A way to build Delaware manufacturing

I kept this article around for a potential upcoming “odds and ends” post, but the more I thought about it the more I believed it was enough for a standalone article. It’s a couple weeks old but certainly evergreen enough to be a timely piece.

Charlie Copeland, who used to be the Senate Minority Leader in Delaware once upon a time, is now the co-director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending. (Yes, that’s a mouthful – so we’ll call it CADEGS.) So the CADEGS head wrote a post on the blog of the Caesar Rodney Institute that told me two things, one of which I knew and one I did not: number one, the one I knew, is that Delaware got a crapton of $ from the federal government thanks to Uncle Sam’s CCP virus spending spree – so much so that it’s remarkably not all been spent. But number two, which is the one I did not know, is that “Northern Delaware has over half a dozen former industrial sites waiting to be cleaned up and waiting for infrastructure upgrades.”

How does Charlie put one and one together? He adds, “By making a one-time investment from one-time federal funds into these sites, Delaware can create a magnet for private sector business investments in these locations. Imagine close to a dozen industrial sites ready for new, clean American manufacturing.” And this makes sense, since presumably these sites either already had the infrastructure needed onsite or it was there but needed a little updating and TLC. After all, if the company I work for can update a forty-odd year-old restaurant that had no grease interceptor (meaning it was dumping grease right into the system) I suspect piping at these sites which dates from the 1940s or 1950s can be replaced.

But the second part of Copeland’s wish list is just as important.

This true infrastructure investment would be a good start, and the next step will not cost any money. Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments. This requirement was made clear in a 2019 report released by the Delaware Business Roundtable on Delaware’s job-killing permitting process. 

As stated in the report, “The permitting process plays an important role within the site selection process. Site selectors and investors often view the process as a barometer for measuring how business-friendly or supportive a state or local community is to economic development and new investment.” And Delaware is viewed as unfriendly. As a matter of fact, one national manufacturing site selection expert stated that “Delaware is not on anyone’s list.” 

Adjacent states can often complete site and business permitting in six months. In Delaware, it can take as long as two years. Job creators have options, and they are opting to go to other states where they can get their businesses operating in one-quarter of the time than it takes in Delaware. The proof of Delaware’s failure is in the continued decline in our manufacturing employment, while nationally, manufacturing has been growing as the US continues to on-shore production from China.

Charlie Copeland, “Delaware Manufacturing Job Growth Opportunity“, Caesar Rodney Institute, June 30, 2021.

Having dealt with the First State for a few commercial projects, let me restate louder for those in the back, “Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments.” For example, we spent a ridiculous amount of time dealing with site improvements for a project on a rural corner that didn’t even see 1,000 cars a day and might only gain 50-100 because of the development. Business people who have borrowed thousands to make their dream a reality don’t want to wait an extra three months to open because state and county agencies can’t get their sh*t together.

What Charlie suggests is that the “site and business permitting process could be quickly streamlined by reassigning a few State employees into ‘permitting-process concierges’ who would keep track of the status of major projects (e.g., over $5 million in investment). At the same time, the State should create a government website ‘dashboard’ giving the status of all aspects of investments in the permitting process detailing when permits were submitted, the amount of time waiting for initial comments, and what agency is currently holding a permit (and for how long). These two steps – the concierge and the dashboard – would bring transparency and accountability to a very diffuse process.”

In other words, do what certain private-sector businesses do with high-profile clients who generally receive just one point of contact. That’s not to say that smaller guys should get a runaround, but if the red tape is pushed aside for the big guys, maybe that learning curve is made easier for the small fries.

I will say, though, that Copeland was thinking mostly about the northern part of the state. I would be curious to know if this same principle could apply to whatever portions of the old DuPont facility in Seaford remain unused now that Amazon has made plans to use part of it for a regional hub. Regardless, if gaining jobs in the Wilmington/NCC area makes them just that much more prosperous, then the burden on Sussex County taxpayers should be lightened too. As it is said, a rising tide lifts all boats – and this state could use a lift.

An upcoming discussion on Critical Race Theory

First of all, my post isn’t really intended to be the discussion, although it may end up being so. I’m just passing the word along!

Anyway, every so often I get something of great interest from my longtime fan and friend Melody Clarke (back in her local radio and officeseeking days she was known as Melody Scalley, so Melody’s name may ring a bell with longtime readers – and the pun wasn’t intended.) Melody has been with the Heritage Foundation for awhile now as a Regional Coordinator, and her region includes ours.

In this case, she is announcing that the Heritage Foundation is putting together an intriguing panel event to be held right here locally in at the Crossroad Community Church just west of Georgetown (it’s right off Route 404.) I’m going to let her announcement take over from here before I jump back in:

Please plan to join us for a special event about critical race theory. This will be a panel discussion giving you the opportunity to hear from individuals with special knowledge across a broad spectrum on this issue. We hope you will attend in person, but there will also be an opportunity to join the event by livestream. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask panel members your questions about critical race theory. We want you to fully understand this ideology and the damaging impact it is having across all aspects of our culture and American way of life.

What is Critical Race Theory?

When: Thurs. July 29, 2021 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Where: Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Rd, Georgetown, DE 19947

Panel Discussion: Hear from dynamic speakers on the roots of critical race theory and how to identify it, as well as how it is infiltrating our schools, workplaces, and the military. Panelists will also be equipping attendees with action items for what you can do to stop it from dividing our children, families and nation.

Panel Moderator: Melody Clarke, Sr. Regional Coordinator, Heritage Action

Mike Gonzalez, Senior Fellow, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy and Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

Xi Van Fleet, A Chinese immigrant who has never before been involved politically. Compelled by her own experience in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, she has committed herself to warn the American people of the danger of Cultural Marxism and to help them to clearly see what is really happening in America.

Jonathan Butcher, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation.

Shawntel Cooper, Parent, Fight for Schools, Loving, dedicated wife, mother, (mommabear), who doesn’t conform to the popular opinion just because it’s the popular opinion.

Joe Mobley, Parent, Fight for Schools. He is host of the Joe Mobley Show and a disabled US Army veteran. Joe’s experience is exceptionally diverse and includes time in the military, law enforcement, church staff, and as a professional musician. He currently consults with one of the world’s largest and most influential firms.

Jeremy C. Hunt, writer, commentator and current student at Yale Law School. After graduating from West Point, he served on active duty as a U.S. Army Captain. Jeremy appears regularly on Fox News.

Stephanie Holmes, an experienced labor and employment professional and lawyer. Her legal career started at a large, international law firm where she represented employers in a wide variety of labor and employment matters, ranging from single plaintiff to complex class action cases. She then worked as in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 company.

Heritage Foundation announcement of the event.

This definitely sounds like it’s worth my time, and as an added bonus for me the Shorebirds are on the road that night so I’m not missing a home game!

CRT, and its cousin Action Civics, are topics I’ve visited recently on The Patriot Post, and – let’s channel Captain Obvious here – these are contentious subjects. Parents who oppose CRT in Delaware already have to gear up for a fight in their local districts, which will be mandated by the state in 2022-23 to teach public and charter school students about black history. And schools won’t necessarily be able to select criteria parents may deem appropriate, to wit:

The Department of Education shall develop and make publicly available a list of resources to assist a school district or charter school in creating Black History curricula. The Department shall consult with organizations that provide education about the experiences of Black people, or seek to promote racial empowerment and social justice.

House Bill 198 as passed, Delaware General Assembly, 151st Session.

Among these organizations being consulted are the NAACP, Africana Studies programs at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University (as well as their respective Black Student Coalitions), the Delaware Heritage Commission, and the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. I would hazard to guess this will be a stacked deck in favor of emphasizing “restorative justice.”

It’s also worth pointing out that we have racists in our midst – well, at least that’s what they will be called by the other side because they properly voted against this mess. In the House that list includes Representatives Rich Collins, Tim Dukes, Ronald Gray, Shannon Morris, Charles Postles, Jesse Vanderwende, and Lyndon Yearick, and among Senators the five were Gerald Hocker, Dave Lawson, Brian Pettyjohn, Bryant Richardson, and Dave Wilson. So the concerned parents do have allies.

Having said that, I think there’s certainly a place for black history in the schools – however, it should be taught from the perspective that it’s our shared history, whether black, white, brown, yellow, or red. When it comes to blacks, we are a nation which has evolved from keeping blacks in slavery and treating them as three-fifths of a person (who couldn’t vote anyway) to having blacks in all walks of life, including the offspring of black fathers elected as President and as Vice President within the last 15 years with the support of millions of black voters. (Not to mention numerous other elected and unelected government officials, sports figures, and CEOs of major corporations.) I’m not going to lie to you and say it was an easy or straight path toward a colorblind society, but I would argue that, until we made a big deal of race in the last decade or so, we were raising the most colorblind generation that we had known in the Millennials – unfortunately, Generation Z has the serious potential to backslide in that regard thanks to misplaced white guilt, due in no small part to the effects this “1619 Project” style of teaching history have already had on us regarding events which occurred over a century ago.

Acknowledging that history and attempting to learn lessons from it is one thing, but believing that past discrimination justifies future discrimination is quite another, and it’s wrong. I encourage my readers to attend this seminar if they can, or just watch it to see what the race hustlers are up to now.

monoblogue Accountability Project: the 2021 Interim Report

I’m sure most of my longtime readers know that, for many years, I have embarked on what I call the monoblogue Accountability Project: grading state legislators on votes they made through my “barely left of militia” lens that has a decided libertarian and Constitutionalist sheen to it. (If you don’t believe me, just look on the right sidebar under the Amazon ad for my latest book. And that doesn’t show the decade-plus I did one for Maryland when I lived there.)

When I began the Delaware edition back in 2016 because I was working in the state at the time, I realized that it often takes two years (in other words, the full session) to acquire a baseline of 25 good, contested votes by which to grade the legislators. In 2019 I had an issue like I have this year, with a number of votes that would likely make the cut but, because the session is so long, no promise that I will have the same next year – especially in a year where all 62 members are on the ballot due to redistricting (which, in turn, will likely bring its own vote to be scored in the special session upcoming this fall.) I tried to do a 2019 report but found out in 2020 – perhaps thanks to the pandemic – that doing 2020 as a stand-alone session wouldn’t have provided nearly enough votes to consider. (In that case, I appended the 2019 report into a 2019-20 report and dropped four 2019 votes from the package.)

So this year I’m going to try a streamlined, stripped-down approach. At this point I have 26 votes to consider. As part of my long Independence Day weekend I did the research and compiled the chart I’ll need next year to do the full report, but for this interim report decided to grade legislators on a strict votes correct vs. votes incorrect basis, ignoring factors I use in the formal mAP such as absences and ducking votes. Instead, this relatively simple chart will have a ranking by percentage basis of all 62 members regardless of chamber.

The reason I’m doing it this way is that there’s no guarantee I’ll use a particular vote next year – there are a few that I suspect won’t make the cut but fill out the roster of 25 for now. One of them will be out for (almost) sure because I have 26 votes graded. (The caveat is that the 2022 session is so ambitious and contentious that I get 24 more votes to make it an even 50.) Just a sampling of the issues I dealt with this time: minimum wage, automatic voter registration, the renewable energy portfolio, educational issues such as school board terms and what amounts to a month of Critical Race Theory education, further plastic bag bans, the usual plethora of gun restrictions, and a George Floyd bill to handicap the police a little more. It’s sad just how many legislators got a big fat zero percent here.

It didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it because it’s an image file, but you get the idea.

Those of you who live in the districts with Republicans may want to consider goading your representatives to do a little better. Those who have Democrats – and I know there are some districts where the Democrat primary is the decider because Republicans are outnumbered like Custer at his last stand – need to find candidates more toward the Ennis side, because the 0% side is constantly looking for Democrats to knock the centrists off.

And another point: I don’t like RINOs any more than you do, but sometimes they serve a purpose. In 2020 the GOP lost two Senators in Cathy Cloutier and Anthony Delcollo, representing Districts 5 and 7, respectively. Their lifetime mAP ratings were 5 and 11, respectively. However, they were replaced by Kyle Evans Gay and Spiros Mantzavinos, who collectively batted 0-for-52 this year. All they had to do was get three votes right to match the average of my worst RINOs but they couldn’t even do that.

As for the rest of the 0% side and my earlier point about Democrat centrists, there were a few ousted in the 2020 primary and in each case things got worse. David McBride’s lifetime 10 rating became Marie Pinkney’s 0%, Raymond Siegfried’s 16 rating in his brief tenure became Larry Lambert’s 0%, John Viola’s 9% lifetime score became Madinah Wilson-Anton’s 3.8% this year, and Earl Jaques’ 11% became Eric Morrison’s 3.8% this time around.

So I’m bringing this information in the hopes that 2022 brings the counter-trend at a time when Delaware needs it more than ever. We may be stuck with two more years of Governor Carnage and gerrymandered districts that will probably shortchange Sussex County somehow, but getting better candidates in all parties can thwart those statist schemes.

A whimper rather than a bang

For many years I made a lot of hay out of the fact that the Maryland General Assembly session is prescribed to last just 90 days, a time period I dubbed the “90 Days of Terror.” On the other hand, while Delaware does not have a full-time legislature, the relaxed and less frenetic pace of the deliberations (which only just concluded Wednesday after starting in mid-January) makes for a General Assembly that comparatively out of sight and out of mind – so much so that I found doing an annual monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware doesn’t work.

Perhaps the extended time period leads to more congeniality. By my (admittedly rather quick) count, just 152 of 917 House and Senate votes in this portion of the two-year General Assembly term were contested. Looking through the vote tallies only, you find a lot of 21-0 and 41-0 totals, along with a growing number of votes that are blank because they were passed by a voice vote. (No one records if these votes were unanimous or who would have spoken out in opposition, and I suppose those in charge like it that way.)

And instead of being pushed into overtime by a need to pass a budget, this year’s session ended several hours early as the last recorded vote came sometime after 4 p.m. on June 30. All in all, it was a rather uninspiring session when it comes to accountability.

You may have noted that I stated the Accountability Project has to be semi-annual in Delaware, and here’s why. Because I prefer that votes be contested for the mAP, I begin with a base of 152 votes. Now you would think it would be easy to pick out 25 votes, but remember this covers both House and Senate so in reality I need 50 votes.

I start with 152, but the number dramatically drops because one chamber or the other (usually the Senate) has a unanimous vote and I want contested votes in both chambers. The other limiting factor is that many of these votes are on amendments that are only voted for on one side. I used to have a few of these votes in Maryland during the early days of the mAP, but I eventually streamlined the process.

What I think I will do in the coming weeks, though, is provide an interim report that simply tallies up the right and wrong votes of the legislator as a percentage of the bills that came up this year, without a great deal of further explanation that I use to build out my Accountability Project report. It’s actually rather easy to do and can be the beginning of putting together the 2021-22 mAP for Delaware.

And while I’m on the subject of future posts, methinks it’s time to revisit something else I used to do on a regular basis thanks to a chance encounter with one of those involved. Maybe I’ll work on it over this long holiday weekend. So besides that and the upcoming Shorebirds of the Month for June I will begin writing a bit in this venue. I’m looking forward to it.

If at first you don’t succeed, run, run again

Apparently it’s tough being a Republican in Delaware, because it’s not easy to find good candidates who want to spend months on the road all over the state only to lose by 20 points, give or take, on Election Day. Last year that was the fate of every statewide candidate the GOP put up, although three of the six (including Donald Trump) won the machine voting only to be swamped by the mail-in ballots.

Aside from LG candidate Donyale Hall, the other winner of machine votes was Lee Murphy. Of the sextet, Murphy came the closest to winning – that is, if you consider 17.41% close. (Lauren Witzke had the largest margin of defeat at 21.54%, which tells me people voted pretty much straight ticket. Even the Delaware House and Senate results fairly resembled that 60-40 ratio.)

He’s trying it again. The question is who will go with him.

Given that modest success – and the fact that 2022 will be a midterm election and won’t have Joe Biden on the ballot – Lee Murphy announced today on social media that he is giving a Congressional run yet another go. It will be his third straight Congressional run, having lost in the 2018 GOP primary to Scott Walker before winning the Republican vote over Matthew Morris last year. (Morris has since moved out of state, likely eliminating a second try for him unless he gets homesick.)

It’s hard to believe we are a little over 16 months away from the 2022 midterms, but no one knows what the state of the nation and electorate will be. Obviously any Republican in Delaware has an uphill battle, and surely Murphy knows that. But will voters clamor for a guy who’s become something of a perennial candidate since he’s basically run continuously for the last four-plus years and has already lost one race to the incumbent?

Because there is no Senate race and the only other statewide elections are for the more minor positions in state government – not saying AG and Treasurer are unimportant, but they aren’t a gubernatorial race – the House race may be the highest profile contest this time around for the first time in a long time. The last time this confluence of events occurred was 1998, since 2016 and 2004 were gubernatorial elections and in 2010 there was a special election for the Senate. (We all know what happened on that one. By the way, in 1998 the GOP won all three positions up for grabs, telling me that the DEGOP has changed for the worse.) So it would seem to me we would get more of an All-Star cast for the election, except that no one will be running from cover this time around because all 62 General Assembly districts will be new and no one will get a pass.

No disrespect to Lee Murphy, but here’s hoping he’s not the only one eyeing the seat. The Republicans have some good candidates (like the aforementioned Donyale Hall) who I think may give LBR more of the challenge she deserves for running solely on the basis of her melanin content and gender.

How to really Fix Our Senate

If you know me, you know I’m not much of a TV watcher. But for whatever reason we had our local news on and it morphed into the network news, then back to local news and various other programming that became sort of background noise.

But I noticed a political-style commercial that’s gotten some rotation, and once I saw it for the third time in two hours I decided to dig just a little bit. Turns out it’s a coalition of radical left-wing groups who believe that we could fix our Senate by getting rid of the filibuster – in reality that just puts a razor-thin majority in charge; one that could change at any time based on a sudden vacancy.

As they claim,  “Our highest priority is the elimination of the legislative filibuster, an outdated Senate rule that has been weaponized and abused by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block overwhelmingly popular legislation supported by a majority of elected senators.” (What’s really popular among voters is photo voter ID, but no one seems to want to adopt that one. Not that it’s a proper federal role, anyway.)

But remember what happened in 2009 once Democrats were finally awarded a filibuster-proof majority that could ram Obamacare and the stimulus through? A month later Ted Kennedy was dead, and five months after that (after more dubious legerdemain from the Massachusetts General Court allowing Kennedy’s interim successor to be placed in office before a special election) that 60-seat majority was no more. I wish no ill will on any Senator, but in theory that Democrat majority is only as good as the health of any of its 48 Senators (plus the 2 “independents” who caucus with them.) Would they still be down with eliminating the filibuster if Joe Manchin decided to switch parties and suddenly Mitch McConnell was placed back in charge? Doubtful – they’d be back to where they were defending the filibuster just a few short years ago.

Being that we have two Democrat Senators here in Delaware (as that’s the state this series of spots seems to be aimed at) it seems like a bit of a waste to urge support unless they know that the people aren’t buying what’s being sold to back the move to eliminate the filibuster, which the FOS group describes as a relic of the last century.

Unlike the House, which has a strict majority rule and has, at times, decided key legislation by just a vote or two, the Senate is portrayed as the deliberative body. Eliminating the filibuster basically puts the Senate in the same role as the House, and that’s not what it was intended for.

But if we were to make a change in the Senate that would bring it even closer to its initial intent, we would take the real progressive step of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment. As envisioned, the Senate would return to representing the interests of the states, which has become more and more important in situations where Arizona wants to audit its election results and Texas wants to build a barrier at their border with Mexico because the federal government isn’t doing its job of border security. Perhaps such a move could hasten the necessary rightsizing of the federal government as well.

Of course, one would suspect this would put much of the electoral industry out of business – especially in a state like Delaware where there are more Senators than House members. But 2022 turns out to be a fallow year in the First State anyway since neither of our Senators is on the ballot, and it would make the local elections much more important as our General Assembly would eventually select the Senators. Imagine the emphasis shifting from a statewide race to races in swing districts around the state – districts that may see changes thanks to the new role the legislators would adopt.

Would that have an effect on the composition of the Senate? Of course, but not by as much as one might believe. At this point in time, there are 30 states where the legislature is Republican, 18 where it’s Democrat, and one mixed. (Nebraska is nonpartisan, but would likely lean GOP.) So eventually the GOP would get some degree of control, but in 2022 they would only gain three seats and it’s likely they would have done so anyway. (Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire are Democrats representing states that have GOP-c0ntrolled legislatures. Two of the three won special elections in 2020.) Make this an issue in state races and there could be states where Republicans lose control of the legislature.

Because the other side sees the Constitution as a hindrance and not a North Star of guidance, I probably have a better chance of hitting the jab lottery than seeing change like the one I propose. But it’s a change we need to bring government back to its proper place. After all, if one state screws up we have 49 others to take up the slack, but when Uncle Sam makes the mistake we all pay.

There’s nothing wrong with the system that repealing the Seventeenth can’t fix, but once the filibuster is gone, well, so is our republic.

Time for a new arrangement?

I didn’t really want to end a long absence from the site with my Shorebird of the Month next week (nope, I can’t wait to restart that tradition after an unplanned and extended hiatus) and, luckily, listening to the Dan Bongino radio show for the first time yesterday gave me an idea to bounce around.

[Dan’s show has a different, more serious tone than Rush, although Limbaugh lost a little of his sense of humor in the Obama-Trump years. But it was interesting enough for me to listen for the better part of an hour as I drove around to check things off the honeydo list. I actually set out at Phillips Landing (locals know where I’m talking about) for awhile to catch this part of the show in my car, so Dan sets things up well.]

The idea Bongino got into was the thought of how to preserve and expand conservative power. Given the successes of places like Texas, Florida, and other low-taxing, lightly-regulating states in the grand national scheme of things, Dan expounded on a two-pronged plan to bring back our nation to its time-tested conservative values, with the first part being simply: move.

I preface this part by presuming there are more people who prefer a right-of-center, populist political philosophy exhibited by Trump than the radical leftist Biden regime – which is seemingly propped up by allies in the media, both social and otherwise. Evidence to buttress this point of view is the number of people leaving states like New York, California, Illinois, and Michigan for the greener pastures of Texas and Florida. Among the crowd I’m most familiar with, South Carolina and Tennessee are also popular places to go. Anyway, these folks are among those who have already taken Bongino’s advice and made these already-red states an even deeper ruby hue.

It’s a theory that makes some sense on a Presidential and Congressional level: in the next Presidential election traditional red states gained on a net basis just by the shifting of seats from Democratic bastions like the aforementioned California and New York down to Florida and Texas – and this was before the pandemic and Biden administration. Accelerating the growth of Republican-led states gives an opportunity to regain control of the House and adds to the bank of electoral votes a GOP candidate can count on when running for President.

So those conservatives who are in regressive states like New York and California were advised to move and let the Left waste a maximum number of votes. But what of those who are stuck in these states thanks to jobs or family obligations? It’s a category that I fall into because my wife and I can’t telecommute and she has a close family.

Bongino was inspired by this piece by Michael Anton at the American Mind, and it reflects some writings I’ve made in the past about a greater Delaware and how it would play out politically. While the most recent news on that front has been about the concept of a greater Idaho (wonder what my old friend Marc Kilmer thinks about that?) Dan made a point about western Maryland shifting over to West Virginia as the areas are politically closer to Charleston than Annapolis – surely they get tired of their couple state Senators and half-dozen Delegates regularly being bulldozed in the General Assembly – but the same could be argued for the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, they really don’t have an adjacent rock-solid conservative state so their best bet may be a Delaware merger.

(Another, more academic and judicial study on the state secession subject was written by Glenn Reynolds, if you’re interested.)

However, all this talk brings up a corollary point about Senate seats.

We know that the key reason we’re talking about statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia is the four Senate seats Democrats could count on winning. (If their motive was truly representation for District citizens, it would be easiest just to allow the retrocession of all but the federal buildings to Maryland. But that doesn’t give the Democrats two Senators since Maryland is already a lock for them, although it could eventually give Maryland another House seat.)

By that same token, creating new states out of Republican areas won’t fly with Democrats who wouldn’t want the two Senators who came from those regions. (One example is the state of Jefferson, often discussed by those same Oregonians who now want to merge with Idaho. Jefferson would include rural Oregon and part of northern California.)

Anton points out that, since the Missouri Compromise, states have regularly been adopted in pairs. That pairing may be more difficult to achieve in these cases, though, since few red states have blue areas that would qualify to be states by population.

But the principle of moving to red states would only solidify those places, and when you’re talking about Senators these states already send two Republicans. So I think I have a corollary to the moving blue-to-red idea: what about moving to the smaller blue states, like Delaware? It would be something on the scale of the already-existing Free State Project in New Hampshire.

For example, Vermont is a blue state but it only has 500,000 registered voters. Imagine if 50,000 conservatives moved in to tip the scales to making it more purple and Bernie Sanders became an ex-Senator. The same type of idea might work in other small states like Maine, Rhode Island, and – of course – Delaware. Think of what those eight Senators could do if these states were flipped!

But even if just a couple of these states could be shifted, that brings up other possibilities for county shifts. I’ve talked about Delaware as a larger state, but imagine the newly conservative Vermont picking up adjacent areas of New York or Massachusetts (and gaining electoral votes.) At that point all of electoral math starts to shift in favor of the working class over the elites.

And while I’m at it, here’s another idea for the hopper.

If we did electoral votes by Congressional district nationwide like Maine and Nebraska do, the electoral fraud perpetrated by Democrats would have had much less effect. In 2020 Biden would have still prevailed but more narrowly (277-261) but then again one could speculate what turnout may have been like in certain areas where people in the real world thought they had nothing to vote for and didn’t show up.

But imagine states thought long gone to the other side, like California or Texas, now coming into a bit of play because there may be three to five EVs in play there from swing districts. While Delaware will always perfectly reflect results of the entire state unless we somehow gain a second Congressional seat, under this formula Maryland may have two to three votes possibly swing to the GOP instead of being a usually dependable 10 in the Democrat column. This would have made even an election like 1984’s blowout a little more interesting – remember, Democrats always had a Congressional majority in those days so Walter Mondale may have easily cracked 200 electoral votes despite a double-digit popular vote loss.

So I think for my next post I will clean out the old mailbox again then it’s time for the Shorebird of the Month, which may come down to how top contenders do this weekend.

A terrible idea advances

It goes without saying that, like Maryland has its 90 days of terror we call their General Assembly session, Delaware has its own time of horror – unfortunately for us, it lasts even longer than 90 days and oftentimes doesn’t even end when it’s supposed to.

In this year’s new session, we have seen the continuation of two trends: Democrats get more radically regressive and Republicans cower even more in fear. Perhaps part of this is the impersonal nature of Zoom meetings, but in perusing the vote totals I don’t see much in the manner of Republicans convincing Democrats their way is the wrong way.

However, one bill that bucked this trend to an extent was House Bill 30, which passed the House by a depressing 37-4 vote. The four who voted no were Bennett, Kowalko, Morrison, and Spiegelman – three Democrats and a Republican were the opposition when most of their cohorts voted for what I consider an incumbent protection bill.

Simply put, House Bill 30 repeats the same mistake Maryland made a decade ago by moving its state primary from September to April. Extending the campaign by another five months is in no one’s interest but incumbents, who generally have the financial and name recognition advantage. It also puts the heart of the primary campaign in a season where bad weather may be a factor and there are fewer opportunities to meet and greet voters out and about. For example, I attended an August event last year where it was hot and cold running Republican politicians. That’s where I met the eventual gubernatorial candidate. In the early primary scenario, the candidate probably doesn’t show because they figure the party vote is sewn up – or worse, by that point the party has buyer’s remorse and won’t do anything for the candidate.

If anything, Delaware was a good example of how to compress an election. The furthest out any candidate seemed to make noise in the 2020 state campaign was the Senate bid of Lauren Witzke, who basically kicked off her bid in January, eight months before the primary. Most of the other entrants from both parties didn’t make their intentions known until later on in the spring; in fact, eventual GOP gubernatorial nominee Julianne Murray only entered the race in late May. In the proposed scenario, she’s a day late and probably a lot of dollars short.

Furthermore, over the years we’ve found that people tend to tune out politics until after Labor Day. Judging by the local school board elections, we really don’t do much in the spring as voter participation was sparse for almost every race. Imagine what the electoral burnout of placing these nonpartisan school board elections a couple weeks after a partisan primary will do for that already anemic turnout.

Another critical impact of this decision will be that of placing the filing deadline right in the middle of the General Assembly session, meaning legislators will be making decisions with one eye on who their prospective opponents might be. This will really be the case where two (or more) House incumbents wish to move up to a Senate seat in a district that all might happen to live in. For example, let’s say my Senator Bryant Richardson decided he would retire after his term. In theory, any or all of the four Republican House members whose district overlaps with Richardson’s could vie for the spot and that decision would have to made during session. (The reality is more likely that only one or two actually live in his district, but even having two is still an issue.)

Moreover, instead of allowing a legislator considering retirement a chance to finish the session before deciding, he or she would have to announce this decision beforehand, making them the lamest of ducks for the entire session and perhaps creating the above scenario.

If politics ran the way I thought they should, we wouldn’t have any campaign officially kick off until after the beginning of the year of the election. Using a Presidential campaign as a guide, you have your conventions around Labor Day with six weeks of eight-state regional primaries held on a rotating basis running from early June to the middle of July. We’ll even keep the New Hampshire primary first by having it the first Tuesday in June and the Iowa caucuses can kick things off right after Memorial Day. Done in less than six months, not measured in years. The pundits, networks, and political junkies may hate it, but I think it would be a great idea.

So let’s be the exception and keep our last-in-the-nation primary. We’re the First State, but there are times it’s good to be the fiftieth.

Disheartening numbers

No one ever said change would be easy. But the prospects for school reform in Delaware took a step backward in several districts.

You may recall a post or two ago I talked about dueling endorsements from the Patriots for Delaware (P4D) and the Democratic Socialists of America Delaware chapter (DSA), although the latter only implied their list was one of preference rather than endorsement given the “right-wing” nature of Patriots for Delaware. And by the time the smoke cleared on Tuesday night, it was apparent that the upstart Patriots group has some work to do.

Out of five (there was a late add in Smyrna) candidates that P4D endorsed, all five (including one incumbent) lost. The percentages varied from 20.58% for the Patriot-backed candidate in the Red Clay district to a close 47.92% from the incumbent who lost in Woodbridge. Even more infuriating, though, was that the quintet all lost to candidates preferred by the DSA. (In three of the races, it was obvious since there were only two running.)

But while the DSA could be happy that they knocked off all five P4D candidates, the other five they backed only went 1-for-5, including a big defeat here in my Laurel district. If anything, however, Ivy Bonk probably handed victory to the retread who was trying to get back in after losing last year because she split the opposition vote, meaning Joey Deiter fell seven votes short, 147 to 140. Bonk had 71, so it’s no stretch to figure most of those would have voted for Deiter if it were a two-person race.

So now that Patriots for Delaware has been through a race cycle, they have some lessons to learn. For one thing, candidate recruitment begins now. We know that pretty much every school district in Delaware will have a school board election next year, so there should be an effort to find someone in every district who can be trusted and won’t need vetting. (And some advice for those considering it: start culling anything remotely objectionable from your social media accounts.) We know those who purport to be “investigative” journalists tend to point their magnifying glass only one way, so be cognizant of that fact.

The second part is trying to figure out a way to seize the narrative. The key issues this time around were reopening schools after the pandemic and the battle against Critical Race Theory getting a foothold in the schools. Meanwhile, other kids in parochial schools have been in class all year and are being taught a proper appreciation for both history and one another. Find the success stories: good kids who go to these alternative schools (or are homeschooled) and hold them up as ideals when compared to public school kids. And ask the questions: why can’t public school kids measure up, and how are those on the school boards going to address the problem? (Hint: it ain’t more money.)

I know that P4D is trying to get people interested in taking the time to attend their local school board meetings, and that’s a good idea, too. If a rogue board knows there is public scrutiny, they may think twice about taking objectionable steps. Our side pays taxes, too – in fact, we may pay more than the other side does.

It was a great idea for Patriots for Delaware to take that first step, and now they have some inkling what to expect. Hopefully come May of next year, they will be celebrating some initial victories on the road back to sanity for the state of Delaware.

A tale of two endorsements

On Tuesday, voters across a wide swath of Delaware, including my home district here in Laurel, will choose at least one member of their school board in local elections. I noted awhile back that our one seat had four aspirants, which was tied for the most in the state, but since then one of them withdrew and left us a three-person race.

To be frank, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of media interest in these hyperlocal elections and I haven’t really come across much in the way of campaigning except for scattered yard signs from two of the three here in my district. Other districts, however, seem to have a little more action.

One of the rare stories regarding this race piqued a bit of interest on both sides of the political spectrum. A Delaware News Journal story discussing my newfound friends at the Patriots for Delaware (P4D) and the five candidates they have thus far endorsed also begat a counter from the Delaware chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) with “a statewide list of people running that we are not officially endorsing but are suggesting.”

Since the Patriots for Delaware only endorsed five people running – with one assured of victory because he’s unopposed – here are the four remaining contests where both sides have endorsed a candidate:

  • Brandywine (NCC): Tonya Hettler (P4D) vs. Kimberly Stock (DSA). There is also a Libertarian candidate, Scott Gesty – which is sort of bad news since they may split the reformer vote, but hopefully won’t.
  • Cape Henlopen (Sussex): Ashley Murray (P4D) vs. Janis Hanwell (DSA). Two-person race.
  • Red Clay (NCC): Janice Colmery (P4D) vs. Kecia Nesmith (DSA). Rafael Ochoa is a third candidate, who may get the vote of people convinced the other two are extremists.
  • Woodbridge (Sussex): Danielle Taylor (P4D) vs. Elaine Gallant (DSA). Two-person race.

It’s worth pointing out that the DSA didn’t necessarily seek out candidates, but are putting up this list because they seek what they call “real and positive educational leadership.” It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if their list isn’t a simple reflection of candidates backed by the teachers’ union.

Here in Sussex County, I’ve already covered two of the five districts holding an election (Indian River is not) and the Seaford district has just one candidate. That leaves Delmar and Laurel.

Delmar has some spirited races going because there are two races: one for the last two years of an unexpired term and another for a full term. Interestingly, the DSA chose not to endorse anyone in the Delmar races (the only such contests in the state) so we’ll let them fight it out accordingly.

In Laurel, the DSA chose a former school principal with the memorable name of Ivy Bonk, who hasn’t otherwise grabbed my attention (she has no signage that I’ve seen nor a social media campaign page) but does have the claim to fame of writing two books on childhood trauma. It’s interesting that the DSA did not choose the former board member who lost last year and decided to run again (David B. Nichols) and I didn’t figure on them backing the youth coach who has kids in the Laurel school system (Joey Deiter.)

To be honest, I think the best choice in these cases is generally the outsider since a new set of eyes can often see problems that exist right under the nose of the others on the board. This race has two outsiders, but one of them talks right over the head of the electorate with her buzzwords and jargon, a lingo which includes the concept of equity I’ve considered quite a bit recently. The other coaches kids and has a wife who runs a family business, so I believe he would be more amenable to the arguments I would make about instilling competition for the school system to make the prospects better for all children.

So I’m going to go with Joey Deiter. We’ll see if my endorsement carries more weight than the one provided by the Democratic Socialists of Delaware.

Patriots for Delaware meet at Range Time

I’m sure there are critics who would believe it was appropriate for a conservative-leaning group to meet at the extreme edge of the state, and indeed if you walked across Bethel Road from Range Time you would find yourself in the wilds of Maryland. But the local (and relatively new) indoor gun range was the locale for a tent meeting for the Patriots for Delaware on Tuesday night.

The space owned by Range Time afforded it plenty of room to set up the tent and a few tables, and park a batch of cars aside from its own parking lot. The owners of the firing range have become enthusiastic backers of the Patriots for Delaware.

I said a few weeks back that if the Patriots for Delaware found themselves out Laurel way I may have to stop by and see what the fuss was about. Gumboro is close enough, plus I wanted to check out the building anyway. (Alas, I never made it inside.)

One thing I found out is that this group is very creative. I should have taken a couple steps closer to this sign table, but this was meant to be sort of an overall test shot because of the long shadows. Turns out it makes my point.

(Notice they had quite a bit already in the donation box, too.)

It’s hard to read at this level of detail, but here is what some of these signs say:
“Patriots for Delaware: United in Liberty” (Pretty evergreen.)
“Defund Police? Disarm Citizens? Empower Criminals? No thank you! Vote NO on SB3 & SB6!” (These are “gun control” bills before the Delaware General Assembly.)
“Office Space Available: Contact your Representatives and Senators for Details.” (This refers to the virtual meetings the General Assembly has held since last March.)

They have a lot of good ones besides those for supporting small business, reforming education, and so forth.

One thing I was remiss in capturing was the presence of a couple vendors there as well as a hot dog stand. So there was dinner available if you didn’t mind hot dogs, chips, and a pop.

Here’s another sign that, if the print weren’t so small and the photographer was thinking about it, would give you an idea of where the Patriots for Delaware stand. This was my shot to check lighting in the tent, and unfortunately that was about as good as I was going to get.

It’s definitely unfortunate I didn’t get a closeup of the sign; then again it’s the same objective as you see on their website.

Truly, what they had to say was more important than whether I took good photos or not – after all, there were probably 75 to 100 people who took time out of a Tuesday night to attend.

This was an initial shot of the crowd. They took the back flaps off the tent so the people outside could see better. By the way, the gentleman in the blue seated next to the pole is Sussex County Council member John Rieley, whose district we were in (it’s also mine.) He spoke briefly during the Q & A portion at the end, or else I wouldn’t have known him.

After an opening prayer which beseeched His help for “a nation in need,” we we introduced to the group’s concept by its co-leaders, Glenn Watson, Jr. and Bill Hopkins. This is made necessary because each meeting has such a high proportion of new faces, in part because they move around the state.

The group was “brought about with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in mind,” said Hopkins, who added that the government was not doing its job of guaranteeing it. “If we don’t do something, we’ll have nothing,” Bill continued, noting as well that “we have to forget about this party thing.” Patriots for Delaware was out to attract members from all the parties who agreed on their core concepts.

When it was Glenn’s turn he added that earlier that Tuesday the group was active at the Legislative Hall rally, where they called on our General Assembly to resume public meetings instead of the Zoom meetings that are held inside the hall, with the public locked out. Reopening the legislature was just one of its current priorities, but it also went along with a list of bills they were working to favor or oppose – mostly the latter. (We received a handout of their legislative agenda.)

An interesting sidebar was learning that State Sen. Dave Lawson has been doing the Zoom meetings from his legislative office, with Tuesday’s meeting having the added feature of sign bearers in his background calling on the state to return to “Leg Hall.”

The Patriots for Delaware approach was that of working from the bottom up, which made the slew of school board elections ongoing around the state a key point of interest. The group was in the process of sending out detailed questionnaires to candidates around the state with an eye on endorsing ones they saw fit. There were about three candidates already so endorsed, although none locally.

But there was more to the school boards than just elections. As a rule, their meetings are lightly attended by the public (perhaps by design) but members were working to ferret out waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. “We need people to make this happen,” said Glenn, so the group was looking for volunteers to attend school board meetings. Something I learned from the chair of their education committee is that the big roadblock to fully opening up schools is the limit in bus capacity.

It should be noted that the first third to half of the meeting was going through committee reports from several of their seven committee chairs. There were actually four other scheduled speakers: the well-received and popular 2020 GOP gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray, Mike Jones of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (naturally, since the event was being held at a firing range), Jim Startzman of the Delaware State Sportsmen Association (ditto), and Larry Mayo of the Institute on the Constitution.

Murray, who announced last week she was filing suit in federal court to get the Delaware General Assembly back to meeting in person with public access, noted that while she was glancing behind her to the 2020 election and questions about it, she was more focused on 2022 – an election where we will need hundreds of volunteer poll watchers.

In the meantime, she urged those assembled to beseech the Republicans in the Delaware House to stop HB75, which would allow the DGA to set election terms (basically, codifying a repeat of 2020.) “We’ve got to be smart going into 2022,” she said, “and HB75 is huge.”

Before heading out to tend to a family matter, Murray hinted that her next campaign may not be a second try for governor in 2024, but running against incumbent Attorney General Kathy Jennings next year.

Jones introduced those attending to the USCCA, which provides legal representation to its members in the case of a self-defense incident, while Startzman detailed that his group would be gearing up for lawsuits against the gun grabbing legislation being considered in the General Assembly. For that, they need members and donations.

Mayo revealed that his latest class of IotC graduates would matriculate this week and a new 12-week course would begin next week in Milford. (It’s also available online and on DVD. I guess you don’t get the fancy graduation ceremony.)

Lastly, we had the Q and A portion, which featured an interesting revelation from the aforementioned Councilman Rieley.

Recently Sussex County settled a lawsuit where the plaintiffs contended the county was shortchanging schools because they had not reassessed property since 1974. Rather than fight it, the county agreed to do a three-year assessment at a cost of $10 million.

Of course, people worry about their taxes increasing, but Rieley told those assembled that the goal was revenue neutrality as rates would be reduced. The “maximum” one’s taxes could increase was 10 percent, although he noted some in the western portion of the county may see a decrease. (The increase would likely fall on those in the rapidly-developing eastern half of the county.) Additionally, he promised, “we are not going to be raising taxes anytime soon.” (Then again, for the most part Sussex County simply serves as a pass-through for the state, so they can be blamed.)

I gotta admit, I was a little rusty on the note-taking part of the meeting, but it was an interesting hour and a half that went by quickly. (I couldn’t sleep anyway – it got a bit nippy in that tent once the sun went down.) The next meeting (set for next Tuesday, April 27) isn’t too far down the pike from me in Greenwood, so if my calendar is clear I may head that way. If you are a Delaware resident “barely left of militia” like I am, or even somewhat closer to the center, this is an interesting grassroots group to follow.

A supportive Second Amendment solution

Some days I impress myself. So as not to let good writing go to waste, I’m going to extend some remarks in this forum.

My Congressional representative that I’m saddled with, Lisa Blunt Rochester, came up with this pablum today:

We, as a country, should be ashamed by this graphic. I remain committed to supporting common sense gun violence prevention policies and to ending this scourge.

Social media post by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, April 16, 2021.
May be an image of map and text that says 'Gresham MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE PAST MONTH Stockton Cleveland Orange Essex Philadelphia Baltimore River Grove Chicago Indianapolis Boulder Memphis Aliceville Dallas Yazoo City Houston Atlanta Washington, DC Norfolk Virginia Beach Tuscaloosa Wilmington CNNI NEWSROOM'

So I wrote this in response (no blockquote here):

The key to “ending this scourge” isn’t in “common sense gun violence prevention policies” – at least not those expressed by draconian gun laws that infringe on our rights. Problem is, though, the solution is not a quick fix so you can’t run on “doing something about it.”

When the value of life is cheapened to that of pixels on a video game and the culture is such that any slight needs to be addressed with getting a gun and shooting someone, that is the problem.

For decades, rural kids grew up around guns and had access to them, but you didn’t hear about mass shootings despite their proliferation because they were given a moral foundation that taught respect for life and for others. That’s been lost in this world of today, and I think it’s the “participation trophy” generation at fault. I grew up in a rural area and have plenty of respect for weapons because I know the damage they can do if misused.

We are not always going to get our way in life. The Indianapolis shooting sounds like many others: a combination of perceived slights and lack of ability to deal with failure or rejection by a troubled young man. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory and take those who he blamed for his problems with him. That’s not the fault of millions of law-abiding gun owners who use their guns for self-protection, hunting, etc.

Most of all, we need our guns to keep the government honest. The county sheriff where I used to live openly expressed his refusal to participate in any sort of gun confiscation program, saying he wouldn’t send his deputies out on a suicide mission. He was right, and that’s why there’s a Second Amendment – it makes tyrants think twice.

That may sound like a paranoid way of thinking, but I think I understand human nature and once a government gets a whiff of tyrannical power they don’t give it back easily.

*****

I also wanted to add that we have no idea how the perpetrator got his gun and he’s not alive anymore to speak to the subject, going out in the “blaze of glory” I referred to above. Something tells me he probably got it legally, falling in the cracks of the system we have due to his young age (although it depends on what he used as a weapon – only rifles and shotguns are legal for purchase for those over 18 but under 21.)

Should we be ashamed by the graphic? Actually, we should because we are failing ourselves as a society when we confuse a means to preserve our life with a means to end those of others. The shame isn’t in the tool but in the attitude, since we will never know just how many with access to a gun who got angry or frustrated enough to go out and shoot whoever thought better of it when they remembered the life lesson that death is forever and life can be better tomorrow once the situation blows over. That’s what faith is about.

I doubt many of these mass shooters were right with God, but as long as we all breathe life there’s always the opportunity to become so. At that point we realize we have a tool for self-defense, feeding the family, and keeping would-be tyrants in line.