Kennedy seat” in Massachusetts in 2009-10.

In the Hoffman case, you may recall that the Republican nominee was selected by local party officials rather than the electorate at large, resulting in a candidate, state Assembly member Dede Scozzafava, who was deemed most electable as a moderate as opposed to necessarily espousing Republican principles. Hoffman, who had also interviewed for the seat and had originally pledged his support for Scozzafava, eventually prevailed upon New York’s Conservative Party to give him his own ballot line.

Although Hoffman was in a close second place by the time late October rolled around – thanks to the sudden interest of the TEA Party in a rather obscure, backwater Congressional district special election race – the eventual withdrawal by the Republican and her endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens, along with a disadvantageous ballot position, pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. (Owens had the advantage of two ballot lines as well, as a far-left party endorsed him rather than run a candidate on their own.)

Stung by that loss, the TEA Party tried things the other way. Fast-forward about six weeks and once Scott Brown made it official by winning the Republican nomination for the Massachusetts special election it was (practically) all hands on deck – never mind he was arguably to the left of Scozzafava overall and there was an independent libertarian candidate in the race (ironically by the name of Joseph Kennedy, but no relation to the Camelot clan) who may have been more suitable philosophically. Aside from the small percentage who argued the Kennedy case on TEA Party principles, the national focus was on Brown winning, and as we now know, he did – and was soon rather disappointing for two reasons: one, his moderate stances, and secondly, he’s the one who gave us Elizabeth Warren because he got his doors blown off in the 2012 general, when his wasn’t the only race of national concern.

In short, this brief few months sealed a key decision (and perhaps error) by those who were the leaders of the TEA Party: they chose to try and reform the Republican Party from within. Convinced that someplace within the GOP were candidates and officeholders receptive to the conservative message of the TEA Party, the effort in the first half of last decade was to take over the GOP from within, through gaining seats in local precincts and working their way up the ranks. By now you would think this policy of percolating through from the grassroots would be bearing sizable fruit – but it doesn’t seem to be working that way.

This long prelude has finally brought me to my main point and inspiration. One of those who I made acquaintance with in promoting my book over the summer was Andy Hooser, whose radio show “The Voice of Reason” was the seventh stop on my radio tour. (I remember doing his show pacing around my backyard on what I called “Triple Dip Friday” – three shows in one day!)

Since then I’ve signed up for updates and the other day Andy introduced the current two-party system as a topic of discussion, noting in part:

We have been the ones, as members of the parties, that have allowed the parties to get out of hand. Our nation was built on strong, hard individuals who were leaders, not followers. The founding fathers that did promote a two party system, did so with the idea that the informed, active member of society could listen to an argument, contribute to the cause, and help the party accomplish it’s goals. Now…the party creates fear in the hearts of ill-informed followers to create an agenda. With our lack of involvement in politics…with our lack of engagement in the system…and our lack of understanding of issues as a society, the parties are no longer run by us…but for for self preservation with us as the follower to keep the lifeline going. 

So how do we fix this? A third party? HA. Third parties are no more relevant than Vermin Supreme running for President. The only thing third parties do, is potentially swing an election to the side lest in line with your views. 

Our job is to fix the parties from within. We cannot destroy them (unless they destroy themselves…Hello socialist Democrats?), we cannot leave them. At the end of the day, the money, they power, and the influence is within the parties. Our chance to change things…is the fix the party internally. Run for office locally. Set a standard of what you will tolerate as a platform for the party and the candidates. Hold you local, statewide, and national elected officials accountable. Don’t let them say one thing, yet vote another way. Work within your party. And bring it back to the platform it says it promotes. That’s the reason you joined it in the first place. 

“To be a two party system…or not to be!” – Voice of Reason website, January 29, 2020.

A common definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and it seems to me we in the TEA Party tried this approach a decade ago. Nor would it surprise me if the Moral Majority crowd didn’t try it in the early 1980s, to name another somewhat failed attempt to mold and shape politics to their will. Everything old is new again.

This assertion also begs the question: are the two parties really that popular? Since I was a Maryland resident at the time, this is where the party registration totals stood the day after the initial set of TEA Parties, February 28, 2009:

  • Democrat: 1,953,650 (56.9%)
  • Republican: 919,500 (26.8%)
  • unaffiliated: 482,806 (14.1%)
  • all others: 76,486 (2.2%)

It was a D+30 state. Now let’s see where we are at as of the end of 2019:

  • Democrat: 2,204,017 (54.7%)
  • Republican: 1,009,635 (25.0%)
  • unaffiliated: 757,953 (18.8%)
  • all others: 60,536 (1.5%)

Of the four major groups, the only one which is growing in rate are the unaffiliated. But it is still a D+30 state.

Turning to my adopted home state of Delaware, the online numbers only go back to 2010. In Delaware at that time (January 2010) there were 25 (!) registered parties but only four had ballot access: Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and the Independent Party of Delaware (or IPOD).

  • Democrat: 287,821 (47.1%)
  • Republican: 180,479 (29.5%)
  • unaffiliated: 137,072 (22.4%)
  • all others: 6,095 (1.0%)

That would make it a D+18 state, which was a little more promising for conservatives. So where do we stand now, a decade later? Well, we are down to 17 parties listed but the top dogs are still on top:

  • Democrat: 338,586 (47.4%)
  • Republican: 198,018 (27.7%)
  • unaffiliated: 163,150 (22.8%)
  • all others: 14,365 (2.0%)

The Delaware GOP has seen their previous support splinter in every direction: their 1.8% loss has gone slightly to the Democrats (0.4%) and unaffiliated groups (also 0.4%) but mainly to minor parties, which doubled to 2% of the electorate. Now it’s a D+20 state.

What does this all mean? Well, at least in this small area of the country, it means that if the TEA Party took over the Republican Party, it didn’t do a very good job of making it thrive. (Given the Delaware GOP’s treatment of their Senate primary winner Christine O’Donnell in 2010, it wouldn’t surprise me if a significant part of their registration loss came from that incident.) Of course, there are other areas of the nation where the GOP is probably growing but I suspect these types of declining numbers are prevalent in many areas.

So why not a third party? Well, if you look at our history as a whole our political system went through a number of party upheavals in its first century, but the last major shift came in the 1850s as the Republican Party ascended over the ruins of the old Whig Party. I tend to believe that as time went on the two dominant parties entered into a gentleman’s agreement to divvy the political spoils among themselves, making it more difficult for competing parties to grow and prosper.

Imagine the time and effort wasted by the Libertarians, Green Party, Constitution Party, Reform Party, and others in having to gain ballot access again and again in some states, such as Maryland – a state that required parties secure 1% of the vote in certain races or go through a process of collecting thousands of signatures just to qualify for another cycle. Of course, the Republicans and Democrats don’t have to do this, and they are the ones who prefer the duopoly because it cuts off competition.

On the other hand, the reason Delaware has so many parties is fairly lax rules on party formation. Their biggest hurdle is getting and maintaining 1% of registered voters for ballot access, but it’s been done by the Libertarians, Green Party, and IPOD, so there are possibly five choices all across the political spectrum. (They are very close to six, if the American Delta Party can pick up a handful of voters.) Granted, none of these parties fill a ballot all the way down to state representative, but I believe the reason is a self-fulfilling prophecy (created by the duopoly, echoed by the media) that only a D or R can win.

Over the years, there has become a “lesser of two evils” approach to voting: people voted for Donald Trump not because they were enamored with him but because they were really afraid of what Hillary Clinton would do to us. We were all told that “a vote for Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, etc. is a vote for Hillary.” So they were scared into voting for Trump. (On the other hand, having disgruntled Bernie Sanders backers and conventional wisdom that Hillary would easily win may have freed those on the Left to vote for who they really wanted, to Hillary’s detriment.)

That was the approach by enough people in enough states (including her so-called “firewall” across the Midwest) to give Donald Trump the upset victory despite the fact more Republicans voted against him than in his favor during the primary season, although Trump had the plurality by the time it was over. (As Democrats did against Barack Obama in 2008 – Hillary Clinton won that popular vote, too.)

But what if people had something to vote for? If you’re on the far left, maybe you like the Green Party or Socialist Workers Party, while those on the conservative side may prefer my political home, the Constitution Party. There’s nothing hurt by giving the electorate more choices, but the key is getting states to loosen up balloting requirements.

And if we want a real TEA Party, it would become possible and easier to build one from the bottom up. Why take over a party which is set in its ways when you can build to suit? Let’s make that easier to do.

A problem with democracy

What if you have an election and nobody shows up?

That seems to be the case in Delmar, as the little town too big for one state had only 28 residents bother to show up for the town election held on Tuesday. And if you think this was because the elections were walkovers, it sounds like at least the mayor’s office was contested. (I would think at least one were contested, otherwise the election would be cancelled.) By the way, congratulations to Karen Wells for another successful election.

Nor is it a case of Delmar just being a speck on the map – according to one report there are 1,987 registered voters in the city so that means turnout weighed in at about 1.4 percent. Sorry to be so blunt, but that is pathetic. And it’s nothing new – the 2015 election only drew 41 voters.

Obviously I’m no expert on Delmar’s city code, but it seems to me that poor turnout like that would be a good reason to re-evaluate the whole election situation. It’s fine to have off-year elections, but perhaps they need to place their balloting on the same election day most other people are aware of, the first Tuesday in November. Granted, you run the risk of being overshadowed by Salisbury’s election when both run concurrently but perhaps that will bring the event to mind for more than 2 percent of the voting public.

Look, while this was a Delmar, Maryland election it’s worth noting in my case that here in Delaware it’s more like the system I grew up with in Ohio where there are elections for something each year: local offices and school boards in odd-numbered years, and state and federal offices in even-numbered years. Whichever state you’re in, it’s the responsibility of a good citizen to participate in this republic by voting at each opportunity – even if you don’t like the candidates (oftentimes I do not) and even if it’s not the most convenient thing to do. We just can’t abide as a nation when 1.4% voter turnout is met with a shrug of the shoulders.

Beginning from my little corner

There are some who will likely appreciate the symbolism in this post.

I’m standing in Maryland but pretty much everything you see in the photo beyond the fence is Delaware.

On Friday I took a little side trip on my way home. I’ve passed by this place a few times over the years, but since I’ve moved to the First State I drive by this monument every day on my way to work. But until the other day I’d never stopped to look at it despite its historical significance.

The plaque explains the significance of the monument.

On my way into work one day it dawned on me that the monument is the perfect symbol of a new beginning, a staking out of a starting point and a redirection for this site. For many years I’ve been known as a Maryland-centric political blogger, but since I left the political game as a participant I had ceded the field to others who have done their level best to monetize their work and proclaim themselves as some sort of kingmaker in a Republican governor’s office. And that’s fine, more power to them – they live closer to the seat of power and apparently have to time to invest in those activities.

While I don’t have the utmost in time, in scanning the situation here in the First State I’ve found that there aren’t any active conservative blogs here. (If there are, they are pretty well hidden.) Truth be told, there aren’t a whole lot of liberal ones either but they do exist and I can’t abide that sort of situation. It’s something which needed to be addressed, so I will make up the hedge for the time being – assistance is encouraged!

So here I begin, almost literally from square one because I don’t yet know the players aside from studying the voting records for the Delaware General Assembly for the last couple years. (More on that in a bit.) The way I look at it is that I have staked out this corner as a beginning spot. Yes, it’s symbolic but in actuality I don’t live all that far from this point. (I think as the crow flies it’s about 5 1/2 miles, but I live less than two from the northerly extension of this line.) If you took in the territory between our home and this point, there are probably only a few hundred people living there in scattered homes and one development. And right now that’s probably about all I have to go to war with in this state – a state that is rapidly changing, and not necessarily for the better.

I wonder how they divvy up all this coin. By blind chance, 3/4 of it would fall in Maryland.

I suppose, then, that step one of this process is to announce the 2019 edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware, which I finally got to wrap up this weekend. I’ll formally announce it tomorrow morning although the soft opening will be this evening once I create the PDF and add the link. (And no, I did not do a Maryland one this year, nor will I. That can be someone else’s baby, maybe some red-colored site.)

I think it’s a start to rally the liberty-lovers in this state, who I’ve found to be really, really, really poorly served by the Delaware GOP. I have more thoughts in mind on a number of First State issues, but this will be the first in what should be a few significant changes regarding this website. Stay tuned.

A subtle but important change

I don’t know how many of you have ever noticed my tagline that’s been up pretty much since this website came online back in 2005, but it’s the part that said some variant of “news and views from Maryland’s Eastern Shore.” Well, today’s post is one of the last from the Eastern Shore as my wife and I have finally bought a home in the First State. (So I’ve changed it.)

With the change comes a change in emphasis. I’ve always had kind of a state-based focus, but after a little bit of study and being in office it became apparent that the Eastern Shore is indeed the shithouse of Maryland politics. For the most part, our needs are ignored by the state of Maryland simply because there’s not enough voters on the Shore to make a big difference. We on the Shore lay some claim to 12 out of 141 members of the Maryland General Assembly and 4 of 47 Senators in the Maryland Senate, which means that our desires are pretty much subordinated by any one of a half-dozen or so individual counties on the other side of the Bay.

And even when we have a governor who belongs to the same political party as the plurality of the Eastern Shore – where five of the nine counties lean Republican and the other four have registration numbers within striking distance – the desires of this region rarely pass muster. At best, they are watered down; at worst, things we oppose become law without Larry Hogan’s signature or a veto – even when a veto assures current law remains in force for another eight to nine months before the next year’s session and the inevitable override. It’s shameful that longheld local GOP priorities often get short shrift in Annapolis, and it’s doubtful that any change back to the Democrats will help. (For example, don’t be fooled by the moderate facade Peter Franchot’s assuming for his nascent gubernatorial run; he told me all I needed to know with his statement about Alabama.)

On the other hand, while Sussex County is but about 1/4 of Delaware’s population, it’s the fastest-growing county of the three in Delaware. And if I really had the desire to get down in the weeds of local and state politics moreso than my monoblogue Accountability Project and the occasional foray into interesting issues such as the right-to-work battle that ended early last year, I have an election coming up where all 41 members of the Delaware General Assembly, half their 21-member Senate, and Governor John Carney are all on the ballot for election.

It’s also worth remembering why I began the Delaware edition of my Accountability Project – since I was working for a decent-sized homebuilder at the time and I noticed that well over half its clientele was coming from other nearby states (including Maryland) I realized that keeping Delaware attractive was good for business and affected my paycheck. Of course, now the situation is reversed somewhat since I work here in Maryland, but that business sinks or swims more on other factors where ineffective government doesn’t affect it quite as much. And, frankly, I need a new horizon anyway. (Even more frankly, from what I’ve seen about the Delaware Republican Party it makes Maryland’s look professional – and that’s a very low bar to set. I think I’ll register with the Constitution Party.)

So I’m departing the Maryland political scene for the most part, a move begun by my resignation from the Central Committee three years ago and hastened by our house search. It’s time for someone else to take the reins, or those reins can lay on the ground and be trampled into the mud. I guess that depends on just who cares.

Announcing: the 2017-18 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware Edition

For the second time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location, or right here.

One new feature because Delaware has staggered elections is an indicator of whether the legislator is running for another term, and if so what sort of opposition he or she faces. Some have a free ride through the primary, while a select few have no general election opponent.

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. But even the darkest sky has a few stars in it, and one shone very brightly as a beacon of conservatism.

The 25 votes I used were split with nine being dealt with in 2017 and 16 having final action this year. At least one of these bills took nearly the full two sessions to be finalized, but most of them came along earlier this year. In truth, I had the tallying completed several weeks ago but, like in Maryland, I had to wait for the prescribed post-session signing deadline to come and go. It’s my understanding that bills not signed within thirty days of the end of the second-year Delaware legislative session are pocket vetoed, and two of the mAP – DE bills were in that category. By my count, thirty days (excluding Sundays) from the end of session fell on this past Saturday: hopefully I won’t have quick editing to do.

And if you were sharp-eyed last night, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

So, Delaware, here is the voting guide you need this fall – use it wisely.