An unconventional call

I pointed this out back in October when the event occurred, but one of the groups represented at the Unify Delaware Festival was the Convention of States organization. As I said back then, “This group is seeking a Convention of States to address term limits, a balanced budget, and government overreach. Problem is getting 34 states in our (supposedly) federalist republic to agree that’s a bug and not a feature.”

The CoS has been an idea that’s been around since our founding – obviously, since it’s covered in Article V of our Constitution – but it’s become an advocacy group now led by one of the original founders of the TEA Party movement, Mark Meckler. His rendition, explained here in a lengthy “pocket guide,” calls for a convention to discuss three key issues: imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms for office for its officials and members of Congress. More or less, these concepts were some of those things original members of the TEA Party fought for before the movement became a grift – in fact, Meckler resigned from the TEA Party Patriots (which he co-founded) in 2012. In Chapter 9 of Rise and Fall I wrote:

After a three-year run at the top of the Tea Party Patriots, co-founder Mark Meckler resigned in February, 2012, citing “discomfort with the way the financial affairs of TPP have been handled… I believe that TPP is fiscally irresponsible in the way that it spends and manages donor monies.” Meckler also complained that, as treasurer, “I have been excluded from the distribution of critical financial information, and critical discussions about the finances of the organization.”

from The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party.

This particular call has now been adopted by fifteen states of the required 34, but progress has been slowed to a crawl as no state has passed this resolution since 2019. However, there is CoS legislation ongoing in 17 states, which would bring it up to 32 out of 34 if they should somehow pass it. Currently, Nebraska is debating becoming the 16th state and, as CoS points out, there is an interesting group of big-government suspects lined up to oppose the bill. On the other hand, it has a pleasingly varied list of endorsers from all over the conservative spectrum, and over the next week or so they will concentrate a push in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

They are trying to kickstart the movement in other ways as well, debuting a commercial on Newsmax TV Saturday in conjunction with President Trump’s Arizona rally that night. Unfortunately, CoS completely missed an opportunity for further distribution by not placing a video of it on their website. That is a grievous unforced error in my estimation, since I don’t spend my day watching Newsmax whether Trump is on there or not. You have a blog – use it!

In essence, the Convention of States operates on the principle that Congress has no interest in limiting its own power, and that would be the correct interpretation – how many times did a Congressional hopeful come to a TEA Party group promising to change the system yet, three terms later, become just another captive of the Swamp? But it’s not an easy road: if you assume that every state that voted for Donald Trump at least once is a candidate for adoption, that’s only 30 states. You would need four “liberal” states to join in as well, and really the only one that is much of a possibility is New Hampshire, which somehow never voted for Trump but is otherwise a GOP trifecta. A flip of two seats in Virginia’s Senate next year may allow the Commonwealth to be state number 32 in this projection, but it’s going to take a sea change in other states to get them over the hump – and that assumes no states rescind their various calls for convention, which occurred in Delaware a few years ago. (They had a balanced budget amendment call, which was one of the CoS goals. And yes, that was a vote that made my first Delaware edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project as HCR60, so we know who is still on the proper side.)

Unfortunately, too many people still work under two misguided beliefs: one being that the government is actually looking out for them – as opposed to using your labor and your vote to further their own personal fiefdoms – and the other that the federal government will reform itself. Well, if the last century or so isn’t proof enough that the feds like amassing more control over the people and won’t stop even if you say pretty please, I’m not sure I can convince you otherwise. There are a lot of good people in government who are there for the right reasons, but it doesn’t take too many bad apples to spoil the whole bunch.

But in my estimation this may be the proper way to go, since the TEA Party tried using the political route and really didn’t make much everlasting change. Now it may not matter, convention or not, because there is a group in power that’s been ignoring the Constitution anyway, but we can try this method first before other means become necessary. Just ask Thomas Jefferson.

Odds and ends number 108

It’s an end-of-year special on my e-mail box as I go out with the old and in with the new. You know the drill: I give you a paragraph or three on subjects that pique my interest enough to write on but not enough for a full post.

The two-tier Delaware system

I’m going to start out this one with part of an e-mail blast I received several weeks back from District 36 representative Bryan Shupe, the opening paragraphs of which read:

The debate over whether indicted State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness should resign or take a leave of absence from her post highlights a larger systematic failure on the issue of government accountability and transparency in Delaware.

Over the last 18 months, we have seen five Delaware elected officials accused of misconduct. While every citizen should find this disturbing, almost as troubling is that each case has been treated differently. As it stands, legislators pick and choose which colleagues will be held accountable and which ones will be subject to a lesser standard.

I do not believe justice is something that should be decided on an arbitrary sliding scale, based on the personal whims of legislators or the political affiliation of the accused. There should be clear protocols for handling all cases of official misconduct involving elected officials in an equitable fashion.

“Reform is needed to rebuild public trust,” State Rep. Bryan Shupe, October 28, 2021.

Indeed, the double- and even triple-standard is troubling, but all of the circumstances are different, too. In the case of McGuiness, the accusations are damning but she hasn’t had her day in court yet, either. (And to be honest, these charges aren’t really on a Cuomo level. Ask yourself just how many Democrats somehow finagle taxpayer-paid sinecures for their family and friends.) And the rumor has been floating around out there that this batch of dirt was dug up on her because her auditing is getting too close for comfort for those who have taken full advantage of the Delaware Way, if ya know what I mean – wink wink, nudge nudge.

You may also recall Shupe was the sponsor of a voting bill that got left on the cutting room floor after Republicans came to their senses and bounced the Democrats’ mail-in balloting bill last spring. Shupe’s common sense bill was intended to eliminate a practice where, in some municipalities (including Laurel) the voter registration for town elections is separate from those of state and federal elections – so people who think they are registered get shut out of the process. I had never heard of such a thing so this proposal made sense and deserved support, not a three-year-old’s tantrum.

Bad information

About the same time I got Shupe’s assessment of a two-tiered justice system, I got wind of a two-tiered media system.

A piece by Michael Watson of the Capital Research Center discussed the Good Information project, an attempt by far-left entities to open new media markets with websites that claim to be “non-partisan” but will provide a steady diet of pro-Democrat news. (Just like every other “mainstream” media outlet.) Here’s the money paragraph:

As part of the creation of Good Information, the group is acquiring McGowan’s former liberal agitprop network, Courier Newsroom. Courier Newsroom was a front for ACRONYM, operating what the left-leaning OpenSecrets called “a network of websites emulating progressive local news outlets. Courier has faced scrutiny for exploiting the collapse of local journalism to spread ‘hyperlocal partisan propaganda.’”

Michael Watson, “Onetime Disinformation Donors Back Left-Wing Propaganda Targeting Disinformation,” Capital Research Center, October 28, 2021.

I took a look at Courier Newsroom and it’s actually a professional-looking site that links to eight subsites – all in swing states: Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Their tagline is that they’re “Building a more informed, engaged, and representative America” but in order to do that they need to pull themselves off the left gutter and move over about 20 boards. (A little bowling lingo there. Sometimes straighter IS greater.)

Meanwhile, shouldn’t this be something someone on the right side of the spectrum would be doing? People actually believe these propaganda sites.

Another great piece by Watson appeared in The Daily Signal in November and should be required reading for my friends at Patriots for Delaware because it talks about how the unions elect school board members.

Hitting me where I live

This one comes ohsoclose to being promoted to its own post, but I think I can condense like Readers Digest. Here’s the key pull quote from a story I saw back in October.

On Sept. 16, 2021, Delaware lawmakers unveiled a plan to address a much-needed infrastructure improvement project – implementing high-speed broadband across the entire state. This $110 million investment was made possible with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and if completed will make Delaware the first in the nation to make wired broadband available to every home and business in the state.

(snip)

With the proper guidelines in place, getting to 100 percent connectivity is a reasonable goal. The strategic plan estimates that the number of Delawareans without access to high-speed broadband could be brought down by approximately 87 percent if providers were to extend their existing networks just half a mile from their current cutoff points. This approach is called “edge-out.” This approach lends itself to utilizing multiple means of connecting through cable, fiber, fixed wireless, mobile, wireline DSL, and satellite broadband. The plan also suggests using the funding to replace old and failing equipment to ensure that the investment is something that will benefit all Delaware residents for years to come.

Kathleen Rutherford, “The Last Mile: Can Delaware Deliver?”, A Better Delaware, October 29, 2021.

We are a family who is in a broadband desert. Currently I oscillate between a cellular tower-based service provider and phone hotspot depending on time of day and conditions – in the evening the hotspot tends to be faster. We live too far from a Bloosurf tower for it to be viable and, to be honest, our friends who live near their tower say their service is about worthless anyway.

Prior to this move, we had wired service through a cable provider, paying for it as part of a bundle. But there is a wrinkle out here in that we have Delaware Electric Co-Op as our electricity provider and I found out that Choptank Electric Co-Op, which has a similar customer makeup two miles from me across the border in Maryland, offers “broadband over fiber optic connections directly to the home.” So I asked my state representative, Tim Dukes, about this and so far I have no answer.

As far as I’m concerned, for a home internet setup “fixed wireless, mobile, wireline DSL, and satellite broadband” is trash. If you want to spend the $110 million wisely, let DEC (which primarily serves a rural area) wire our homes like Choptank is doing.

The merger

Longtime readers of mine probably know more about iVoterGuide than the average person. The group, which rates federal and state candidates for office from a Biblical perspective, recently announced it was merging itself with American Family Association Action. Debbie Wuthnow, President of iVoterGuide, explained that, “The need for voters to know accurate information about candidates on their ballots has never been greater, and the merger will allow iVoterGuide to immediately expand our coverage to include federal, statewide, and state legislative races in 35 states for the 2022 Primary Elections.  And we’ll continue to grow our coverage of judicial and school board races in key districts.”

As I found out a few years ago in helping them out – a “neat experience” – iVoterGuide is very thorough in their assessment of candidates and they do a reasonably good job of pegging where they stand on the political spectrum. So I wish them the best of luck with their merger, and if they need someone to help assess their Delaware candidates I’m happy to be of assistance.

More advice

I’m sure I have told you about ammo.com since their content pops up on this site from time to time, usually as an odd or an end. So I guess I have an imitator, at least according to this e-mail I’ve now received twice.

Monoblogue,

I came across your blog while doing a little research on a couple of Maryland’s gun laws, and your blog popped in my newsfeed. I appreciate many of your political views. As a Trump supporter, I thought (redacted) would be a good resource for (my site). The recoil score it provides is pretty cool. Haven’t seen it before. Do you shoot? I appreciated your content. 

More fun e-mail.

Jordan, yes, I received your e-mail. Twice.

I’m glad you appreciate many of my political views, but I don’t think the resource is really something I can use. Now if we’re talking paid advertising or sponsorship from the overarching site, well, that’s a different conversation. (Since I’m probably not in line for that Soros money discussed by Michael Watson above.) And to answer your question, I do shoot off my mouth (rhetorically) all the time.

So since I have closed up the e-mail box now (it’s much more streamlined) I can tell you there is one other item in it, but that one is getting a coveted promotion to a full post because I think I can do it further justice. That may be one of my last items of the year before I figure out my annual Christmas message and compile the year in review – can you believe it’s that time?

With that, I bring this odd year of odds and ends to an end.

Redistricting in Delaware: a better idea

Last in a three-part series. Here’s parts one and two to catch you up.

Over the last few years, I’ve become aware of a group called the Institute on the Constitution. Its purpose is to “restore the constitutional republic through grassroots education,” but one wrinkle they’re adding in the near future is a course on Delaware’s Constitution that will be held around the state.

However, all I had to do was read the document to see what the intention of its writers has been regarding legislative districts, as both the initial layout and proposed expansions were spelled out – if rather archaically – in Articles 2 and 2A.

Interestingly enough, the original intent was for 35 House members representing various districts, usually Hundreds. (In the city of Wilmington, it was broken down further to Wards.) Despite the population disparity between New Castle County – then, according to the latest Census at the time in 1890, it had 57.7% of the state’s population – and the rest of the state, New Castle was assigned 15 Representatives, while the other two counties were given 10 apiece.

In Article 2A, it was further decreed that once a district reached a population of 15,000 plus a “major fraction” (which I would interpret as over half, or 7,501) it was entitled to another representative. Obviously over time, some areas have well exceeded their apportionment while others are way short. It’s probably enough to render a strict reading of this provision meaningless, particularly since the Delaware Constitution also states that, “After each official federal decennial census the new Representative Districts created pursuant to this Section (2A) shall be abolished and the Representative Districts set forth in Section 2 of this Article shall again be re-divided as set forth herein.” In theory, of course, these lines can be bent and shaped any way the majority party pleases, although to me that provides legitimate Constitutional questions as to why a district can be in two counties and how Kent and Sussex counties no longer have ten representatives apiece. (I’m betting it’s an effect of something I’m discussing later on.)

Oddly enough, the state Constitution also provided for seven Senators from each county and laid out Senate districts based on Representative districts. I’m going to come back to this in due course, but first let’s discuss an idea for the House.

In Article XVI of the Delaware Constitution, there is a provision to allow voters a say on whether there should be a constitutional convention. It would take a 2/3 vote of each chamber to put it on the ballot.

Now one would think that the majority party might jump at the chance to change the state Constitution, but it doesn’t appear they pay much attention to it anyway. Regardless, assuming such a motion were to pass, the next step would be to choose Delegates for the convention, and that’s where it would get interesting. Because there’s no precedent, the General Assembly would legally have to hew to the initial 35 representative lines for the convention’s membership (15 from New Castle, 10 apiece from Sussex and Kent) then add six other participants – two from New Castle County, two from Kent County, and two from Sussex County. All of these participants would have to be selected by the voters of the respective districts or by the counties at-large, which would give us the opportunity to place 25 or so right-thinking people on the convention committee.

The idea here would be to reset the House: not to the initial 15/10/10 arrangement, because that would be unfair to New Castle County, but to expand the House to about 75 members, which would place districts under the initial 15,000 population threshold with room to grow. In such an arrangement, New Castle would currently have 43 members, 14 for Kent, and 18 for Sussex, with each district averaging about 13,200 people. It could also be incorporated that the House would expand at each Census as necessary to keep the representative district population at 15,000, like the state Constitution initially intended.

The Senate is where things get intriguing. While we still have 21 state Senators, this provision was nullified by the incorrect judicial overreach in two separate cases dating from the 1960s, Baker v. Carr and, later, Reynolds v. Sims, which mandated all state legislative districts be of equal population, whether in the lower or upper chamber. While the subject states were incorrectly maintaining population disparities in their lower legislative chambers, the model of the U.S. Senate should have remained valid for states to follow. In his dissent on Reynolds v. Sims, Justice John Marshall Harlan correctly asserted that, “I think it demonstrable that the Fourteenth Amendment does not impose this political tenet on the States or authorize this Court to do so.” We take the Fourteenth Amendment way too far sometimes and pull our punches in others, but that’s a subject for another day. But it is sufficient to say that the SCOTUS ran roughshod over our Delaware state constitution in both House and Senate composition.

I can work with this on the House side, since the intent is for equal representation for the people. However, one aspect the Court did not appear to address was this: what if it was no longer an individual’s right to directly vote on their Senate representative?

Prior to the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, each state legislature chose its Senators. This insured states would have a voice in the federal government commensurate with that of the people, who directly elected House of Representative members that were apportioned by state population. (Thus, for most of its history Delaware has been represented at-large by just one House member.) There was nothing wrong with that model, which remains somewhat in effect since the number of Senators from each state hasn’t changed, just the method of selection. While it would be even better if the Seventeenth Amendment were somehow repealed (sigh), it’s still an important check on large states, whether they be California, Florida, or Texas, running rampant on federal government as a coalition of smaller states can keep legislature detrimental to them at bay.

To me, it would be worth the court fight certainly required to install this system in the Delaware Senate, where the legislative bodies of each county would select seven Senators apiece on staggered terms to serve in the Senate. It would make local elections vastly more important and allow for the counties to have their voice heard, because the individual concerns of Kent and Sussex are drowned out by the massive delegation New Castle brings to the table. News flash: we ain’t NCC down here.

I can guaran-damn-tee that people are going to read this final part and think I have lost my ever-lovin’ mind. But look at all the Left has foisted on us in the last 20-30 years and think about how crazy some of that would have sounded in 1970 – yet here we are, dealing with it. At some point, the pendulum has to swing, and with any luck and assistance from the Lord above I will be around to see our Constitution come back stronger than ever. It has to begin someplace.

Redistricting in Delaware: where we are going

This is the second of three parts.

As noted in my first part, Delaware Democrats had a problem in redistricting – according to population, they were going to have to move a House district (and potentially a Senate district) out of the Democrat stronghold of New Castle County to the more reddish climes of Sussex County because, of the trio of Delaware counties, Sussex grew fastest by far.

That was what they were supposed to do. Instead, they decided to cram just as many people as they legally could into Sussex’s five Senate districts, which all are larger than average to the point that Sussex has five of the state’s seven largest Senate districts by population. Their only concession was to move Senate District 18, which formerly was roughly split in half by the Sussex-Kent county line, southward to place most of its territory into Sussex County, with a small carveout in Kent County for the city of Milford. Even with this shift, it’s probable that, by the end of the decade, most of the Senate districts in Sussex will exceed the state average by 10 percent while Democrat stronghold districts in and around Wilmington will be hollowed out more. While districts in New Castle generally moved southward, they kept the same number they had before despite the smaller share of population.

As for the House: fortunately, they had a House member from New Castle County who wasn’t planning on running for re-election in 2022 (the politically incorrect Rep. Gerald Brady) so his was the district they selected to transfer to Sussex. By contrast, the Republican map only moved that district southward into a different area of New Castle County and removed District 18, where Rep. David Bentz had similarly announced (under much more acceptable circumstances) that he wouldn’t seek another term, to the fast-growing Long Neck area of Sussex. Regardless, the net result was that of terminating a district that Democrats won with an average of 70% of the vote and moving it to a district where Republicans have an advantage in voter registration.

I’m going to shift the goalposts a little bit now. Let’s use 2% as the new standard for district over- or underpopulation with the revised districts and see how the state is now arranged. I’m also going to concede House District 4 to the Republicans for the purpose of this exercise – hey, they’re now only down 25-16 in the House now!

If all Senators maintained their districts, Democrats in underpopulated Senate districts would be 8 of 14 (57%), while just 3 of 14 (21%) would be from overpopulated areas. On the other hand, 5 of 7 Republican Senators come from districts with more than 2% above-average population, with none from the converse underpopulated districts. All seven current GOP members have larger-than-average districts, although Senate District 15 is so by just six people.

Turning to the House, 10 of the remaining 25 Democrats (40%) represent underpopulated districts, again mostly in the Wilmington area. However, 9 of 25 (36%) come from the inverse overpopulated areas. As you’ll see in the next part, the shifting in New Castle County played a role in this; suffice to say the majority could have done a little better in fine-tuning things. Unlike the situation in Sussex County, several of these overstuffed districts lie in the Middletown and Newark areas, as well as one in Dover.

As for the Republicans it’s the opposite. 6 of 16 (38%) come from districts 2% or more over average. Two of them are in Sussex County districts left alone by the House District 4 shift, and two come from the southern end of New Castle County (or Kent County, as House District 11 continues to straddle the two counties.) Meanwhile, 5 of 16 (31%, including our presumed District 4 rep) hail from underpopulated districts. Three of them, however, were affected by the District 4 move.

The reduction of House District 4 is an interesting case. This is its lay of the land in the last go-round:

The former House District 4 is in red. Redistricting necessitated its relocation to Sussex County. (All images: screenshot from Davesredistricting.org.)

And this is the new map of the same area. Most of its former physical territory appears to have been absorbed into House District 12, but House Districts 1 and 3 on its former eastern flank added enough population to address two of the most serious population shortages.

Most of House District 4 appears to be absorbed into House District 12.

Here is where House District 4 ended up. As you can see by the top map (the existing condition), once you plop in House District 4 the Long Neck area of Sussex County won’t be sharing a district with Georgetown anymore. House District 37 trends to the west, taking a little bite out of House Districts 35 and 36; meanwhile, districts along the Maryland border really aren’t affected.

The state of play in Sussex County before last month.
Long Neck will have its own representative now. We lost the northeastern fringe of our district to District 37.

 Overall, then, I would have to say that the Democrats didn’t take a whole lot of advantage in the House, but their hand was somewhat forced by the obvious population shifts. In ten years, though, it’s likely the GOP strongholds will again be the ones that run well above average.

In the final part, I have some ideas on how to make our legislature more responsive to all interested parties.

Redistricting in Delaware: the current state of play

This is the first of a three-part series on our state’s recent legislative redistricting.

In 2010, the state of Delaware was politically much like it is today, with Democrats in control of both the executive and legislative branches. Jack Markell was early in his first term as governor, while the Delaware General Assembly had Democrat control in both chambers: 14-7 in the 21-seat Senate, and 26-15 in the 41-seat House – this despite an electorate that, at the time, was 47% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 22% unaffiliated, with the remainder scattered among minor parties. Given that control, the Democrats pushed through maps that attempted to continue favoring them.

Although the maps created districts that were reasonably compact and contiguous, and divided the state up pretty much properly between counties in terms of number of seats per county, they also maintained the Democrats’ stronghold on the state. As of this writing, the House and Senate numbers are unchanged from those in 2010, and while the fortunes of the Democrats have ebbed and flowed – a special election in 2017 put the Democrats in jeopardy of losing their Senate majority, although they prevailed thanks to lots of campaign money – the electorate has barely moved in terms of registration: it’s now 48% Democrat, 28% Republican, and 22% unaffiliated, with the rest still enrolled in minor parties. If you assume the unaffiliated and minor party voters line up with the proportion established by the duopoly, Democrats outperform their 63% portion in the Senate by a half-seat and fall right in line with the proportions in the House. However, based on recent state voting results, the non-affiliated electorate tends to skew somewhat more Republican, so in essence the Democrats have “stolen” a couple seats.

And there are reasons why. But let’s begin with the basics: for this discussion, it’s worthy to note that districts in Delaware are numbered in a generally north-to-south fashion, although there is shuffling to some degree in New Castle County, the northernmost county where most of Delaware’s population lives. Over the years, a population shift southward toward the beaches of Sussex County has necessitated the breaking of this pattern: Senate District 6 and House Districts 14, 19, and 20 have all been transplanted from New Castle to Sussex. Otherwise, Sussex has the Senate districts from 18-21 and the House districts from 35-41. (In the new adopted map, Sussex will have another “out-of-place” district as House District 4 moves from New Castle to Sussex. District 4 is currently represented by Democrat Gerald Brady, who has already announced he would not seek re-election thanks in part to cancel culture, so his district was available to move.)

The shifting of districts entirely, writes Captain Obvious, means the population trends in the state have rendered the old districts obsolete. In Delaware there is an allowed 10% deviation in population within districts, which can be 5% higher or lower than average. Knowing that, it’s no wonder that those in charge have an opportunity to heist a few seats by making their safe districts smaller than the average and the opposition’s districts larger. In this case, Delaware’s political makeup and population shifts (which planners were obviously aware of in 2010) have conspired to really give short shrift to the minority Republicans.

To figure out the current state of play, I found some of the measures relied on a website called Dave’s Redistricting. (I’ve used it before to draw a fairer Congressional map in Maryland, where there is such a thing as a Congressional map. It was much better than the brutal gerrymandering that eventually passed.) As of the 2020 census, there are 6 current Senate districts and 9 in the House which exceed the 5% threshold for overpopulation; conversely the underpopulated districts number 9 in the Senate and 12 in the House. In a growing state like Delaware you would expect the opposite, but it’s less surprising when you find out the overpopulated districts are the Republican ones: 4 of 6 in the Senate and 5 of 9 in the House. Put another way, 57% of Republican senators and 33% of Republican House members represent overcrowded districts; the same is true for just 14% of Senate Democrats and 15% in the House.

In contrast – and not unexpectedly – all nine Senate districts voters (and others) are fleeing are controlled by the Democrats. Moreover, 10 of the 12 significantly underpopulated House districts are Democrat-controlled – so they are catering to a shrinking population. Again, no Republican Senator represents an underpopulated district but a whopping 64% of Democrat Senators represent a Senate district more than 5% below average population. In the House, only 13% of Republicans hail from a district severely short on population, but 38% of House Democrats do.

Knowing all that, there was no question that districts had to move, and the Sussex County beaches were going to gain representatives. The question would be how begrudging the Democrats would be in giving Sussex – the most Republican of the three counties – its due.

In part two, I’ll look at where the state is going.

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.

Odds and ends number 105

Well, it’s that time again. It seems like my e-mail box fills faster than ever despite the fact I’ve dropped off a number of lists, and of course I save the stuff I find interesting (but not long enough for a full post) for use here. So here are the few sentence to few paragraph dollops of bloggy goodness.

Manic suppression

I’m sure I’ve told you all that I write for The Patriot Post, and they’re like many other businesses that have shifted their marketing strategy to rely more and more on social media. But what happens when their very name becomes a liability in some circles? As Mark Alexander explains:

The net result in terms of our advocacy for and outreach on behalf of Freedom and Liberty: After 25 years of year-over-year record growth, which increased dramatically on social media platforms since 2010, starting in June of 2020, Patriot Post incoming traffic from those platforms precipitously dropped by more than 80% — the direct result of shadow-banning and suppression of our reach on those platforms. That deliberate and demonstrable suppression of our content necessitated a complete alteration of our marketing model over the last 12 months. As a result, our ranks continue to grow at a good pace.

But there is NO recourse for the violation of our Civil Rights because Republicans in Congress are too busy focusing on “cancel culture,” which is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Cancel culture is a much easier political soundbite, but it is only a minuscule part of the real First Amendment threat. The deliberate systemic suppression of conservative websites on social media platforms would make the old Soviet commissars of truth proud. Until Republicans get beyond the cancel culture soundbites, this suppression will continue unabated.

Mark Alexander, “The Big Tech Assault on The Patriot Post,” July 28, 2021.

Basically, since social media “fact-checkers” have deemed them incorrect, they’ve had to retreat to their former pre-social media process. Recently I decided to help them out a little bit with a second widget on my sidebar, this one more toward the top.

Knock on wood, but I’ve personally not had a lot of issues on social media. We’ll see how long I can press my luck.

On a related note, a June article from Erick Erickson reveals just how much the social media folks have on you. It’s an interesting listen, but I’m still wondering how I get so much stuff on Montana when I’ve never been there nor plan on visiting. Maybe I came across a paper from there in doing my reading?

The leftist grifter

One e-mail list I didn’t drop off was that of a guy named Rick Weiland.

Back in the day I somehow ended up on his list, and for quite awhile I was getting e-mail from him as he ran a few failed campaigns up in South Dakota. (Now watch, I’m going to get all sorts of social media stuff from that state.) But the reason I’ve held on to several of his missives is that it’s a good way to see what concerns the woke candidates of this nation – even in “flyover country.”

In the last couple weeks, he and his “Take It Back” group worried that:

  • Toyota gave political donations to not just Republican candidates, but ones who supported the “insurrection.” (July 5)
  • Social media was not banning ads from fossil fuel companies. (July 11)
  • The Supreme Court was not being packed with liberals. (July 12)
  • We weren’t backing the runaway Texas Democrat superspreaders. (Okay, the last part was my addition.) (July 13)
  • Medicare wasn’t being expanded in states which refused it, meaning the federal government has to force them to. (July 14)
  • Democrats are not standing strong on climate change and “equity.” (July 15)
  • We weren’t going to expand Medicare by adding dental and vision and making it available to younger people. (July 18)
  • President Biden should block all new fossil fuel projects. (July 28)

It’s almost like Christmas every day as I read what far-loony-left idea they have now. I need the good laugh – until I realize these people are serious.

Deluded, but serious. How about rightsizing government for a change? If there’s anything that needs to be taken back, it’s a proper interpretation of the Constitution and role of government as intended by the Founders.

The grifting part comes in where they are trying to petition Medicaid expansion to the ballot in South Dakota and are looking for donations. Why, if people are just clamoring for this, shouldn’t this initiative be significantly volunteer-driven? Between him and Indivisible now becoming a money-begging national scam that’s taken what the TEA Party became and tripled down on it, I wonder how much stimmie cash the unwashed far left has remaining.

(Late edit: how about one more for the road tonight, as they complain this time about the need to rein in Wall Street private equity firms. Any complaint for a buck, I guess, since the pitch was there.)

Back to the home state

Subtitled, when the majority tyrants get pissed. I’ll let Rep. Bryan Shupe explain:

Months ago I created a bill that would allow for no excuse absentee ballot voting in the State of Delaware while requiring that any changes to our absentee process would have to remain in the Delaware Constitution, a 2/3 vote over two consecutive legislative sessions. This legislation safeguards the integrity of our elections by not allowing the majority, either Democrat or Republican, to simply make new voting rules that will benefit them in the next election cycle.

Unfortunately the discussion was not welcomed and leadership has tried to create this as a partisan issue. EVEN WORSE, after the current absentee bill, HB 75, was defeated, my Municipal Voting Rights bill, HB 146, which was on the agenda, was not heard on the House floor.

HB 146, which had bipartisan support, eliminates the requirement for double voter registration for Delawareans to vote in their local elections, expanding voting right across the state. Retaliation is an old game that serves no one.

Rep. Bryan Shupe, “Political games hurt Delaware’s people,” June 14, 2021. Slightly edited for clarity.

Maybe we like the absentee balloting the way it is. I know the other side is adding early (and often) voting in 2022 – it was funny, the reaction I got from the BoE worker at the state fair when I said that as I passed by their booth – yet, they wouldn’t make it easier to vote when they lost in the General Assembly because the GOP got smart and realized they can use their minority for a good cause once in awhile. My fine friends in Laurel shouldn’t need to register for both state and municipal elections – isn’t that voter suppression?

And considering the state is primed for both slow population and economic growth thanks to the policies in place – this according to Dr. John Stapleford, who is the Co-Director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending – maybe we need some reform and elections are a good place to work.

By the way, here are two interesting factoids from Dr. Stapleford:

In Sussex County, net migration accounted for 102% of the population change (deaths exceed births) compared to 67% in Kent County and only 12% in New Castle County. Young people move into counties with good job opportunities while older folks migrate to counties with warmer weather, amenities (e.g., beaches, lakes), and lower taxes…

Sussex County’s net migration will slow as a growing population clogs the roads and the beaches. Regardless, the population growth in Sussex County will continue to add to consumption demand while doing little to boost economic productivity in Delaware. Burdened by strict environmental land use regulations and poor public schools, net domestic out-migration from New Castle County will continue. Ultimately, below-average population growth will constrain future Delaware economic growth.

Dr. John Stapleford, “Delaware Population Numbers Promises Low Economic Growth,” Caesar Rodney Institute, June 24, 2021.

While the state as a whole only grew at 0.9% in population, Sussex County increased 2.2%. (As a trend, the center of population continued its southward march.) And if there are two areas of Delaware which need an economic boost, they are New Castle County and the western end of Sussex County (the U.S. 13 corridor.) Unfortunately, NCC tends to vote against their own interests while the west side of Sussex can’t progress because they don’t have forceful leadership – witness the defeat of local right-to-work legislation as an example.

Finds from the Resistance Library

If there were someone who personifies the concept of resistance, I think I could get Pat Buchanan to qualify. I know Republicans didn’t have a lot of use for him when he was more politically active, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have fans. In reading this short biography, you could surmise Buchanan was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was cool. (However, people tend to forget we can’t speak of Pat in the past tense, since he is still around.)

But even better in my mind is their longer piece on The Great Reset. Doing what I do and knowing some recent experience, this portion of Sam Jacobs’ report stuck out the most:

BlackRock is a private equity firm that has been offering absurd prices for residential homes in the suburbs. They don’t plan to flip them and turn a profit. Rather, the plan is to buy homes at 50 percent above asking with the purpose of transforming these homes into rental properties. BlackRock’s acquisition of the suburbs is part of a larger issue that grew out of COVID-19, but is closely related to the Great Reset – the increased centralization of the American economy…

One company, or a handful of them, who dominate the housing market are dangerous for a variety of reasons. Chief among these reasons is the ability to weaponize this control over housing against critics of the regime. Who needs the government to enact a social credit system when the national landlord has one? Of course, the usual dummies will defend this because it’s being done by a private corporation.

(Also) It is worth briefly noting that the eviction moratorium favors large landlords who can go months or years without an income over smaller ones, who cannot. The moratorium was enacted by the CDC, which apparently now has the authority to control rental properties in the United States.

Sam Jacobs, “The Great Reset: The Global Elite’s Plan to Radically Remake Our Economic and Social Lives,” undated.

Let’s consider this for a moment: we have two paths to prosperity under assault. From the time I was young I was always urged to buy a house and build equity and wealth. Property was an asset that generally held its value and, in a dire emergency, had worth which could be borrowed against. Making people perpetual renters makes it that much more difficult to have something of lasting value since the worth of the property remains with the owner.

Congruent to that is the notion of those who purchase a second home intending to keep it for a rental property – I know several people who have (or are) doing that, and just because there’s an eviction moratorium doesn’t mean there’s a moratorium for owners to pay their own mortgages and upkeep. (Heaven help the landlord who doesn’t address issues in the house, even if the rent isn’t being paid.) It’s understandable that some renters are having issues, but obviously there are enough who are simply taking advantage of the system that it’s become a concern.

So that leaves me with a few items that will be promoted to post status over the coming days. Not a bad evening’s work.

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.

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.

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.