For Delaware 2020

The other day I saw a photo of the scariest Halloween decoration out there: a white wooden cutout of “2020.” And in this year of the pandemic, we have had quite the state election campaign, haven’t we? Six Republicans running for governor, a spirited primary race for both sides in the Senate, and the inclusion of principled independent bids up and down the ballot have made this a rather unique balloting, particularly compared to previous Delaware elections I covered on a peripheral basis. It’s probably the most controversial run in a decade, since the O’Donnell vs. Castle U.S. Senate primary on the Republican side – a contest from which the rending of the state GOP still shows.

In this race, I have been a free agent of sorts: when I moved to Delaware I decided to call the Constitution Party my home because I’m more in tune with their political philosophy and, frankly, don’t have a lot of use for the Delaware Republican Party based on how they run their affairs and the candidates they support. Alas, the CP doesn’t have the numbers to have a ballot position nor do they have viable candidates running in the state. Thus, I had no primary vote, and the Republican voters of Delaware selected two of the three I would have preferred. (Feel free to cue up Meat Loaf if you desire.)

Besides my local races, which are walkovers because no one but the Republican bothered to file, I have five statewide races to consider: U.S. Senator, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I think I will handle them in the reverse order.

To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about the Insurance Commissioner duties or candidates, except for the fact I thought it unusual that a county sheriff would pivot into the position, as happened in 2016. Trinidad Navarro indeed made that transition, obviously helped by the familiarity to New Castle County voters and the D column he was placed in. (Before becoming a police officer, he was an insurance agent for a time – but considering the length of time he was a LEO, this insurance experience must have been rather brief.) Navarro’s biggest claim to fame since taking office was spearheading the drive to enshrine Obamacare into state law, which means we are stuck with these unaffordable provisions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Pillsbury comes from a different perspective – that of a pediatrician. As a business owner, she’s the one who has to deal with the insurance companies and wrestle with them as an advocate for those in her care. Just from looking from the outside, I believe that rather than having the fox watch the henhouse with a former insurance agent, perhaps it’s time to try a new approach and see if it works. I’m urging a vote for Dr. Julia Pillsbury.

Why do I get the feeling that incumbent Bethany Hall-Long is simply biding her time and waiting her turn as Lieutenant Governor? While the list of lieutenant governors who eventually grabbed the brass ring is still relatively short in Delaware, it includes two of the most recent previous three occupants of the office including the current governor. Anymore that seems like the Delaware Way and that’s not the way we should go, particularly as she’s apparently been a willing accomplice to Governor John Carney’s tyrannical ways.

I think Donyale Hall will be an active player who is also bringing in the perspective of an outsider – unlike her opponent, who spent 15 years in the Delaware General Assembly as her way of working up the political ladder. What do we have to show for the last twenty years she’s been in office? Donyale is placing her emphasis on education, economic advancement, and a streamlined budget – issues that appeal to hardworking Delaware families and not those who simply want their back scratched in return for bestowing the trappings of power. The better choice for Lieutenant Governor is Donyale Hall.

When the current governor John Carney ran for his latest office, he used a carefully cultivated reputation as a business-friendly moderate Democrat to finally win the office he thought he would grab back in 2008, when he lost a bitterly-contested primary to Jack Markell and could not succeed in doing what his “boss” Ruth Ann Minner did – advance directly to the Governor’s chair from being Lieutenant Governor. Instead, he cooled his heels in Congress after Mike Castle bolted for an ill-fated Senate run two years later.

Yet that belief Carney was business-friendly has evaporated in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed as of Friday 680 lives in Delaware – a number that would rank as the 56th largest city in Delaware if it were a town. I certainly don’t want to trivialize these victims, who were beloved by their families and friends, but the pandemic threw many thousands more out of work and continues to do so even as other similarly-situated rural states have reopened and returned to a relative state of normalcy.

That heavy-handed pandemic response was the factor that goaded six Republicans into joining the race to replace Carney. While two of these six had political experience as state Senators – including the candidate Carney defeated handily to win the governor’s chair in 2016 – Republican voters opted for an outsider, attorney Julianne Murray.

Julianne’s platform has been heavy on restoring small business to Delaware, and given these times it’s the right platform to have. Once again, it would be an outsider approach to state governance that may be the kick-start the state needs to succeed and not fall further behind its peers in everything except drawing retirees who take advantage of the three biggest assets Delaware has: inexpensive housing, low property taxes, and no sales tax. For them, the higher income taxes aren’t as much of a burden but for people who want to be productive private-sector employers it’s a lot more difficult.

It’s worth pointing out that there are four people in the race for governor, as it includes Libertarian John Machurek and Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD) hopeful Kathy DeMatteis.

Sadly, Machurek hasn’t run much of a campaign. I’ll grant that the Libertarian candidates don’t get a whole lot of love from the media except for the odd mention here and there and they don’t get invited to the debate stage. But sometimes you have to push the envelope a little bit. Unfortunately this has been true of all their candidates, who you don’t hear a whole lot about despite their good ideas – I’ve voted Libertarian regularly over my lifetime because they present a better alternative to RINO Republicans (or occasionally they are friends of mine.)

On the other hand, DeMatteis seems to be working hard at the race despite a low likelihood of success. She has some interesting and unique proposals, as do others in her IPoD camp. I think the question I have regarding Kathy’s plans – which apparently are spelled out in a book she wrote a few years ago – is why she couldn’t wait to run until she put them into place and succeeded with them? Why is it so important that she get into government to implement her ideas? Donald Trump succeeded in life then ran for President, and we see how that order of achievement worked out well for us.

For these reasons and many more, the best vote for Governor is one for Julianne Murray.

I have not been particularly inspired by the House race this year. It begins with an incumbent whose key reason for being elected in the first place was her gender, race, and the perceived slight of having neither heretofore represent Delaware. Since her election, Lisa Blunt Rochester (or LBR for short) has worked her way leftward on the political spectrum – most recently co-sponsoring a proposal that would serve to eventually eliminate gas-powered cars.

Yet LBR has drawn a motley crew of opponents which included a Republican who was defeated in the 2018 primary by a candidate whose claim to fame was illegally-placed plywood signage, a Libertarian who only recently put up a single-page website as his campaign face, and the IPoD candidate who admits to being an anon in Qanon. Still, I have to vote for someone and it won’t be LBR.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t enamored with Libertarian hopeful David Rogers but I have to hand it to IPoD’s Catherine Stonestreet Purcell for both having the longest name on the ballot and being the most interesting to follow because you really can’t pin her down on left or right. I sometimes wonder if she has a future career as an investigative journalist because she has the perfect undercover job as an Uber driver – she admits to going to places where she feels more likely to pick up well-connected people and just talking to them. Being the (admitted) Qanon participant, she has a deep interest in child trafficking and perhaps the most diverse Facebook friends list in Delaware.

All that is great for human interest, but in the meantime I have to vote for someone. I have to admit I have warmed up a bit to Lee Murphy’s campaign as he has presented a good case for replacing the incumbent to the voters. They should reward Lee Murphy by sending him to Congress.

Last – but certainly not least – is the race for U.S. Senate, preferably to replace the partisan hack Chris Coons, whose campaign has basically been “orange man bad.” With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and subsequent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court we’ve seen this tendency up close and personal.

Again, we have three opponents – although in this case, they are generally of a higher caliber than the House field. The only exception I would take to that is IPoD’s Mark Turley, who really hasn’t been out there and when he is Turley is trying to portray himself as a down-the-middle moderate – one who just happens to make his living in an industry the Senate can really help with ill-advised legislation (renewable energy.)

To be perfectly honest, I was torn in this race. Philosophically I line up best with the Libertarian hopeful Nadine Frost, who is a pro-life Libertarian. (In other words, she gets it.) Yet realistically the one with the best chance for defeating Coons is Republican Lauren Witzke, who has run an uneven campaign filled with landmines of her own making, particularly regarding the passing of the aforementioned RBG. She would be an almost automatic choice except for two places I vehemently disagree with her: one being the idea of incentivizing marriage and family through government policy (as opposed to that of merely not penalizing it) and the other being her stance against right-to-work as some sort of appeal to Big Labor voters – never mind that jobs tend to accrue to right-to-work states when all other conditions are substantially equal. Those are two big strikes against her, and her reaction to RBG’s death was very nearly strike three – somehow she managed to foul it off and stay alive.

Lauren has also managed to do what may be necessary to win and that’s nationalize her race. But then again, so did Christine O’Donnell and – fairly or unfairly – that’s the candidate and race people like to compare this to. This is one of those cases where the head was going one way and the heart the other – until I found the website.

But once I found out Nadine Frost had finally created a website that expanded on the limited information she had come up with earlier, it made my choice easy. If Lauren Witzke can win despite her missteps and big-government populist approach, then more power to her – she will still be a vast improvement over the incumbent.

Voting, however, should come down to who, in your judgement, will do the best job. Because she would be a Senator who thinks almost exactly like I do (right down to some of the phrasing, which makes me wonder if she reads my website), I have to vote for Nadine Frost for Senate. You can blame me if Lauren Witzke loses a close race, but thanks to a few self-inflicted political wounds I honestly don’t think it will come down to that.

So to recap, don’t just vote the straight GOP ticket:

  • U.S. Senator: Nadine Frost (Libertarian)
  • U.S. House: Lee Murphy (Republican)
  • Governor: Julianne Murray (Republican)
  • Lt. Governor: Donyale Hall (Republican)
  • Insurance Commissioner: Dr. Julia Pillsbury (Republican)

I haven’t decided if I’ll do a Presidential endorsement or not. Maybe I’ll make it formal this week, but I have one other race I want to discuss that’s not a Delaware race.

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.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Agriculture/Environment and Transportation

This is the first 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, agriculture/environment is worth 6 points and transportation is worth 7.

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

These will be presented in the order of Republican, Libertarian, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and Democrat, who in all cases are incumbents.

The 2020 Delaware gubernatorial candidates have talked about a lot of stuff, but these are two categories I haven’t been able to find too much on.

Yet the balance between agriculture and environment is an important one for Delaware. Not only is Sussex County #1 in broiler production nationwide (within one mile or so of me there are, by Google Maps and my count, 58 chicken barns) but in the nearly a year I’ve lived out here I’ve seen countless melon buses* and not a few semi-trailers presumably full of watermelons from the packing house down the road, tractors up and down my road at all times of the day and night, and even a cropduster spraying the field across the road from me one Saturday morning. And that doesn’t count the ongoing corn and upcoming soybean harvest that will start in the next few weeks.

On the other hand, there are concerns about the by-products of chickens, a nasty odor I sometimes catch a whiff of coming out the door. And those environmental concerns don’t even cover the beach on the other end of the county. So I would love to know how my candidates will balance these interests.

Those farmers also need methods to get their products to market, and Delaware seems to be lacking in that department. Once you get north of Dover, there are interstate-level highways to take you north and south, but downstate drivers are snagged in a morass of traffic lights and beachbound traffic limping its way down congested Delaware Route 1, U.S. 113, and U.S. 13 toward Ocean City, Salisbury, and points south. (East and west could use some improvement, too, but that’s on Maryland.) These highways need to be addressed, too.

So we will begin with agriculture and the environment, where a couple candidates have made statements. I had to reach back to 2016 to find John Carney’s, though, since he has eschewed an issues page this go-round.

Julianne Murray (R)

If Murray has had something to say about agriculture or the environment, I haven’t found it yet. So no points.

John Machurek (L)

John has the standard libertarian view of allowing the private sector to determine what is best for the environment, which I agree with for the most part. Lacking more details, I will give him 3 points out of 6 for the philosophy.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

Kathy’s platform promises to “Promote farmland preservation, sustainable agriculture, food processing, and related agribusiness vertical integration.” I don’t mind these items, but would certainly love to know the details of government involvement, especially on farmland preservation which I believe should be generational. 1.5 points out of 6.

John Carney (incumbent D)

You would think for a moment that John gets it when he notes farmers are the stewards of the land and was in favor of developing “practical…and effective” policies on agriculture.

But he gave up the game right away when he stated, “John believes one of the most serious threats facing Delaware is that of climate change and sea level rise.” It’s not that serious of a threat and we can’t change the climate anyway. Saying that gives John an automatic 0 points out of 6.

As for transportation, I have a stunning lack of attention to a vital topic, although Republican Julianne Murray recently called for an audit of DelDOT thanks to irregularities in the EZPass system. It’s sort of a peripheral issue, but I will give her 1 point out of 7.

Her IPoD opponent, Kathy DeMatteis, has also acknowledged the need for infrastructure improvement in her platform in a non-specific fashion. So she gets 1 point out of 7 as well.

So early standings are not what you might think: Machurek 3, DeMatteis 2.5, Murray 1, Carney 0.

Nor do I have much to work with on the next category, social issues, but that will be the next installment.

*For those readers outside Slower Lower Delaware, a melon bus is a well-used school bus that has had its back seats, windows, and much of the sides and/or roof removed. They put padding on the floors, remaining side walls, and window sills so the watermelons aren’t damaged in transit, and they fill the entire back of the bus up to the windows with melons – it’s quite a sight. These jalopies come up from Florida (at least that’s where they are tagged) with running school buses which have retained their seats to transport the workers who pick the melons from mid-July to about mid-September.

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.