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: Intangibles

This final part of the dossier series takes a look at other issues that may not be as important to me but still deserve mention. However, I mainly use this part to comment on their campaign and how it’s being conducted. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, intangibles are worth up to 10 points – unlike all other parts, these are additive or subtractive. 

This time around my endorsement will be more of a suggestion, because I am going to set this post up in two tiers of viability and preference, from lower tier to those who deserve a vote in the upper tier.

Labor Day is over, so it’s time to get serious about this political thing.

Out of six candidates running on the GOP side for Delaware governor, there is a two-person lower tier and a four-person upper tier, all of whom make a compelling case to be governor but who also have at least one weakness which may be exploited.

As you might expect, the two on the lowest tier are the two who most qualify as “perennial” candidates. I suppose my biggest complaints about David Graham are the late start he got and the failure to explain why a vote for him this time would be good after he’s been rejected for office several times over the years. His biggest mistake to me was not setting up a website quickly enough. And while he has a few good ideas, it’s a year where he needed a more compelling case to cut through the clutter of five serious candidates.

You’ll notice I said five because I quickly determined R. Scott Walker is not a serious candidate. This is looking beyond the homemade signs strewn across the Delaware landscape and getting into how he presents himself to prospective voters. If he went by his given first name instead of Scott he would have topped out at 2% support in any of his elections given his erratic behavior and temperament, especially on social media. I heard him say in one of his frequent videos that this would be his last run if he lost. I don’t believe him, but let’s hope so and make sure to give him the opportunity to be a man of his word.

So I’ve eliminated two from contention, leaving the four who have ran serious, meaningful campaigns with the capability of ousting an incumbent governor.

I would say that David Bosco is running the most populist, people-based campaign for governor. As an ordinary businessman whose interest in politics seemingly dates back to the date this spring that he decided to run for governor, I’ve found him to be perhaps the most forward in addressing issues via his weekly video updates, which are conducted on social media each Sunday night. It’s through them I have found such insights as the thought that Delaware banks need to step up and help people with delinquent mortgages, employers which hire illegal immigrants should be fined for an initial offense and have business licenses suspended for a repeat, and each county should have its own committee in his administration, among other issues I’ve addressed previously. My only complaint about the videos is that they need to be buttoned up into about a 30-40 minute maximum – some have taken upward of two hours and that’s a lot for people to digest.

Going forward, of course, the question is whether Bosco would have the money to compete should he survive the primary. He’s taken his campaign about as far as a low-budget statewide campaign can go with the resources he has, but there are a lot of voters he needs to reach and only seven weeks to do it once the primary is over. We would have to see how his “smile and dial” approach is.

I’ve been comparing in my mind the campaign of State Senator Colin Bonini this time around to the 2014 campaign in Maryland by Larry Hogan. Hogan’s simplistic mantra was “Change Maryland” while Bonini’s new tagline is “we can fix this.”

The thing that drove me crazy about Hogan’s campaigns is the same thing that irks me about Bonini’s: a lack of specifics which allow me to flesh out his ideas. Unfortunately for him – and fortunately for me – the internet is forever so I went back to Colin’s 2016 campaign to figure out where he stands on several issues. (This is, of course, assuming he’s remained true to the principles he ran on.) My biggest fear, of course, is that the 2016 Bonini that lost begins to believe that he needs to work to the center to govern to win in 2020, when what the state needs is many of the conservative principles he touched upon four years ago. We’ve seen the failure of John Carney up close and personal, and there is strong medicine necessary to fix this. It also means I have to update a few sections using that information.

Republicans will have to ask themselves the question whether they believe a rematch of a 2016 race where Colin lost by 19 points – underperforming President Trump by over 18,000 votes and GOP Congressional nominee Hans Riegle by almost 5,500 – would be winnable this time. The fact that he shunned the state convention at a time when most Republicans were chafing over the shutdown also remains to me a curious move.

Living in his district, I can see there’s a lot to like about State Senator Bryant Richardson. An interesting idea he placed in the hopper is that of the “Health Care Act: A commitment to healthcare, preventive medicine, food education, and activities programs, and in particular making prescriptions accessible and affordable. Health Savings Accounts are a way to provide incentives for people to take care of their health and be rewarded for their efforts to eat right and exercise when advisable.” Not sure just how conservative, limited-government this is, but it is an appropriate task to attempt at a state level.

Out of the four main contenders Bryant is the most socially conservative, which will assist him in that demographic. And like Bonini, he would come with the advantage of knowing the Delaware General Assembly and its players. (Fun fact: if elected, Richardson or Bonini would be the first governor elected directly from the General Assembly since Sherman Tribbitt in 1972 – Tribbitt, however, previously was lieutenant governor before losing re-election.)

However, one thing I have noticed about the campaigns of Richardson (and, to a lesser extent, Bonini) is that they are running their primary campaign a little bit like an expanded Senate campaign, with a budget to match. Granted, both of them seem to have a little bit in personal reserves for a campaign but Bonini was carrying $60,000 in personal debt before and John Carney has six figures of special interest money in the bank.

On the other hand, Julianne Murray has raised the most money and done something insurgent campaigns by outsiders need to do: take steps to nationalize their race. Picking up an endorsement from Newt Gingrich (who is no stranger to the First State) is interesting but if it adds a little jingle to her bank account and a few hundred votes to her column on primary day it will be worth it.

There were a couple intangible items worth mentioning, as I wrote in my notes:

“We need to preserve voter integrity. It is disappointing that Carney signed the vote by mail bill which will jeopardize the integrity of our elections.” She can crucify one of her opponents, Bryant Richardson, for voting yes on that bill (Colin Bonini voted against it in the Senate.)

“Our state government should work with cities to adopt a uniform permitting code for small, ‘neighborhood’ businesses, creating fast-track permitting that allows them to open and grow.” This has peripheral benefit to me if they extend that to building, because Delaware has a ridiculous number of hoops to jump through. We generally count on our few Delaware projects to be bogged down someplace.

Here’s the bottom line on the GOP race as I see it:

If you want the “man of the people” candidate, vote David Bosco.

If you want the guy with the legislative experience who has stopped some bad legislation in its tracks, vote Colin Bonini.

If you want the most all-around conservative candidate, vote Bryant Richardson.

If you want a small business advocate and fighter for Constitutional rights, vote Julianne Murray.

Of all the bad things the pandemic has done, there is a small silver lining: I shudder to think what the primary field would have looked like if John Carney hadn’t failed his state under pressure. Until that chink in his armor appeared, we may have only had the likes of David Graham and R. Scott Walker to consider as token opposition to Carney as he cruised to a second term.

Republicans are now blessed with good choices – any of my top tier would be a better governor than the incumbent. It doesn’t matter because I don’t have a vote, but I think I would go with Bryant Richardson despite his age and a lack of statewide name recognition. He has an all-around agenda I think is the best for Delaware.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Role of Government

This is the eighth, penultimate 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, the role of government is worth 14 points. 

I have decided to tackle the candidates in order for this part, which will lean heavily on my interpretation of previous parts.

For Colin Bonini, his approach seems to be embodied in his campaign slogan, “We Can Fix This.” To him, government seems to have a series of wrong roles, including that of the nanny state. He’s proud of his usual stance against the state’s budget, which makes me wonder how he would do his own if given the chance. (It’s a government he called “expensive…and inefficient” four years ago, so I doubt it’s any better.) He also adds, “Every citizen of Delaware has the right to feel safe in their homes and community. Calls to eliminate or completely defund the police are utterly irresponsible. Colin is a proud supporter of our first responders.”

It’s been the hallmark of his campaign: more or less a platitude which makes you believe he cares. But this treads into intangibles, so I’ll reserve my time on that discussion.

I’ll close his section by noting that sentiment is particularly true when you go back to his 2016 campaign and find him saying, “Colin believes that our right to live with liberty and freedom should be upheld and vigorously defended.  However, with freedom comes responsibility.  Government should not be responsible for saving individuals from every unwise decision they make.  Instead, we should enact policies that encourage personal initiative and responsibility, while discouraging government dependency.”

Why be too ashamed to say that four years later? (Since I dredged up his archives, I also need to update parts of this dossier, which I will do this weekend.)

David Bosco wants you to know where he’s coming from. “New Castle does have the majority of Democrats, and these Democrats, most of them are scared right now, when you had the looting and rioting going on in Wilmington. I have talked to so many people, so many citizens in the city of Wilmington, that flat out said, ‘We didn’t know what to do.’ The government is there to protect them, and they weren’t protected, and had to lock themselves in their homes, and people were running rampant. I want to make sure that those people never go through that again…I’m hoping that the people realize that I understand it. I get out there, I talk to the people as much as possible. I talk to business owners. I try to spend a lot of time in New Castle, it’s where I’m from, so I don’t want to lose that. And I’m hoping that that helps my campaign, for people to see that, ‘Hey, even though he lives down in Sussex, he hasn’t forgotten about us.’ Because I don’t want New Castle to be forgotten about.”

I don’t want to be forgotten about in Sussex, either.

“It’s the government’s job to protect the people,” he later said. “If the police are outmanned, we have the National Guard. Looting and rioting equals domestic terrorism.” We have the hardliner who then made the case that we have plenty of revenue but that, “As your Republican Governor I want to make sure we keep our banks focused on helping all those people effected by the COVID crisis. I want to make sure Credit Unions and Banks work with people who need help at the end of the mortgage forbearance terms. Foreclosures and business loss is not what our state needs.”

What does our state need? I’m not sure David has quite figured out the role of government here. Perhaps he’s making it a touch overprotective?

There are two statements from David Graham I want to highlight: First, he wants to, “Implement a zero-base state budgeting process to curb the runaway growth in the cost of Delaware’s government.” That, to me, may be one of his best ideas. But then there is this:

“The governor of Delaware is elected to serve all the citizens of Delaware. Therefore, there is a most serious duty to work, as much as possible, with whoever is sent to our State Legislature by their constituents. A Republican governor also serves the important role of gatekeeper to stop extremely liberal legislation, and conversely, extremely conservative legislation, detrimental to the Constitutional rights and general welfare of our citizens from being signed into law.”

In this state there is no such thing as “extremely conservative legislation” that is “detrimental to the Constitutional rights” of the citizens. The most conservative thing we can do – at least in the short term – is simply repeal the liberal nonsense that has passed over the last twenty sessions. Once that’s successful then we can really crank up the liberty – I’m just not sure any of it happens with Graham at the helm.

“What finally made me decide to run were the nanny state regulations involving Delawareans’ exercise of Constitutionally-protected rights,” said Julianne Murray. And where was she the last fifty years? I guess it’s a case of better late than never. “COVID-19 has shown that the government can and will take away freedoms from Delawareans in an unconstitutional manner,” she continues.  “We must address this so that future Governors have checks on their power.”

The question is who will have the check? I don’t know if we can trust the Delaware General Assembly as currently comprised. I’m actually afraid, absent a GOP majority in the DGA, that she will find out just how hamstrung she really is. Do you think they would have let a Governor Colin Bonini get away with anything he proposed in 2016?

Bryant Richardson chides Murray about filing suit to restore rights, pointing out,”Governor John Carney has overstepped his authority in issuing orders that restrict activities of some businesses while allowing others to stay open and he even ordered churches to close.

In opposition, I joined state Rep. Rich Collins in sponsoring a bill to rein in the power of any governor in the event of other such emergencies.

House Bill 330 would change the law to limit the Governor’s authority to continue a state of emergency. It would also require the Governor to get the approval of the General Assembly before extending a state of emergency.”

But like I said, that check and balance went exactly nowhere in the Delaware General Assembly because we’re saddled with a governmental trifecta from the party which most craves power. Simply put, they don’t care.

However, I do like this point Richardson makes:

“We became the greatest nation on earth because of individual initiative, not by allowing the government to control us. If we recapture that spirit and allow God to lead us, we can once again restore our state and nation.” My friend, I am all about revival and I pray regularly for it.

And then we have R. Scott Walker, whose idea of the role of government is a complete mystery to me. He’s libertarian enough to support legalizing marijuana, yet authoritarian enough to demand we adopt online education. He obviously doesn’t believe in following rules because he illegally places signs, but on the other hand he claims he’s beholden to no one because he doesn’t take donations. He definitely does not have a filter and can’t even stay in one party for long.

Yet he is on the ballot and some number of people will vote for him, perhaps persuaded he’s the Scott Walker who was governor of Wisconsin. (Hence the R. Scott Walker; he also gives me a task of straightening out several posts which are tagged Scott Walker and refer to the Delaware guy.)

That, then, is my impression of how each candidate sees the role of government. I’m finally going to pick a recommendation (or maybe two) for the GOP nod when I look at intangibles in the last part. I’m shooting for posting it Monday night (and indeed I made my self-imposed deadline.)

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Taxation

This is the seventh 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, taxation is worth 13 points. These will once again be presented in a randomized order.

As I am starting off with the Republican contenders, one would imagine they are in favor of lowering taxes. But surprisingly not all have brought up the issue, and they are addressing several ways to lower the burden.

I suspect this will be one of the more actively updated posts as time goes on.

David Graham: The lack of specifics to Graham’s platform extends to this topic.

David Bosco: I pointed out yesterday that Bosco is only willing to use tax breaks as a draw for business under restrictive stipulations, so that leads me to believe we may have a governor who doesn’t mind using tax code to shape behavior. That’s bad news, and I hope my assertion is incorrect.

But he does like to point out that Delaware doesn’t have a revenue problem, but a spending problem.

Scott Walker: By going to all online schools, Walker is vowing to cut property taxes in half. That’s all well and good, but first of all schools aren’t going all online anytime soon and secondly, we also have to worry about the push to update assessments via the courts, which would likely wipe out any gains from Walker’s idea.

Colin Bonini: While he’s terribly less than specific about details, he notes, “Remember earlier this year when Democrats wanted a statewide property tax? Colin Bonini… has a history of fighting new taxes, no matter how they are disguised.” I’ve already brought up two issues he really should address to win my vote.

Julianne Murray: Unlike her entire bill of rights devoted to small business, Murray has platitude-speak down when she says she will, “Cut taxes and regulations. Nothing hurts job growth like higher taxes and endless regulations. As our next Governor, Julianne Murray will lower the tax burden and streamline regulations to encourage entrepreneurship.” Well, you can’t lower the sales tax but I’ll bet there are some business taxes they’d like repealed.

Bryant Richardson: Bryant has sort of a generic promise to keep taxes low, and surprisingly he did not make this subject part of his Contract for a New Delaware. I’m sure he has thoughts on the subjects I’ve brought up as well as others I’m getting to.

One measuring stick I use to compare tax burden between states comes from the Tax Foundation, which annually ranks the states on how much of a toll they take from the general public. Delaware just misses the top 10 overall, but it is a schizophrenic ranking because it rates high in some categories (led by the lack of a sales tax and low property taxes) but scrapes the bottom in two key measures: individual income tax and corporate tax, where it ranks dead last at #50. So those two categories need reform, keeping in mind the ideals of a fairer, flatter tax system that’s not used to reward or punish behavior or property ownership.

Address these and it goes a long way in securing my endorsement. My final two categories await, with the role of government as I perceive each candidate adopting it coming up next.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Job Creation

This is the sixth 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, job creation is worth 12 points. These will once again be presented in a randomized order.

Over the last few months I’ve become a subscriber to the e-mails emanating from a group called A Better Delaware. It’s a group which believes we need to improve our economy by streamlining government and eliminating regulations, pointing out that our economic indicators lag among states. It’s become even worse now because growth is probably not an option in 2020 thanks to the incumbent governor’s handling of the pandemic.

To various extents, all of these candidates agree we should open up the state. But it’s also revealing to learn their philosophy for business and economic growth, and that’s what this installment of the dossier is all about.

David Bosco: In listening to his weekly podcasts, I have found that Bosco is putting a lot of emphasis on small business. (As of this writing he is up to #13, I have caught the first 7. They last generally about an hour.) To get businesses back on their feet, David proposes interest-free loans, while dropping the additional $600 (at the time) stipend on unemployment. If elected governor, the state will tell small businesses and entrepreneurs “how can we help you?”

In reading through social media, however, I have one bone to pick with Bosco as he seems to come down too strongly on the anti-development side. Perhaps I’m biased thanks to my line of work, but I will forever contend that if an area doesn’t grow, it eventually dies.

As proof of his stance, I recently came across this statement, “As your Republican Governor I want to offer tax breaks only if stipulations are followed by the big business. They must have (for example) 75% of the work force must be a Delaware resident. Tax breaks should be per year and not all up front. They need to use in state construction and suppliers to build and start the business. I am not one for big business in Delaware. We have seen what happens when they up and leave. Look at Dupont. Look at General Motors. Look at Chrysler. Look at MBNA. The list goes on. I say let’s give breaks to the people here in Delaware. Help grow small business. Help start small business. Let’s make the road blocks for small business go away.”

R. Scott Walker: I sometimes think his idea for job creation comes in supporting the people who make the plastic and paint he uses for his handmade signs. Still looking into him.

Bryant Richardson: Bryant touts what he calls the “Job Creation and Small Business Support Act,”describing it as, “A commitment to job creation and a free market economy.”

He adds: “On my business card are these words: ‘We became the greatest nation on earth because of individual initiative, not by allowing the government to control us. If we recapture that spirit and allow God to lead us, we can once again restore our state and nation.’”

Bryant also calls for supporting small business incentives and training programs that help businesses fill job openings with qualified candidates, as well as a one-stop agency that helps them with start-ups and expansions.

David Graham: Graham’s campaign hasn’t been specific about this topic.

Colin Bonini: Colin adds a touch of context, although he’s not very specific.

“The key to restoring the health of our economy and bringing real opportunity to all our citizens lies with reversing the decades old policies of overtaxing, overspending, and over-regulating in this state. We are all too familiar with how these issues have been compounded over the last several months, but these policies were failing us long before the pandemic.

I would make sure I have private sector people around me, unlike the current administration.” That would be a step in the right direction.

Julianne Murray: The bread and butter of her campaign is the topic of job creation. Rather than cite her platform chapter and verse, I’ll simply inform readers she has put together what she calls a “Small Business Bill of Rights.”

Because we already have a Bill of Rights in the Constitution, I’m leery about anything else called a bill of rights, particularly in this case as they are granted by government and not inalienable. It’s more of a particular set of policy priorities, many of which make good sense, given a catchy name. Based on that I don’t see Murray as quite the small business zealot that Bosco is, which is good, but it remains to be seen how balanced of an approach she will take if someone like a Big Three automaker or large manufacturer sees an opportunity in Delaware.

All I know is that this is a group of people who want the working folks of Delaware to prosper. (One thing I’ve not seen touched upon, though, is right-to-work legislation.) Once we get the prosperity my next category asks if they’ll get to keep it as I talk taxation… if the candidates are willing to volunteer their plans, that is.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Second Amendment

This is the fifth 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, Second Amendment issues are worth 11 points. These will once again be presented in a randomized order.

It’s an event I may revisit in due course down the road, but over the weekend I was at a local gun club for its family day. And one thing I quickly learned was that it was a place with hot and cold running politicians – no surprise with a primary coming up.

While there were a few local politicians of note – oddly enough, I realized who some were by the legislative plate on their cars – it turned out via happy accident I was due for this part of the dossier. (My wife told me about this event Saturday morning so we squeezed in a little free shooting before heading up to see her family.) So for the purposes of this section of the dossier I’m adding bonus content.

My disclaimer: I wasn’t there for the entire event so some of these candidates may have circulated there prior to our arrival – for example, I saw U.S. Senate candidate Jim DeMartino working his way out as we were walking in.

Most candidates on the GOP side are quite willing to explain their 2A bonafides, so this is a lively category.

Julianne Murray: Of all the gubernatorial candidates, Julianne had the most formal setup and was engaging with voters, including me:

Yet our brief conversation didn’t touch on 2A issues – heck, I was impressed enough that she knew of this website.

The meat of what she states about the topic can be summarized this way: “Julie knows that limiting our Second Amendment rights does not translate into tough-on-crime measures. It doesn’t make anyone safer. It only punishes law-abiding citizens. Like you, Julie worries about the violence in our communities. She wants safe streets and safe gathering places for our friends and family. Julie will look beyond the rhetoric to find the real source of the problem and find solutions that do not infringe our rights. By addressing the true problem, we will be taking the politics out of the issue. Unfortunately, our Governor and the media like to perpetuate misinformation and dangerous rhetoric in order to push an unconstitutional agenda that threatens the rights of law abiding citizens. As Governor, Julie will defend the rights of our law abiding citizens, hold law breakers accountable and support our first responders.”

This is intriguing to me on two levels. I notice the way she states the proposition gives her a little bit of wiggle room, but, more importantly, there’s the phrase, “the real source of the problem.” I can’t fathom if she doesn’t agree with the adage “an armed society is a polite society” or if she really wants to begin a one-woman, one-state war on the cultural rot and lack of respect for life that may well be a root cause of gun violence. Moreover, if we don’t have a tyrannical, overreaching government, the need for Second Amendment protection on that front abates. That’s why I find this interesting. I have yet to listen to a three-hour (!) podcast with Murray so I hope to get more answers there.

David Graham: Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything relevant on Graham’s 2A stance and don’t believe he was at the event to ask.

R. Scott Walker: I haven’t come across his Second Amendment stance yet, which is really a shame because there could be a bit of gold among all the dross. I’m not holding my breath, but stranger things have happened like him winning a primary. (Speaking of which, the other statewide politician I finally met there at the open house was Lee Murphy.)

Bryant Richardson: As comprehensive as Bryant’s site is, I honestly thought there would be more than, “Law-abiding citizens have a right to protection. ‘Shall not be infringed’ means just that.” (I managed to find that on social media.) He also deserves props for being at the event although I didn’t get the opportunity to speak with him (and introduce myself as a constituent of his.) When I wasn’t waiting my turn to fire a weapon I saw Bryant talking a lot to a person I’m presuming by the shirt he had on to be fellow Senator Dave Lawson.

Colin Bonini: I did not see Senator Bonini there; however, I will remind you again that I didn’t stay the whole time. He did, however, have a table there with a volunteer handing out palm cards touting Bonini’s A+ rating from the NRA. It adds, “Colin is responsible for blocking the so-called ‘assault rifle’ ban from getting out of committee, and has always voted in favor of protecting our constitutional rights.” That legislative effort is a good start, but can we assume he will work to reverse the excesses already in the laws? (Bear in mind Bonini is a former monoblogue Legislator of the Year in Delaware based on his voting record, while Richardson has been a Legislative All-Star. Overall, Bonini’s lifetime score ranks first in the Senate while Richardson is third.)

David Bosco: Again with my disclaimer, but once I saw the extent of political involvement at the event I was surprised Bosco wasn’t there considering it was practically in his backyard. David has a very proactive 2A stance, railing against gun-free zones and red flag laws while openly admitting his belief that everyone should have a gun.

His most intriguing proposal: “I believe that the state should be able to put a program together, where if you, as a regular person, walks into a gun store, says ‘I’ve never owned a gun before and I want to buy one because I don’t feel safe,’ I would like to put a program together that the state of Delaware could give that person a card that has names of businesses on them, or consultants, where they can go and -for free – learn how to use, store, clean, and basically utilize that handgun as a safety factor. We need to educate those people.”

Essentially I read this as an interesting idea, although those people who have the side hustle of training people for their handgun license may object.

I believe any of these Republicans (except Walker and perhaps Graham) would be a vast improvement on the current administration in Dover insofar as 2A issues are concerned. By the same token, I don’t need to hustle to find more from the candidates on the next subject, which will be job creation.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Education

This is the fourth 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, education is worth 10 points. These will once again be presented in a randomized order.

If there is a topic of importance to all the candidates running for the state’s highest office, it’s education. Some spend more time on it than others, but they generally have something to say.

David Bosco: A good summary of Bosco’s views is that he places content over high testing scores. “We need to let teachers teach and allow children to learn,” he’s said as he checks off a number of reform-minded boxes in the areas of eliminating Common Core and teaching life skills. I think Bosco has the curriculum side down but I’d be curious to know how he would address the funding side of things.

Colin Bonini: In his general theme of “we can fix this” I haven’t seen a lot of specifics on how he would address education.

Bryant Richardson: Bryant touts what he calls the Education Responsibility Act, which he describes as,”A commitment to protect the future of our children, by designing an educational system and curriculum that is focused on the highest quality of education for all Delaware children. This includes support for students and their families through Education Empowerment Accounts. Teachers who display proficiency in helping children learn and overcome problems should be paid well for this exceptional talent.”

Richardson adds that, “our tax laws must allow parents the freedom to choose without penalty where their children learn, in public, private or home school environments.” This is going to be one where the devil is in the details, because it’s a sure bet Big Education isn’t going to like that. As a philosophy, though, it may be about as much of a first step as we can take right now toward “money follows the child.”

R. Scott Walker: In his rambling conversations on the road I have so far gleaned that Scott is a firm believer in online education, which will be “safer.” Teachers that can adapt to this will be successful, while stipends will be created for stay-at-home parents.

I suppose this stipend money comes from the savings of not having to maintain school buildings and the humongous tax dollars we’ll rake in from legalizing pot. </sarc>

Julianne Murray: Aside from remarking, “We need to be teaching our children HOW to think – not WHAT to think,” I have yet to find a more broad-based educational platform on Julianne yet.

David Graham: I’ve found even less on Graham, whose quiet entry into the race and slow preparation of a website have handicapped him with issue-minded voters like me.

Because it is a small state, Delaware could be a model for the rest of the country if we do things correctly. It’s easier to turn around a canoe than a battleship, and I think the best way of turning it around is through school choice as money follows the child. Public schools could still exist and they could continue to give a less and less thorough education on traditional subjects as they emphasize what is allowable under “cancel culture,” but they will do so to emptier and emptier classrooms. Finally they will get the point.

Parents used to scrimp and save to be able to afford a house in a desirable school district. Thirty years ago, we did just that and made it by about five blocks into a nice neighborhood elementary school that fed into one of the two most desired high schools in the Toledo Public Schools district. But we can go way beyond that and allow people trapped by economics in poorer zip codes to more easily find a way to give their kids the education they need. The right governor can make that a reality if he or she is willing to try.

Next up will be a special segment of the dossier as I discuss the Second Amendment.

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.