Was Delaware gerrymandered?

Earlier this week the state of Delaware had new legislative districts come into effect. They had to be in place by one year before next year’s election so, after the usual suspects blamed Donald Trump for the late Census data – which had to be finagled to account for the last known address of the prison population – the Democrats got their maps through.

Over the next week or so, I’m planning on digging deeper into these numbers and districts. I don’t know where pockets of R or D voters live specifically, but just based on the population and registration numbers there are a few things which merit a second glance. I know my districts didn’t change, so there is that.

Since the candidates may now file in their new districts, I was hoping the state would update their website accordingly so we could see who was already running in 2022. Alas, it was not to be.

However, I did find an interesting calendar of municipal elections for next year. Our friends in Laurel are one of just a handful of towns in the state with no election next year – however, they were one of those that didn’t cancel their balloting this year. (Just one Delaware town remains yet to decide this year, although I happen to know that just across the border in Delmar, Maryland they vote next Tuesday in a hotly-contested mayoral race, among other things.) Maybe next year there will be interest in the tiny town of Bethel, which is just up the road a piece from me.

In looking at this year’s list, I noticed most of the spring elections were bagged, probably due to a lack of candidates. But more of the fall elections took place, which to me shows a newfound interest from the grassroots. It’s something to follow once the calendar flips over to 2022.

So I didn’t want you all to think I forgot about you. This is the month I start getting together my compilations and update some of my pages – hard to believe we are two weeks from Thanksgiving, 20 days from sweet sixteen for my site, and three weeks from inducting the Class of 2021 into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. It’s a busy month behind the scenes here.

And yes, I will delve into this data.

Thoughts on the offyear Tuesday

Back in the summer, there was this political race going on. Everyone thought the guy who had been in office for four years and hand-picked his successor after that was going to cruise to victory, since we had just elected a still-popular President with whom he shared a party affiliation.

But sometime around Labor Day, the shine began to come off that President thanks to some REALLY bad decisions he made. Meanwhile, the school year began and there were a lot of parents who saw what their kids were being exposed to in school and that they had to wear face diapers, and they didn’t like it one bit. So they began coming to school board meetings only to get resistance from the status quo in the school boards.

Then came the debate, the one where this supposed shoo-in told parents it wasn’t their job to chime in on what their children were taught. Proving how out of touch he really was, this candidate brought in surrogates from all over the country to campaign for him, including that unpopular President. And the opponent? He took the parents’ side, and made it his mission to tell them so by traveling all over the state to meet with them in person. Like a certain President’s ice cream cone left out in the sun, Terry McAuliffe’s polling lead melted away and Wednesday morning Virginians were officially told there would be a Republican governor come January once McAuliffe conceded.

And talk about coattails! Not only did Glenn Youngkin win his race in what would have been considered a stunning upset even a month ago, he brought along his party’s lieutenant governor and Attorney General candidates as well as enough House of Delegates members to flip control of the body back to the GOP.

All over the country, it seemed like the GOP was ascendant. They came close to winning the New Jersey governor’s race, in a contest they were predicted to lose by double-digits. Down the ballot, a three-time candidate who reportedly spent $150 on his campaign (not counting slate money, which bumped it up to about $2,000) knocked off their Senate President, a longtime machine Democrat. Even better, it was a tough day for so-called progressives, who saw their candidates and causes shot down all over.

There is such a thing as overreach in politics. Overall, we are still a center-right country and the far left hasn’t quite sold us on their snake oil yet. They’re working on it with the youth but the occupant of the White House is the conservative’s best salesman. It doesn’t, however, guarantee success in beating them back next year.

And if I wanted depressing results, I only had to turn to my old hometown. As they circle the drain, they elect the same old morons and vote to raise their own taxes then wonder why they don’t succeed – unless success is considered making everyone dependent on a failing city government. Even their suburbs aren’t immune, as a good friend of mine lost his re-election bid to their town council. Now those are some voters who voted against their best interests.

So, with these results in hand, we now begin the 2022 campaign in earnest. Those of us in Delaware will have a quick detour in the spring to determine school boards (now those should be interesting campaigns) but the real action will come next fall as all 62 seats in our General Assembly will be up for grabs with spanking new districts. (Mine will be the same old ones, though.) We also elect our treasurer and attorney general, a race which already has some interest. In the next few days these races will begin to populate as the new districts become official – I think that’s why we don’t have a candidate list yet.

A potentially disturbing report

In order to run the 2022 election properly, perhaps we should understand why fewer and fewer people trust the results from the 2020 election.

In 2022, the state of Delaware will commence with early (and often) voting for the first time. It wasn’t our choice, since no one but the General Assembly voted on it, and I don’t recall a real crush of voters demanding Election Day become Election Month. We also may or may not have the same mail-in ballot issues that we had in 2020 since the powers that be keep on telling us the pandemic is real. (It is, but we are nowhere near spring 2020 infection levels.)

Before I continue, I’m going to throw some numbers at you. In Delaware:

  • Biden/Harris defeated Trump/Pence by 95,665 votes.
  • Chris Coons defeated Lauren Witzke by 105,750 votes.
  • Lisa Blunt Rochester defeated Lee Murphy by 84,990 votes.
  • John Carney defeated Julianne Murray by 102,591 votes.
  • Bethany Hall-Long defeated Donyale Hall by 88,295 votes.
  • Trinidad Navarro defeated Julia Pillsbury by 91,438 votes.

While the margins seem impressive, it’s worth pointing out that in terms of machine votes (in-person):

  • Trump/Pence defeated Biden/Harris by 208 votes.
  • Chris Coons defeated Lauren Witzke by 8,415 votes.
  • Lee Murphy defeated Lisa Blunt Rochester by 3,510 votes.
  • John Carney defeated Julianne Murray by 6,516 votes.
  • Donyale Hall defeated Bethany Hall-Long by 835 votes.
  • Trinidad Navarro defeated Julia Pillsbury by 7,014 votes.

I will grant that Democrats, who seemed to be more afraid to live than Republicans who stood in somewhat socially distanced lines on a cool but clear Election Day, were far more prone to send in their ballot. They took good advantage of the rules and the COVID-tilted playing field that made gaining name recognition for the Republicans an uphill battle since many events were scrubbed thanks to the CCP virus.

So it’s disappointing (but, alas, not shocking) to find that the Patriots for Delaware advocacy group has been looking into the 2020 election and finding the numbers don’t add up. This is the operative portion of a recent report by their “election integrity team.”

The election integrity team has found that there are 1,768 people who voted on Nov 3, 2020, after they died. Shockingly, 1,165 of these dead voters are recorded as having voted at a polling place, on an ES&S voting machine (ID required). The others mailed in their ballots.

Numerous problems are apparent when we take a closer look at the details surrounding these dead voters. For example, 91% of confirmed dead voters have been deceased since at least 2015 and have a history of voting after death. Meaning, 1,608 dead voters are not only recorded as having voted in 2020 but also voted in 2016 and/or prior elections, after they died. Half of the dead voters were registered to vote and/or sent in ballot applications, after their date of death.  22% of dead voters have been dead for decades and in hundreds of cases, generations. In one specific case, the voter died in 1963 and cast a ballot on an ES&S voting machine in 2020. Furthermore, Title 15, Chapter 17, Subsection 1705 (a) of Delaware Code states, ‘The State’s Office of Vital Statistics shall send each month to the Department and to the State Election Commissioner a complete and accurate file or list of each person 16 years of age or older who has been reported to have died within the State since the previous report.’  ‘(c) Upon receipt of a file or list from The Office of Vital Statistics, the Department shall cancel the registration of each registered voter whose name is on the list.’ Why hasn’t Anthony J. Albence, our election commissioner appointed by Carney, adhered to Delaware election laws? How do votes from the deceased get recorded on a voting machine?

Continuing on, one of the qualifications to register to vote in Delaware elections is that you must be a DE resident. The team has found that 2,117 people voted in our 2020 General Election who had previously moved out of state. These votes are in direct conflict with the DE qualifications to vote and should not have been counted. Period. Also, there are 1,854 voters who moved before the election with no forwarding address and voted in Delaware in 2020. If the mail-in portion of these voters do not have a forwarding address, how did they receive the ballot they used to vote in our election?

Additionally, the team discovered an anomaly in the mail-in/absentee ballot return rate. Nationally, mail-in ballots are returned at a rate of 71%. According to information received from a Department of Elections FOIA request, 168,629 mail-in ballots were sent to voters and 168,355 were returned. This amounts to a 99.8% mail-in ballot return rate. That is a 28.8% higher return rate than the national average and is statistically impossible. For perspective, 28.8% of mail-in ballots is equal to 48,480 votes.

Last, the analysis of election data totals has shown some curious findings. For example, the Department of Elections FOIA states that 168,629 mail-in ballots were sent to voters. However, there are 191,323 mail-in ballots recorded in the ‘voted file’ from Election Day, with 187,381 of those ballots officially accepted. How is it possible for election officials to receive over 22K more ballots than they sent out? The total amount of votes, both machine and mail-in, recorded in the ‘voted file’ is 530,411 votes. The total votes recorded on the Department of Election website is 504,010. A difference of 26,401 votes. Why were tens of thousands of votes from Election Day not counted in the official totals on the state website?

The election integrity team is committed to getting to the bottom of what happened on Nov. 3, 2020. They will be releasing a series of updates over the next several weeks with the intent to educate Delawareans on the details of what their canvas is revealing and the blatant disregard of The People’s right to a free and fair election by our legislature, election officials, and governor. These elected and appointed officials take their salaries from our hard-working hands; therefore, they owe us an explanation in the form of a forensic audit of every single vote. Delawareans should HOLD contributions from any candidate and incumbent in every political party until they do their jobs to protect Delawarean’s essential right to choose their leaders. Without a free and fair election, we can no longer be considered a Republic. It is our duty to unite and stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to save Delaware. We The People have the power. We cannot allow our public servants to spin their wheels until the next fraudulent election. The time to fix 2020 is now.  

God bless The People of Delaware and God bless these United States of America. 

“Election Integrity 10/26/2021 Update,” Patriots for Delaware, October 26, 2021.

These are the sorts of abnormalities that could be explained away in part, and the reason I went through the numbers at the top is to show that the results overall may not have changed anyway, even if all of the “extra” mail-in ballots were Democrat votes and the “shortage” of machine ballots accrued to Republicans, which would almost be statistically impossible. (But, had this been so, it would have made the House and Lieutenant Governor races veeerrrrry interesting.) So Lauren Witzke probably should back off her call for Chris Coons to clean out “her” office.

However, saying that, it’s more possible that the Democrats “stole” two Senate seats from the GOP. Even though the two Senators in question were the two largest RINOs in the Senate, the fact that Democrats succeeded in getting a 2/3 majority in the Senate is important in whether legislation passes or perishes.

What this all tells me is that there’s a lot of work to do before Election Day 2022 – organizing watchdog groups, demanding a culling of the voting rolls, and developing a strategy for countering the Democrats’ advantage in mail-in votes. (It would be even better to go back to pre-2020 rules but it’s certain the majority won’t let that genie return to the bottle.)

And yes, we should get a forensic audit of the 2020 vote.

Just so I don’t have another P4D-related post in a row, I think I will toss in a odds and ends post before I do Weekend of Local Rock next weekend. I had a website issue for a couple days that held this post up.

Will the ground crumble under their feet?

With more and more people crying “let’s go Brandon,” Joe Biden’s poll numbers cratering, and with a Virginia governor’s race (supposedly a bellwether race when Democrats win it) that’s tighter than anyone expected, the Democrats and all their associated special interests are deeply worried about impending doom in the 2022 midterms. They’re so worried, in fact, that I got an intriguing e-mail Saturday from my old foes at Indivisible that started out this way:

Our progressive champions in Congress have fought like hell for us this year. 

For an inclusive recovery that meets the moment. 

For affordable housing. 

For our climate. 

For a path to citizenship.

For lower prescription drug prices.

For affordable childcare.

For a democracy of, by, and for the people. 

How much of it are you willing to give up? How much are you willing to leave unfinished? How many of these things are you willing to let slip away?

Right now, Mitch McConnell and other Trump-loving Republicans are working hard to take it all away and reclaim their congressional majority. And the truth is, unless we start fighting like hell for those members of Congress who fought like hell for us this year, Republicans could win (they only need to win five seats in the House and one in the Senate).

If Republicans are successful, every one of our priorities will be dead on arrival.

Together, we’ve got to start fighting to say we’re not willing to cede any progress. Not one law. Not one priority. Not. One. Inch.

That’s why yesterday, we launched our new electoral program for the 2022 election cycle: Give No Ground. (link added)

“Make sure Republicans don’t get control of Congress next year!”, Indivisible e-mail, October 16, 2021.

In truth, their regressive champions got awful greedy given their lack of a mandate. What they thought was a mandate was really a reaction to a president for whom the media had nothing good to say and whose record should have spoken for itself – but hindsight is always 20-20. Meanwhile, the regressive track record during the Biden regime is really, really detrimental to our interests; hence, the horrible polling. So what will they do?

First off, they got their house organ of CNN to write up a puff piece, which explained that:

The list from Indivisible, a grassroots organization with groups across the country, overlaps in part with the campaign committee’s slate. The beneficiaries of its new “Give No Ground” initiative will receive an initial donation to be followed by bespoke investments, potentially including help with voter mobilization, rapid response messaging and outreach in multiple languages.

“Indivisible launches project to protect Democratic incumbents in 2022,” Gregory Krieg, CNN, October 15, 2021.

“Help with voter mobilization”? Good luck with that.

They plan to spend a minimum of $1 million of dark money (that’s not what they say, but that’s what it surely will be) to prop up seven House incumbents from six states as well as Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. The list from the House is “Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin of California, Lucy McBath of Georgia, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Andy Kim of New Jersey, Antonio Delgado of New York and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.” Except for Cartwright, these representatives came in on the Democrat ripple of 2018, while Cartwright’s district shifted that year due to court-ordered changes in Pennsylvania’s district map. (He was initially elected in 2012.) District changes for this year may make things more difficult for some of these incumbents, but most come from Democrat-dominated states.

It will be interesting to see if the program expands to Maryland once their redistricting is complete. As it stands, the First District (as it’s known at the moment) has longtime Republican Andy Harris seeking a seventh term he once pledged not to seek. (Most likely he’s wishing to be back in the majority again.) While only one Democrat, David Harden, has officially filed against Harris, the odds-on favorite to win that primary is former state legislator and onetime gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur, who moved to the Eastern Shore once she lost her race for Maryland’s top spot. She’s been outraising Harris over the last few months but Andy still has plenty of cash on hand, nearly a 2:1 edge. Yet depending on how the district is drawn, there may be additional resources flowing Heather’s way. And yes, she fits right in with those regressives because she checks a lot of their boxes: LGBT female with a very liberal voting record in the Maryland General Assembly over her tenure there.

On the other hand, the situation in Delaware is bad for Republican prospects, as the leading GOP Congressional candidate right now is the one who just lost to incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester by 17 points 11 months ago. (He did win the votes on Election Day, though – it was the mail-in ballots that provided LBR’s winning margin.) With legislators unable to “run from cover” based on a 4-year term because all 62 seats in the Delaware General Assembly are up in 2022, the question becomes whether anyone will give up a seat for this lottery ticket of a chance.

Worth remembering in all this, though, is that despite Joe Biden’s “victory” in the election last year, he had coattails that were tucked in. A party that was predicted to improve its majority in the House came close to losing it and it took two special elections in the Senate for that majority to be created. (Moreover, for want of about 15,000 votes, David Perdue didn’t get a 50% + 1 majority in his race, which would have made the point moot.) So even if you figure there was an anti-Trump vote in 2020, there’s no Trump on the ballot in 2022. Most of my readers are smart enough to know that Democrats will try to put him there in an attempt to scare independent voters, much as every Republican was a “TEA Party” Republican a decade ago whether we liked them or not.

So here’s hoping that Indivisible wastes all that money. Hey, it will keep a certain class in the Swamp afloat for awhile until they figure out the next grift.

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.

A new local grift?

Among the many reasons I have never run for higher office is that I don’t much like begging for money. (Says the guy who has a “Donate” button on his website – but notice it’s not near the top.)

But one thing I have found in common about a number of failed politicians is their propensity to try and keep their name in the limelight by creating their own political action committee, often with a name which defines its purpose. Such is the case with the perpetual campaign of 2020 U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware Lauren Witzke, who has recently announced the formation of the Hold The Line PAC.

Shouting in ALL CAPS, “Join us as we hold the line to help elect conservatives and defeat the establishment! No compromise!” Lauren’s site currently has a few rotating news stories but its primary page asks for donations, stating:

Hold the Line PAC exists to stop Democrats from making advances in Red states and imposing their radical agenda on conservative Americans.

Focusing on key issues like immigration, the Second Amendment, abortion, and religious liberty, Hold the Line PAC is the voice for Americans who want to keep their traditional values, and not be crushed under the tyrannical boot of “progressivism.”

As the left becomes more radical in its pursuit to bring communism to America, Hold the Line PAC is here to ensure that the Bill of Rights and the Constitution remains the law of the land.

We will NOT sit idly by and let the radical communist Democrats abolish the electoral college, the Second Amendment, and cancel half of the country. Instead, we will fight to preserve the America that we know and love for future generations.

Donate page, Hold the Line PAC

This all sounds really good, but the reality of PACs tends to be far different: most of the revenue accrues to the pockets of various consultants and vendors connected to the PAC, with only a small portion going to assist candidates. We saw this for several years with the TEA Party, as “scam PACs” parted gullible people with their money – funding that, if donated directly to candidates, could have made the difference between victory and defeat. (Note: writing a book on the subject really helps with finding links for later use, and self-promotion never hurt anyone.)

In Lauren’s case, though, having a PAC tied to her is a direct and logical extension of something I was pleased that she did as an underdog candidate: nationalize her race. In fact, out of the 600-plus individual contributions to her campaign itemized in her FEC report, only about 30 percent came from Delaware. And that number was somewhat consistent as the campaign wore on; however, out of the last 100 contributions I counted only 21 coming from people listed as being from the First State. While she came nowhere near the war chest amassed by incumbent Chris Coons and all his PAC money, she still raised nearly a half-million dollars through (mostly) individual donations. Of course, a good deal of it went to various political vendors and consultants.

And that’s the weakness of the PAC approach, because they will also have their vendors and consultants that get their cut before the candidates ever do. Much like Lauren’s political philosophy – which didn’t seem to mind big government as long as the money was spent in the proper fashion – a PAC just adds an extra layer of bureaucracy to what should be a simple transaction. I didn’t need a PAC to make the two donations I made during the last cycle; I did one through the candidate’s website and the other via a check to the candidate. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve even donated to a PAC, although someone who wanted to find little ole me on the various state and federal campaign finance websites may find the truth is that I did – heck, I don’t know with all the (small-dollar) contributions I’ve made over the years.

I suspect that when we look back at this in 2023, we will find that Hold The Line PAC raised a few thousand dollars and spent most of it chasing money via the website and consultant fees. What little they give to candidates will be a drop in the bucket.

I think there are times and races where a PAC would be super useful, but it’s up to Lauren to prove my instincts wrong on this one.

*Postscript: It should be noted that only about half of Lauren’s intake was reported, which means the other half was likely smaller donations that fell under the reporting threshold and I believe those were more likely to have come from Delaware. I don’t want people to get the idea she had no financial support in this state.

The first of many bad ideas

It’s sort of hard to believe, but we’re basically a couple holidays away from the beginning of a new legislative year – and in Delaware, the commencement of a new session of the General Assembly. (Unfortunately, it will be at the behest of the same old governor, John “Governor Carnage” Carney.)

While the recent election was relatively good for the Republicans on a national level in terms of keeping or gaining control of state legislative bodies, Delaware bucked that trend to a point where the Democrats now have a solid 2/3 majority in the Senate (14-7) to go along with the 26-15 margin they kept in the House. Despite that success, Democrats want to make some ill-advised changes to the electoral system instead of useful ones like photo voter ID and scrapping their previously-passed foray into early and often voting come 2022.

One proposal that quickly drew my ire is a bill (I believe this will be HB30) to move the primary date from September to April. To me, this is a terrible idea for several reasons – first and foremost, it’s because the duopoly party establishment wants it. (Of course, if it were up to them we wouldn’t even get a primary – they would simply emerge once the smoke turns white and tell us who the candidates will be.)

We went through this in Maryland about a decade ago, basically because the Democrats HATED protracted primary fights. So they moved the state’s primary up from September to the spring and, first chance they got, selected someone in the 2014 gubernatorial primary they absolutely hated by Election Day. They then doubled down and did it even worse in 2018.

As far as the Republicans went, the chances of an insurgent campaign went right out the window. An early primary gives the media more time to dig (or conjure) up dirt on the GOP hopeful once nominated and also advantages those who have name ID.

My second objection is how it would stretch out campaign season. Admittedly, this is nothing compared to the perpetual campaign for 2024 we will see from Donald Trump if the 2020 election is heisted away from him, but look at how this year’s Delaware campaign played out. The eventual Republican nominees didn’t begin campaigning a great deal until the spring – in fact, had Delaware had its primary in April with its Presidential primary, the GOP nominee would have likely been the same nominee who lost in 2016. None of the “new blood” candidates were viable in the early spring.

If it were up to me, the state of Delaware would be the trendsetter with the late primary. I honestly see no need to begin the Presidential campaign until April, with six weeks of regional eight-state primaries in June and July leading to national conventions running the week before and after Labor Day. (Iowa and New Hampshire can still go first, but having a succession of “Super Tuesday” primaries concentrated in one region beginning a week or two later means a candidate could forgo those contests and still be viable.) Regions can take turns being first.

I will say that there is one part of HB30 that should be stripped out of the bill and allowed to be its own proposal, and that’s the part about changing parties. Since I happen to be in a non-principal party, I could not change my registration to vote in a primary thanks to an absurdly early deadline for switching affiliation (something like four months prior to the election.) This would change it to 60 days, which is fair. Certainly there will be more party switching if this occurs, but sometimes that’s a good political strategy when your party has no primary.

But if I have to toss that baby out with the HB30 bathwater, so be it. This idea is a bad one, which means it will probably be on Governor Carnage’s desk by early March. Such is the political idiocy in Delaware, and we blew our chance at changing that last month.