New Delaware links

Apparently it was a hot time in Sussex County last night – and we thought the battle for Chair here in Maryland between the establishment and TEA Party was intense. But given the venom which still exists after the entire Christine O’Donnell and Mike Castle primary last September (five months ago!), I’m doubtful we here in Maryland have anything on the First State.

Obviously I’m looking at this as an outside observer, but thanks to Chris Slavens (who I already link to) I found a few other link-worthy sites across the Transpeninsular Line – check out and their extensive coverage along with Blue Hen Conservative and Sussex County Angel

In many ways, Delaware is the image of Maryland – a state dominated by an urban region where conservative rural residents are forgotten or just plain abused by the state government. They have a story worth telling as well, and while I don’t focus much on their state it’s worth linking to those in the know.

The forgotten commercial

You have to wonder how many potential votes were lost when the television station “forgot” to air this. Perhaps all the Delaware and regional bloggers can pick up the slack.

We the People of the First State from Friends of Christine O’Donnell on Vimeo.

As a reminder, I’ll not be moderating comments until late tonight at the earliest since I have a House of Delegates race to help win.

New polling raises question on O’Donnell’s viability

Late last month I posted about the endorsement given to upstart Republican Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware U.S. Senate race. But perhaps the bloom is fading from the rose, or establishment Republicans in the First State have planted enough seeds of doubt in the minds of GOP stalwarts to push them away from the conservative challenger.

The most recent Rasmussen Poll in Delaware has Rep. Mike Castle handily defeating likely Democratic nominee Chris Coons by a 49-37 margin, with 9 percent undecided. While the margin has shrunk somewhat from earlier Rasmussen surveys, the pollster feels confident enough to state that the Senate seat now “leans Republican.”

On the other hand, O’Donnell, who trailed Coons within the margin of error last time around, now finds herself 10 points behind in a 46-36 race. Whether this is a result of Tea Party involvement or not is purely speculative, but one passage in Rasmussen’s report on the race raises some big questions:

If Castle is the nominee, the GOP makes serious inroads into the Democratic vote. Castle gets 81% of the Republican vote, while Coons carries just 56% of Democrats. But if O’Donnell is in the race, her GOP support is 66%, and 75% of Democrats support Coons. Voters not affiliated with either major party break close to even no matter which Republican is in the race.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of all voters in Delaware regard Castle as a conservative, while 61% feel this way about O’Donnell.  Fifty-seven percent (57%) consider Coons a liberal.

My first question is what the 54% in Delaware are smoking to consider Castle a conservative, that is, unless Rasmussen is polling a group who thinks Ho Chi Minh was a moderate. (Given that Delaware has a Communist Party that just may be the case.) And where are the 34% of Republicans who wouldn’t support O’Donnell going to go if she gets the nod? Would they vote for the guy most Delaware voters think is a liberal just to spite the mostly downstate conservatives who are O’Donnell’s base of support?

Let’s just let this observer speak:

“She has debts she hasn’t paid from the last race. She sold her house that was in foreclosure so she could run for Senate. She has a long history of not paying bills. She sued a conservative think tank that dismissed her. She’s a candidate who runs for office that unfortunately lives off the proceeds. You just don’t have a candidate in Christine O’Donnell that is considered credible. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a candidate with such a paper trail.”

When you come to find out this statement comes from Tom Ross, Delaware’s State Republican Party chair, perhaps it speaks volumes about the Delaware GOP. Apparently they would rather have a closet Democrat or the real thing. Yes, this is a state which sent Joe Biden to the U.S. Senate way too many times but you have to figure the lesson would sink in sometime.

Perhaps Christine O’Donnell isn’t the best representative of a conservative candidate, but that statement from the party chair demonstrates the Delaware GOP is in severe need of a housecleaning. No wonder O’Donnell is tanking in the polls.

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.

Dropping Delaware

It was a tough decision, but today I decided for space reasons to drop the links to Delaware political races.

Not counting party offices, in Wicomico County we are affected by four statewide races (governor, comptroller, attorney general, and U.S. Senator), two State Senate races, four races for Delegate, and contests for seven County Council seats, County Executive, Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Register of Wills, Clerk of the Courts, and three Orphan’s Court posts. It’s over 20 races for which to post candidates and links so something had to give.

Perhaps a blogger across the line like Chris Slavens or Elbert Collins can take up my slack and try to keep my Delaware readers informed. (Lord knows Salisbury blogger Joe Albero – who actually lives in Delaware – won’t do so.) Similarly, there should be a blogger or two in each county who aggregates the links for their home county and tries to keep readers informed about the political races. It could even be a job for the local hometown newspaper given the power of the internet and their presence there.

I don’t know how many local politicians read my site (my guess is most GOP officeholders do – Democrats, not so much) but if you have an event for my upcoming Political Calendar I’d appreciate a shout out – e-mail me or leave a message on my Facebook page. The better my calendar is the more readers, and the more readers there are the more people know about the event. And I won’t bury it among press releases, old jokes, and stories which are disproved by Hey, I’ll even take advertising from the right people.

So again, I apologize for disappointing my First State readers for needing to be more Maryland-centric but this is the year to change Maryland’s policies. Your chance comes in two years.

A tale of two celebrations

It was a memorable Memorial Day weekend, and the many methods of celebration provided a contrast in styles.

Yesterday I found myself at an American Legion post outside Millsboro, Delaware for the Concert for a Random Soldier.

Just as the sign says, this is the Concert for a Random Soldier. A total of nine bands participated, with some players also doing some solo work.

From the reports given, this concert gets more participation and attendance each year.

It was a pretty full house under the pavilion at American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro, Delaware.

Some people got up and danced the day away. Later this week I’ll do a separate Weekend of Local Rock post, but here’s the reaction to one of the bands, 8 Track Flashback.

This couple enjoyed the oldies played by one of the participating bands, 8 Track Flashback.

It was a pretty day and venue.

Looking at the venue from the parking lot. The pavilion is about three years old and proved to be a fine venue on a sunny day.

Yet there was more to do than just listen to music. They had plenty of food for sale as well.

How about some bratwurst? This was just one of the things you could eat at the Concert for a Random Soldier.

Or you could take in the car show; this one was my personal favorite.

Aaaaah, the era before OPEC raised its ugly head. This is a sharp Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 convertible from 1972.

How about buying a shirt? Actually, this is what I wore today to the following subject of my post.

For a donation, you could buy an event shirt. The nice thing is having the band list to see who helped out.

The beneficiary foundation was named after a local soldier who was killed in action.

The foundation gets the money, but the proceeds from this event were going to a group called Guitars for Vets.

His mother, Terri Clifton, spearheaded the event after Chad was killed in 2005. From humble beginnings it’s grown over the last 4 years.

Event organizer and Gold Star Mother Terri Clifton.

In truth there were actually nine bands since one dropped at the last minute, but it made for a full day of music. Nor is this the only event the Chad Clifton Foundation holds.

A 5-K run in July might not be the first thing on my to-do list, but for those in military shape it should be a piece of cake.

The final picture in my Concert for a Random Soldier story is just because.

I just liked the picture of the tank and flag, that's all.

Perhaps it leads me into my description of this morning’s events at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. Unlike the growth and change in the Concert for a Random Soldier over the last four years, Wicomico County’s commemoration ceremony changes little from year to year, even to the point of many participants being longtime veterans of the event itself. One example: Tony Sarbanes as master of ceremonies.

As has been the case each year, former County Councilman Tony Sarbanes served as master of ceremonies.

The Junior ROTC provides the manpower to lower the flags to half-staff.

JROTC cadets stand at attention after lowering the flags at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

Unfortunately, the oppressive heat claimed one of their numbers as a casualty, but she was relieved quickly and the ceremony carried on without her. Seemingly the event is always held on a warm, muggy morning.

Those who are various members of the military are recognized, along with elected officials. We also get representatives from the offices of Maryland’s Senators and Congressman Frank Kratovil.

County Executive Richard Pollitt (center) looks on during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

A group of county elected officials look on during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony. From left is County Councilman David MacLeod, a man I cannot identify, County Councilwoman Gail Bartkovich, County Councilman John Cannon, Sheriff Mike Lewis, and County Councilwoman Stevie Prettyman. County Councilman Joe Holloway, State's Attorney Davis Ruark, and Delegates Norm Conway and Jim Mathias were also present.

After prayers to represent each branch of the military, we moved on to the tolling of the Red Knights Memorial Bell and reading of the names of Wicomico County’s fallen. These tasks have always been done by John Lynch and Ed Tattersall, respectively.

John Lynch always doubts he'll see the next year's ceremony but he hasn't been right on that yet. He tolled the Red Knights Memorial Bell at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

Ed Tattersall recites the names of nearly 190 Wicomico County citizens killed in war since World War I at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

While Matthew Wallace plays ‘Amazing Grace’ a wreath is brought forth to a place of honor.

Matthew Wallace plays 'Amazing Grace' on his bagpipes during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

The wreath used at Wicomico County's Memorial Day ceremony.

The Wicomico County Sheriff Department has a detail which handles the volley of arms.

The volley of arms is performed by a trio from the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department.

One change comes in the duo playing “Taps.” This year it’s Isaiah Oakley and John Jochum doing the honors.

The mournful sound of 'Taps' being performed at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

With that, we hear the benediction (as always, performed by the Reverend J. Harvey Dixon) and we move on.

Most linger a little while to catch up with old friends; sadly, in more and more cases each year’s ceremony is the last for a certain number of World War II and Korean War veterans, with Vietnam veterans not that far behind in getting older and grayer. Soon it will be up to those who have survived the wars of my generation fought in the Middle East to carry on the tradition – including those contemporaries of Chad Clifton.

They will inherit a tradition left in good hands by those who fought decades or even a half-century ago. But even they simply carried on a line of honor unbroken since the aftermath of the War Between the States and I’m faithful in my belief that the torch will passed on to yet another Greatest Generation. While a concert may break from a solemn tradition, it is one way to remember the fallen and a reminder that there’s no “right way” to honor those who served.