A way to build Delaware manufacturing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The state of a non-state, 2021 edition

Four years ago, thanks to a rant by Delaware writer friend of mine by the name of Chris Slavens, I had the idea come to me of figuring out just how a state of Delmarva would have voted. It turned out we would be perhaps the most purple state in the country based on the 2016 election and how the legislature would stack up.

But because the 2020 election had a home state nominee in Joe Biden, the state of Delmarva (or you could call it New Delaware) would have been a more bluish shade this time around – that was expected. But that trend carried over in other portions of the ballot, too.

There are a few caveats with this, of course: because the three states which share Delmarva have their local elections at different times, the results downballot aren’t necessarily congruent to a real election. But having kept my 2016 spreadsheet around I could pick out some interesting trends.

Still, if Delmarva had a statewide election, the “native son” (even though he was born in Pennsylvania) Joe Biden would have carried the state, although perhaps not as convincingly as one may think:

  • Joe Biden (Democrat) 402,229 – 53.00%
  • Donald Trump (incumbent Republican) 343,352 – 45.24%
  • Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 8,155 – 1.07%
  • Howie Hawkins (Green Party) 3,280* – 0.43%
  • all others 1,950 – 0.26%

*Hawkins was not on the Virginia ballot, which may have lost him about 140 votes based on how he ran elsewhere.

Despite picking up about 23,000 more votes in the twelve counties that make up Delmarva, Donald Trump was swamped by a candidate in Joe Biden who found nearly 80,000 more votes in the heretofore tri-state area – including a hefty 32,000 in New Castle County alone (where Trump gained less than 3,000 votes.) Sussex County chipped in another 17,000 or so extra toward Biden’s total as he outpolled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 effort in all 12 counties. Donald Trump beat his 2016 performance as well in each county, but in some cases it was an improvement of less than 1,000 votes.

If you recall my 2017 article, the only two counties Hillary carried were the largest, northernmost (New Castle County, Delaware) and the smallest, southernmost (Northampton County, Virginia.) Biden kept those in his column but also flipped three that were more in the middle: Kent County, Delaware, Kent County, Maryland, and Talbot County, Maryland.

Because there was no Senate race in Maryland last year, I used the three Congressional races on the Shore as a surrogate for that race as well as the one House race that Delmarva would have. When I wrote this in 2017, I figured Delmarva would have a second seat with the extra population Delaware does not have, but a closer examination of population reveals the 12 counties have 1,474,465 people (per 2019 estimates) and the average Congressional district has just over 750,000. So Delmarva is roughly 50,000, give or take, short of qualifying.

However, if the math did happen to favor the state of Delmarva and there could be two members of Congress, the most logical district split would put New Castle, Cecil, all of Kent County, Maryland, and the northern fringes of Kent County, Delaware into one district (that would be a fairly safe Democrat district despite the heavily Republican pocket of Cecil County) while the rest would be a pretty strong Republican district notwithstanding some sag on the mid-Shore, in Wicomico County, and at the southern end of Delmarva in Virginia.

As for a statewide Delmarva Senate seat, that contest would also go to the Democrats:

  • D total 380,827 – 51.64%
  • R total 345,305 – 46.82%
  • L total 3,814* – 0.52%
  • all others 7,551 – 1.02%

*The Libertarian Party only had a Congressional candidate in Delaware.

In reality, having a much larger than average Congressional district in Delaware with a Democrat incumbent easily outweighed the similar victory Andy Harris picked up in Maryland (in the Eastern Shore half of his district.) Meanwhile, Virginia’s numbers were too small to matter and as a matter of fact had a margin of just 69 votes favoring the Republican. The Democrats only carried three counties of the twelve, but flipping Kent County, Delaware helped put them over the top.

We also elected a governor here in Delaware, which gave the state an advantage in a mythical Delmarva governor’s race that combined the 2020 results in Delaware, the 2018 balloting in Maryland, and 2017 race in Virginia to get the following results:

  • D total 340,257 – 49.94%
  • R total 329,552 – 48.37%
  • L total 4,583 – 0.67%
  • Green total 686* – 0.1%
  • Others total 6,258* – 0.92%

*There was no Green Party candidate in Virginia or Delaware. As for Others, the vast majority of that came from the Independent Party of Delaware candidate.

This was a turnout election, so the advantage went to the Democrats who won Delaware in the 2020 Presidential election over the Republicans who took Maryland in the lower turnout 2018 midterm.

Yet the Democrat success should not come as a surprise: voter registration still favors them by 11 1/2 points:

  • Democrat RV: 468,180 – 42.94% (down 0.3% from 2016)
  • Republican RV: 342,597 – 31.42% (up 0.32% from 2016)
  • All other RV: 279,645 – 25.65% (down o.01% from 2016)

Bear in mind that non-affiliated number includes the 34,281 voters in Virginia who don’t declare a party. But the interesting factoid here is that Somerset County flipped from Democrat to Republican insofar as plurality of voter registration is concerned over the last four years – the only county of the twelve to switch.

The other big change in the last four years would have been a shift in the mythical Delmarva Senate, which would have gone from a 13-13 tie to a 15-11 Democrat control thanks (most recently) to the loss of two Republican seats in Delaware. The ersatz Delmarva House would slide from a 28-26 GOP edge to a 27-27 tie thanks to a Delaware loss in 2018. Talk about swing votes!

But what if there were another way? The one weakness with my method is that I have a lot of small districts in Delaware (less than 25,000 for House and 50,000 for Senate) but much larger districts in Maryland (about 50,000 for House and 150,000 for Senate) and Virginia, where the Eastern Shore is less than half a House district, let alone their Senate. So the state of Delaware is way overrepresented in this model.

Since this is my fantasy, I decided to use a federal model and give each of the counties two state Senators (screw the incorrect SCOTUS decision of Reynolds v. Sims), which means the 28 Senators would likely work out to be a sizeable Republican majority (on the order of 18-10) because New Castle County only gets two. Using a model like Delaware’s, with about two House members per Senator, the House count would be about 29-27 Republican but with a lot of potential flipping in several areas, making local elections become greatly important. This divided government would mean ideas from the GOP legislature would have to be appealing enough for the Democrat governor to become law (since there’s not a vetoproof majority in the House and perhaps not the Senate.)

Either way, it’s a fairly safe bet that, having a state of Delmarva, you would not see the radical left-wing nonsense that seems to be ruining both the state of Maryland (over the Eastern Shore’s objections) and Delaware (because there’s outsized influence from one liberal county that has over half the state’s population.) Even with the slight trend to the left based on 2016-20 results, this state would perhaps have the most interesting politics on the East Coast.

Let’s make a deal: Maryland gets the retrocession of Washington, D.C. while they give up the Eastern Shore to become part of Delaware. (Virginia just forgets about its Eastern Shore half the time, anyway, so if we grabbed that, too, they wouldn’t miss it until it was too late.) We could make the new Delaware into a great state – all without messing up the American flag.

How the First State stacks up

I happened to notice a map in doing some other research that showed states which would be gaining or losing Congressional seats thanks to the 2020 census. As one might expect, Texas and Florida will be big winners while the biggest losers will be Ohio and New York – and for the first time in decades (if not ever) California will not gain a seat this time.

Of course, Delaware, which is still checking in with fewer than a million residents, will remain a puny three electoral vote state since the representative population per district is roughly 750,000 and we’re nowhere close to a million and a half. (Now add in the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to create a greater Delaware and we are right there. That reminds me of a post I need to do, too.)

But this will also be the time that we re-apportion our state into its 41 House and 21 Senate districts. It’s not a clean division, as a handful of districts cut between county lines.

In the Senate, however, New Castle County has 12 full and one partial Senate district after the 2010 count, while Kent County has three full and two partial (sharing one apiece with New Castle and Sussex) and Sussex has four full and one partial. In 2010 one district moved from New Castle to Sussex, and this time Sussex should be due again to have five full districts as they have almost exactly 1/4 of the state’s population. Between Sussex and Kent counties they should have nine full districts, as a small portion of Sussex could be folded into the large fraction of a district Kent should get along with three full districts. That leaves New Castle with 12 full districts, and ideally only the one should be split between Kent and Sussex.

In the House, New Castle has 24 full and one partial district, but that number should decline by one based on the population trends. Sussex should return to 10 full seats (where they were for the previous decade) while Kent will retain the last seven seats.

So like the federal redistricting seems to be shifting southward, so should the state’s. It may help a little in 2022, although the interesting question is which Democrat machine politicians in New Castle will be lumped together in a district created because they gained population more slowly than the rest of the state. (Or, will they finagle the districts to keep an extra one they don’t deserve, which may well be the case.)

I don’t think they’ll do too much with my district since I live close to the corner of the state in a rural area, but it will be interesting to see how they subdivide the more populated section of Sussex County.

The local impact races

Longtime readers of monoblogue may recall that, for years, one of the goals my cohorts and I on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee had was to change our county’s school board from all-appointed to all-elected. (Over the years I had a lot to say about the subject, such as this appeal to the public and this one to opponents.) And there were extremely good reasons for this.

At the time, Wicomico County was one of just a few counties in Maryland still relying on the appointment system, which was a convoluted process for us on those occasions where we had some input: because it was dictated that the party in the governor’s office would have four of the seven WCBOE seats and since turnover was so slow (as members served five-year terms) there were just a few years where we had the task while our friends on the Democrat Central Committee had the other years.

In order to facilitate the process when it was a Republican’s turn, the WCRCC would first find out if the board member could be re-appointed (since they were eligible to serve two terms, and often did – which was one reason turnover was slow.) I think there was only one time where we sought to appoint a non-incumbent in place of someone who could have been re-appointed, but assuming a new person was needed we would screen several applicants and send a name or two to the Secretary of Appointments – who would generally laugh and select the person our local elected officials in the General Assembly preferred (a person who didn’t necessarily go through our process.) It got to the point where the Democrats were demanding they get to interview “our” appointments because they were the ones who made the selection (at the time, Maryland was saddled with Martin O’Malley and his hand-picked Secretary of Appointments.) For all we know they did since it often wasn’t the person we chose who got appointed.

Of course, being in charge for many years meant the Democrats liked the process so they were the ones who resisted the change since it needed enabling legislation in the General Assembly. We had three giant roadblocks for the first eight years I was on the CC: Rick Pollitt (who was County Executive), and Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm Conway. Once all three of them were eliminated in the 2014 election, the process to finally getting an elected school board went very quickly and, despite a last-ditch effort by local Democrats to install a “hybrid” board of five elected and two appointees, the majority of voters in 2016 demanded an all-elected school board. (To his credit, our then-State Senator, Democrat Jim Mathias, was generally – if not necessarily completely – supportive to our efforts.)

Now I’m not going to lie to you and say the school board elections have turned out as I would have hoped, but the accountability is there and the system seems to work well – it was tested early with the sad passing of David Goslee, Sr., who was one of the loudest proponents of an elected school board (as a fellow member of the WCRCC) and barely (as in by ONE vote out of over 6,000 cast) won his seat in the first election – only to die in office shortly afterward. Interestingly enough, including Goslee, three of my former mates on the WCRCC were elected in the first school board balloting in 2018.

All that is a 500-plus word prologue to my main point: here in Delaware, they have long won the fight we waged for a decade or more in Wicomico, electing school boards for years. With that in mind, this May my district in Laurel has one of just two elections in the state where four participants are chasing one (open, since the incumbent chose not to seek re-election) seat. (The other one is in the Brandywine school district, which is much larger population-wise being on the northern outskirts of Wilmington hard by the PA line but has sub-districts. Ours is an at-large seat.) Out of 15 districts in Delaware having elections (a total of 20 elections, including sub-districts) there are just the two elections with four candidates, three with three, eight with two, and seven where just one person filed.

The one thing that I don’t like about Delaware’s system, though, is that it’s rather activist-proof: our five-member board only turns over one person at a time, so it would take three years for a correctly-minded majority to hold sway. Moreover, to make the most rapid reform, you have to win three elections in a row, which eliminates the element of surprise to opponents such as the teachers’ union. A gang election like Wicomico’s can be ambushed rather easily, but this can’t.

Since I voted over the summer in the 2020 rendition (which had three candidates, including the incumbent who lost) I also know this is a non-partisan election like Wicomico County’s school board election is.

My insider friend gave me the skinny on some of these candidates, and I’ve gleaned a little more from briefly scoping out social media.

The first to file was David B. Nichols. And I said to myself, “that name sounds familiar.” Reason being: a D. Brent Nichols ran last year and was the sole incumbent in the entire state to lose. After two terms, apparently voters had had enough but it seems he doesn’t agree – so he’s going to try and fool the voters into voting for new blood? (Honestly, I thought maybe this was his son or something.)

Next in line was Diane M. Snow, who my insider posited was a “come here” based on the phone number provided. It was another name that sounded vaguely familiar, and what stuck out at me in looking her up was her strong support for U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke (presuming it’s the same person, of course.) If so, that is intriguing: I wonder how that translates into school-related issues?

Third is Ivy Bonk, who I was told was a former principal at a local Christian school, so that lends interest, too. I looked her up on LinkedIn and indeed, there is an Ivy Bonk fitting that description so I guess that’s her.

Last is Joseph Deiter, who my source didn’t know well enough to comment on. But a person with that name is on social media and it looks like he’s active as a youth coach.

I think what I’m looking for is a person who will carry a discussion of what public schools really should be. They should be strongly in favor of school choice and money following the child, even if it hurts the local school district in the short-term until they improve enough to compete with private schools and homeschooling. It wouldn’t bother me in the least if they were on the losing end of a lot of 4-1 votes this year so long as they are on the winning end of 3-2 votes two years hence – in other words, they have to be the tip of the spear.

And if that wasn’t enough, the town of Laurel has its own elections on March 25. (I don’t live within town limits, though, so I’m just an observer.) One interesting quirk about its election is that they have a separate registration, which is something they plan on addressing going forward. (In the meantime, anyone who lives in Laurel has until this Thursday to be registered.) Initially four positions were up for grabs, but since two of them only had one filing those lucky souls (both incumbents, by the way) win by acclamation. There is one Council seat (which appears to be an open seat with no incumbent) and the Mayor’s office, where the incumbent mayor has a challenger, still in contention so the whole town gets to vote. Let’s hope they do.

Odds and ends number 98

I promised this a few weeks ago, but here it is in all its glory or whatever. As always, it’s little items which interest me and take up a few sentences.

So what does my e-mail have for me to share? In a monent I will look, but first allow me to reintroduce you to a classic concept.

Sunday evening reading

Many years ago, back in the days even before Salisbury had its blog wars – or had monoblogue – there was a website called Duvafiles. Its purveyor was a local attorney by the name of Bill Duvall, who has since passed away.

Aside from the sometimes-hilarious skewering of various local political figures and other prominent citizens, one of his regular features was indeed called Sunday evening reading – generally a short list of links Bill found interesting or useful.

In this case, there are many times I bookmark Erick Erickson because of how he intersects religion and politics. Unfortunately, having moved to Substack I can’t just link to his pieces but he does keep a limited free archive. (I’m just not quite willing to pull the trigger on $70 a year.)

Another frequent writer whose work sometimes gets buried behind a paywall is former Louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal. He’s not really being mentioned as a 2024 contender but with commentary like this, I think he should be.

I’ve known Michigan-based writer Jen Kuznicki online for several years, but I didn’t know she had a more primary gig as a bartender. It gave her an up-close and personal view of a serious effect from the pandemic.

So since today is Sunday, I happened to see it as a perfect time to bring back the old concept. I think I have replicated it a time or two over the years, so it’s back again like the McRib.

Backing the blue

Another blast from my past came onto my radar screen recently. I’ve known Melody Clarke for several years, dating back to her previous moniker Melody Scalley and her unfortunately unsuccessful runs for office on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She may have a sweeter gig now as a Regional Coordinator of the Heritage Foundation.

Melody alerted me to a new Heritage initiative called the Police Pledge, which simply states that the signatory will “pledge to oppose any bill, resolution, or movement to ‘Defund the Police.'” Most notable among local signers thus far is Congressman Andy Harris, but there are two notables in Delaware as well: my District 21 state Senator (and candidate for Governor) Bryant Richardson, who signed it in his Senate capacity, and District 32 House challenger Cheryl Precourt from Kent County. Both are Republicans, although that’s no shock since all current federal officeholders who have signed are also members of the GOP. Nearly 80,000 private citizens have also signed, insuring the Heritage Foundation maintains a healthy e-mail list.

By comparison, it’s interesting to know just what the Left considers “defunding the police.” According to the Indivisible group, it’s where funding intended for police is diverted to “crisis intervention specialists, social workers, behavioral and mental health experts, food assistance and clean water, housing assistance, (and) school budgets.” But don’t we already pay for a welfare state?

By the way, that group of leftists had its “week of action” recently and touted “over 300 events across 37 states.” There was only one event in Delaware, so I guess they must figure they have this state sewn up. Got to work on that.

On the energy front

I already knew wind power was less reliable, more inconvenient, and more expensive, so this piece just reinforces what I already knew. On the other hand, API’s Mark Green describes some of the issues with getting necessary infrastructure in place.

While Delaware seems to be in decent shape with its natural gas supply pipelines, there is still the matter of trying to get an extended route to supply Maryland’s Eastern Shore constructed. As is often the case, short-sighted “progressives” are against real progress but cheer on pie-in-the-sky boondoggles that do nothing but drive up electric bills and ruin viewsheds.

Party over principle?

It’s an argument that dogged the TEA Party – do you work within the existing two-party system or try an alternative? Unfortunately, the Republican Party did not bend to the right nearly as readily as the Democrats have kowtowed to the radical left-wing flank of its numbers over the last two years, which is one reason why we have the predicament we are in now.

But radio host Andy Hooser, a.k.a. the “Voice of Reason”, begs to reignite an argument that seemed to fade away when the TEA Party morphed into the backing for Donald Trump. He writes:

(After the GOP nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney) I considered leaving the Republican party and going independent or Libertarian. I wanted my conservative voice to be accepted, not shunned in a party that is supposed to advocate for the views and ideas I have…not for me to conform to the party…

I then began my radio career by joining the broadcasting school, and interning for one of the great radio legends Mike Rosen of 850 KOA in Denver, CO. During my tenure with Mike, I had heard him advocate for the “Party over Person” argument, explaining third parties do nothing more than ruin any chance of getting someone close to your ideology…but help elect the person farthest from your views.

It hit home with me.

“The Voice of Reason” newsletter, August 2020

But we tried all this, and it didn’t work. I am living proof: is the Maryland Republican Party any more conservative now then when I began with them in 2006? No, they are even more spineless and have an impotent titular head to boot.

We actually now have an opportunity to open things up on both sides as the Democrats are eating their own and Republicans are trying to be more like Trump. There are openings for the progressives, centrists, and conservatives if they can just figure out a way to break up the R-and-D duopoly that saddles us with too many “lesser of two evils” elections. In Delaware I have six ballot-qualified parties to choose from, and while the system could use a little more work it’s an improvement from what Maryland and many other states are saddled with, like the Maryland Libertarians finally getting ballot access after a grueling ordeal.

“I want to thank everyone who helped petition to get back on the ballot, especially under such circumstances where the state of Maryland insisted we had to collect signatures while making it illegal or very difficult to petition in public for much of 2020,” said Maryland LP chair Bob Johnston in a release. But they are only there through 2022 unless they get 1% of the vote for Governor or 1% of the state’s registered voters. (That works out to about 40,000.)

Meanwhile, Delaware Libertarians break their 0.1% of RV hurdle with ease. I just wish they would focus more on candidate recruitment.

Getting to follow up

I didn’t realize that it had been over 18 months since I wrote a piece for The Patriot Post on civil asset forfeiture, but it proved to be a handy precursor to a lengthier treatise on the subject from Robert Stilson of the Capital Research Center on that very topic.

We still need to work on the principle that gains considered ill-gotten by the standard of suspicion are ripe for the taking. Believe it or not, there are legitimate reasons for individuals to carry large sums of cash and it’s none of the government’s business why they do so unless they want to press criminal charges and prove illegal intent in court. It’s not intended to be a slush fund for local law enforcement.

The long march to the left

One other noteworthy item from the CRC is this profile of the Walmart Foundation. Apparently Sam Walton had little use for charity or politics, but his heirs have gone completely overboard from the port side.

I don’t mind companies giving to charity, but it seems to me that many of today’s corporate conglomerates are operating under the “last to be eaten by the alligator” principle. How about just starving the alligator instead?

Uniquely Delaware

When I first moved to this area in 2004, one thing I quickly noticed was the all-number Delaware license plates. (Meanwhile, my Maryland plate was one of the first to have the old 1AA A11 pattern they used for about eight years before adopting the current 1AA1111 pattern.) Being a small state, Delaware is one of the last holdouts that has such numeric tags. (Many do have a standard prefix, though, as I note below.)

Now my car has a regular old random six-digit number beginning way up in the 9’s as its plate, but if I had a lot of coin I could buy the rights to have a number as low as 4 on my car. (I have to be elected governor, lieutenant governor, or secretary of state to get 1, 2, or 3 respectively. But I have seen #4. On the other hand, I also know someone who has a plate in the 9998xx series. Wonder if there’s a market for high number plates, too?)

The plate PC8 (PC, or “passenger carrier,” is a prefix often found on SUVs) just sold for $175,000. This creates an interesting question for me: do you insure the car or the license plate?

Speaking of Delaware, I wonder how this turned out? If for no other reason, the added traffic snarl of our prospective President having a beach house here is a good reason to keep Donald Trump in office.

And last…

Since I got this done in time, tomorrow night I will try my hand at pre-primary wild guesses and analysis for the Delaware primary. We’ll see if my expertise gained over often winning the (ladies and) gentlemen’s bet over Maryland primary and general election results among my fellow Central Committee members transfers across state lines.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Law Enforcement/Judicial

This is the third part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, law enforcement and judicial are worth 9 points.

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

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

Julianne Murray (R)

I didn’t have anything for Julianne until the day before I did this originally, when she remarked, “As your next Governor, I will never play politics with our public safety and I will never defund our police. The police will have a Governor who they can rely upon to give them the tools they need to do their job and the public support they have earned.”

She added, “I will not support liberal policies that are causing massive retirements of officers here in Delaware. They are retiring because they don’t believe they have backing from the top. Like you, I don’t want 911 calls to go unanswered.”

Since then she’s added the obvious, that she sides with police over the rioters but believes bad cops should be “weeded out.” Overall, it’s a relatively safe answer worth 5 points out of 9.

John Machurek (L)

Machurek has promised on social media to review prisoners and enact criminal justice reform and cannabis legalization. In a previous political run he also vowed to end “no knock” warrants; on the other hand, he is against capital punishment and enforcement of federal immigration laws by state and local police. So he gets just 1.5 points out of 9.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

So far all I have been able to glean out of Kathy is her avocation for family court reform in order to make it more equitable for all concerned. I’ll give her 1 point out of 9 despite being dubious about what is not equal.

John Carney (incumbent D)

Carney’s full 2016 proposal is here. In that he noted:

“We need to deploy our resources with more of a focus on keeping dangerous, violent criminals off our streets. We also need to shift toward rehabilitating non-violent offenders and helping them become employed and productive members of society. Even more important is preventing our young people from turning to a life of crime in the first place.”

Given the recent “peaceful protests” in Wilmington and Dover that turned into rioting, looting, and property damage, it’s apparent Carney has not followed through. So he gets 0 points out of 9.

Updating the standings, we have a new leader, although none of them are setting this competition on fire: Murray 6, Machurek 4.5, DeMatteis 3.5, Carney 0.

This was actually a category where I deferred to the candidates and their views. Aside from enforcing the law fairly and appointing judges who will properly interpret the law according to the federal and state constitutions, I don’t have a really specific “ask” in this category. The next one is slated to be education.

Announcing: the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project

For the third time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location or through this direct link.

Last October I did an interim edition for this session, but because of the truncated 2020 portion it was adapted to a full-session edition with just 4 new votes. I dropped four votes from the 2019 portion to maintain my even 25 votes, with scores revised accordingly. (This actually helped a fair number of legislators.)

And if you were sharp-eyed over the weekend, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” yesterday by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. The nanny state and Trump Derangement Syndrome were out in full force this session, certainly driven in large part by a number of new faces elected in 2018 in both bodies.

The pandemic has radically changed our lives, but aside from a few knee-jerk bills we will probably rue later, the DGA continued our fair state’s march to the left. Unfortunately, no one took my advice last year and became primary opponents to the RINOs who occupy many of the GOP seats in Delaware, nor are most of these legislators going anywhere.

Consider that, out of the 52 seats available this time (10 Senators are in the middle of their four-year term), there are 31 held by Democrats and 21 held by Republicans of all stripes. Out of that group, only two legislators are not seeking another term – notably, Senator Harris McDowell is retiring after 44 years. That brings us down to 50 seeking to retain office (29 Democrats, 21 Republicans.)

On this year’s mAP I have a series of columns that show whether legislators have primary and/or general election opponents. I’m ashamed to tell you that, out of 50 remaining DGA members, 27 of them have no opposition on the ballot at all (11 Republican, 16 Democrat.) Take the remaining 23 and subtract 3 Democrats who only have primary opposition (no Republican opponent), and you’ll see there are only 20 seats in the DGA which could flip between parties.

Currently the DGA is 25-16 Democrat in the House and 12-9 Democrat in the Senate. As it stands right now, barring a miraculous write-in campaign, the House is already 17-9 Democrat and the Senate 9-6 Democrat, so the Democrats only need to win 6 of the remaining 21 elections to maintain control. Thanks to mail-in voting they can cheat their way to that, no sweat.

Moreover, look at who actually drew primary opponents. Eight legislators have one thing in common: all Democrats. Not a single Republican drew a primary opponent. Are you telling me that the GOP rank-and-file is satisfied with the pathetic, milquetoast opposition their legislators provide? Meanwhile, the Democrats who were primaried tend to either be first-term legislators or, more likely, the old guard who is being targeted by younger progressives. The Democrats are very successful at replacing centrists with radicals, but the Republicans just drift leftward to go with the flow.

It’s time for conservatives to put their money where their mouth is. 2022 is an off-year election but every seat is up due to redistricting. That will be the time to step up. And yes, I know the Democrats will be drawing the districts to present themselves the best advantage possible but that can be overcome. We need to right this ship of state because I’m sure you’ll see in two years when I revisit the mAP that things are even worse.

Time to indulge our ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ consumerism

This is the sixth annual edition put out by the folks at the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

This is always a good post for Black Friday.

It’s been several years now since I scratched an itch to promote our American manufacturing by joining a (sadly ill-fated) venture called American Certified. One thing that short foray gave me, though, was a place on the mailing list of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a union-backed promoter of (you guessed it) American manufacturing. Its president Scott Paul is perhaps among those I’ve most quoted on this site, and arguably first among non-Maryland non-politicians.

The AAM has, over the last several years, created what they call their “Made in America Gift Guide.” It actually worked well hand-in-hand with an effort by the Patriot Voices group (the people who keep two-time Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in the news on occasion) called the Made in the U.S.A. Christmas Challenge, but that challenge has seemed to go by the wayside, leaving AAM as the sole purveyor and promoter of American-made Christmas gifts.

This is year 6 for AAM and they picked at least one item from each state – 83 overall by my count. I thought Delaware’s selected entry this year was a little bit off the wall, but then again RAPA ships its scrapple around the country during holiday time (November to February.) It may not be the gift for everyone on your list, but I’m sure there are some who now live in other regions of the country who wouldn’t mind a taste of home.

But in a neat piece of irony (and no pun intended) the selected Maryland gift comes from an Eastern Shore company called Butter Pat Industries. Their claim to fame? Hand-crafted cast iron skillets, which have drawn the attention and raves from cooking aficionados. (That’s why I’ve never heard of them, since I burn water.)

Since I quote him so often, here’s what AAM’s Scott Paul had to say:

Everything on this year’s list is new, and many of the ideas came from readers like you.

We think there’s something for everyone on your gift list. Our team made sure to include a mix of items at a variety of price points.

If everyone in the United States spent $64 of their holiday budget on American-made products, it would support 200,000 new factory jobs! But we know it can be hard to find Made in America goods in big box stores or at the local mall.

By putting together this list, we hope to shine a spotlight on some great companies who support local jobs and their communities — and make it easier for folks like you to find great American-made gifts during the busy holiday season.

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing press release, November 26, 2019.

Of course, they also strive to not repeat gifts from year to year so Delaware’s list has varied nicely over the years: baby accessories, unglazed cookware, handcrafted gifts and furnishings, Jell-O mix (!), and – of course – Dogfish Head ales. (Too bad they didn’t give the late lamented 16 Mile brewery the same love.) The Eastern Shore has also been represented in Maryland’s selection on a couple previous occasions, including Paul Reed Smith guitars.

So if one of your Christmas goals is to shop local, this guide is a pretty good place to begin. And the job you save may be that of someone you know.

Announcing: the 2017-18 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware Edition

For the second time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location, or right here.

One new feature because Delaware has staggered elections is an indicator of whether the legislator is running for another term, and if so what sort of opposition he or she faces. Some have a free ride through the primary, while a select few have no general election opponent.

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. But even the darkest sky has a few stars in it, and one shone very brightly as a beacon of conservatism.

The 25 votes I used were split with nine being dealt with in 2017 and 16 having final action this year. At least one of these bills took nearly the full two sessions to be finalized, but most of them came along earlier this year. In truth, I had the tallying completed several weeks ago but, like in Maryland, I had to wait for the prescribed post-session signing deadline to come and go. It’s my understanding that bills not signed within thirty days of the end of the second-year Delaware legislative session are pocket vetoed, and two of the mAP – DE bills were in that category. By my count, thirty days (excluding Sundays) from the end of session fell on this past Saturday: hopefully I won’t have quick editing to do.

And if you were sharp-eyed last night, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

So, Delaware, here is the voting guide you need this fall – use it wisely.

One place gets it right

If you’ve been keeping up with my infrequent musings of late (admittedly, it’s not hard to do) you’ll probably know that I’ve been keeping an eye on the struggle to bring common-sense, job-creating right-to-work legislation to Delaware – as has the national internet site The Daily Signal.

On that front I bring you some good news and some bad news: first, the bad news.

As a prospective resident of Sussex County, I was dismayed to find out that the County Council there is four shades of gutless. That represents the four County Council members who let the vague threat of lawfare scare them into rejecting a bid to make the county the first in the state and region to become a right-to-work county. Only Rob Arlett, who represents District 5 – a district that takes in much of the southern third of the county, including Delmar, Millsboro, and Fenwick, but not Laurel – voted for the measure he sponsored.

Granted, the ink wouldn’t have been dry on the ordinance before Big Labor found a friendly judge to slap a TRO on it (and that would have been done out of Wilmington or Philadelphia, since there’s not a ton of union presence in Sussex County) but it also would have allowed a second circuit to rule on the law, just as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that covers Kentucky ruled favorably on a county-level law there. (Later, the entire state adopted right-to-work legislation.) Since Delaware is in the Third Circuit and it’s fairly dominated by Democrat appointees, it’s likely they would have ignored the Tenth Amendment and found some excuse to thwart the county’s will. (Bear in mind that the County Council didn’t seem to object on the aims of the law but only the fact it would create a legal hassle.) Yet once two circuits come to a split decision, the next step is the SCOTUS and maybe this is a good time for them to decide on it.

So it was left to the town of Seaford to accomplish what their larger governmental unit could not, approving a right-to-work ordinance in December that was announced today. Good for them, and that was definitely good news.

And it may well be good for them. The timing was probably coincidental, but it was also announced today that a former industrial plant in the city would be getting new life as an intermodal rail and truck facility. So if you figure there’s going to be needed renovations that create construction jobs as well as a handful of jobs for distributing the freight from railcar to tractor-trailer and vice versa, that could be the difference between sitting at home making a wage of zero and working for someone making a reasonably decent wage. It could even be a union shop, with the key difference being that not everyone would be forced to join or pay dues.

Here’s the thing. What unions seem to be most afraid of isn’t the fact that they would have to compete and sell new workers on the benefits of joining, but the prospective loss of political power they would suffer if the number of dues-paying members drops off. Wisconsin is a good example of this: the unions’ dues-paying rolls are off 40 percent since right-to-work legislation passed in 2011.

(As an aside, isn’t it interesting that union members have time to go picket and speak at public meetings? So who is doing their jobs?)

Assuming the Seaford measure isn’t taken to court, which it probably will be for the reasons stated above, perhaps more businesses can help boost Seaford’s bottom line. Unlike a lot of other similar-sized towns, they have the slight advantage of having infrastructure for growth already in place thanks to a number of shuttered or underutilized industrial sites left over from the days it was the “nylon capital of the world.” I’m sure they don’t care if they get back to making nylon, or even if they’re the capital of anything – they just want to thrive.

While Big Labor may beg to differ, even the average union guy on the street knows the true minimum wage is zero. And in an area that cries out for good-paying jobs, why not make yourself as attractive as possible to secure them?

Odds and ends number 84

After resurrecting one long-dormant series over the weekend, today we make it two. It hasn’t quite been a year since I did an ‘odds and ends” and there’s not a year’s worth of stuff, but the creative juices are flowing anyway.

Let’s begin with some good news from our national pastime. If you recall, back in July the Shorebirds made headlines for playing the longest game in their 21-season history, spreading out the drama against the Lexington Legends over two days thanks to a storm that broke over the stadium after 20 innings were in the books. It took just one inning the next evening to settle Delmarva’s 7-6 defeat, but the contest was the Fans’ Choice for a MiLBY Award. It had (ironically enough) 21% of the vote among 10 contenders. (Alas, the actual MiLBY went to some other game.)

The other sad part about that story, besides the folks at the Minor League Baseball site misidentifying us as Frederick: it turned out that one inning of baseball would be all that was played that evening as another heavy storm blew through just at scheduled game time. (I remember it well because I was at work.)

The Shorebirds were also a MiLBY bridesmaid in the blooper department with their September “goose delay.

And while Astros-Dodgers didn’t have the same cachet as the Cubs finally breaking the Curse of the Billy Goat last season, the 28 million viewers of Game 7 completed a World Series where it again kicked the NFL’s ass (as it should, since football season doesn’t start until the World Series is over anyway.) And with the erosion of the NFL’s appeal thanks to the anthem protests and – frankly – rather boring games where fundamentals are ignored, the window of NFL dominance may be closing.

Speaking of things that are dominant, a few weeks back I detailed the effort to bring the sanity of right-to-work to Sussex County, Delaware. An update from the Daily Signal detailed some of Big Labor’s reaction when it came up again. And again I respond – having the choice to join the union is better than not having the job at all.

Delaware was also the subject of one of a series of pieces that ran over the summer and fall from my friends at Energy Tomorrow. They cleverly chose a theme for each of the 50 states and the First State’s July piece was on “the beach life in Delaware.” Now what I found most interesting was just how little energy they produce compared to how much they consume, given they have no coal mines and little prospect of fracking or offshore drilling. And I was surprised how little tourism contributes to their state economy given the beach traffic in the summer.

Maryland’s, which came out last month, is quite different, as it has a companion piece about prosthetics. It obviously made sense with Johns Hopkins in the state, but what struck me was the quote included from Governor Larry Hogan. He’s the guy who betrayed the energy industry by needlessly banning fracking in the state. Unfortunately, Larry seems to suffer from the perception that energy companies are solely interested in profit when the industry knows they have to be good neighbors and environmentally responsible, too.

That’s quite all right: he doesn’t need those 22,729 votes in Allegany and Garrett counties when he can have a million liberals around the state say, “oh, Hogan banned fracking” and vote for Ben Jealous or Rushern Baker anyway.

Regularly I receive updates from the good folks at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, which tends to look at state politics in a conservative manner. But I can’t say this particular case is totally conservative or for limited government:

If Maryland lawmakers want to get serious about combating climate change and reducing pollution, they can simply tax the emission of carbon and other pollutants, thereby encouraging lower emissions and greater efficiency. No one likes a new tax, but it is a much cheaper and more effective way to cut pollution and fight climate change than a byzantine policy like the renewables mandate. Besides, revenue from a carbon tax could be used to reduce other taxes and fund other environmental initiatives. Problem is, though a carbon tax would be good for the environment and human health, it wouldn’t funnel money to politicians’ friends in corporate boardrooms and on Wall Street.

Maryland’s renewables standard isn’t about the environment and human health; it’s about money.

The last two sentences are the absolute truth, but the remainder of the excerpt is a case of “be careful what you wish for.” If the state indeed enacted a carbon tax, businesses and residents would waste no time fleeing the state for greener (pun intended) pastures. You can bet your bottom dollar that a carbon tax would be enacted on top of, not in place of, all the other taxes and fees we have.

Now it’s time for a pop quiz. Can you guess who said this?

Soon, our states will be redrawing their Congressional and state legislative district lines. It’s called redistricting, and it will take place in 2021, after the next Census takes place. That may seem far off, but the time to get started on this issue is now.

This is our best chance to eliminate the partisan gerrymandering that has blocked progress on so many of the issues we all care about. Simply put, redistricting has the potential to be a major turning point for our democracy. But we need to be prepared.

Maybe if I give you the next line you’ll have the answer.

That’s where the National Democratic Redistricting Committee comes in. Led by Eric Holder, my former Attorney General, they’re the strategic hub for Democratic activity leading up to redistricting. In partnership with groups like OFA, the NDRC is building the infrastructure Democrats need to ensure a fair outcome.

Our former President is now involved in this fight for a “fair” outcome – “fair” being defined as gerrymandered like Maryland is, I suppose.

To be honest, we won’t ever have truly fair districts until the concept of “majority-minority” districts is eliminated and districts are drawn by a computer program that strictly pays attention to population and boundaries such as county, city, or township lines or even major highways. With the GIS mapping we have now it’s possible to peg population exactly by address.

And if you figure that most people with common interests tend to gather together anyway – particularly in an economic sense – simply paying attention to geography and creating “compact and contiguous” districts should ensure fair representation. To me it’s just as wrong to have an Ohio Ninth Congressional District (where I used to live) that runs like a shoestring along the southern shore of Lake Erie and was created so as to put incumbent Democratic Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur in the same district – Kaptur won that primary – as it is to have a Maryland Third Congressional District that looks like a pterodactyl. When I was growing up, the Ninth basically covered the city of Toledo and its suburbs where we then lived but as the city lost population they had to take territory from the Fifth District that surrounded it at the time. After the 1980 census they decided to follow us and take the eastern half of Fulton County, west of Toledo – much to my chagrin, since my first election was the one Kaptur beat a one-term Republican. (She’s been there that long.) Since then, the Ninth has been pulled dramatically eastward along the lakeshore to the outskirts of Cleveland, connected at one point by a bridge.

Finally, I guess I can go to what one might call the “light-hearted stack of stuff.” Again from MPPI, when it came to the Washington Metro and how to pay for it, this was a tax proposal I could really get behind. I’m just shocked that it would make $200 million a year.

On that scary note we’ll see how long it takes before I get to the next rendition of odds and ends.

Taking matters into their own hands

So here I am, just thumbing through my e-mail for the day, and I find this on the Daily Signal website.

I would quibble enough to say that Delaware isn’t really part of the Northeast – particularly Sussex County, although many who have arrived there in recent years hail from the states commonly considered the Northeast – but the prospect of a right-to-work law in the heart of Delmarva could be enough to get a second look from prospective employers.

Councilman Rob Arlett introduced the proposed ordinance on Tuesday, according to the Daily Signal report, and it would need the support of two other Sussex County Council members to pass. (All five are Republicans, although not necessarily conservative ones.) The matter will be up for public discussion, per the article by investigative reporter Kevin Mooney, at the next Sussex County Council meeting on October 24. (As an aside, it should also be noted that Arlett was the state chair for the Donald Trump campaign so perhaps he has some of Trump’s business acumen.)

The article also details an interview with Seaford Mayor David Genshaw, who pointed out, “Right to work is a tool we need to compete for jobs. If you compare right-to-work states with non-right-to-work states, you can see where this could mean big gains for Delaware.”

I have a little bit of knowledge about the way Sussex County’s economy works as an erstwhile employee of one of their leading homebuilders. The eastern half of the county, basically from U.S. 113 to the beach but mainly close to Coastal Highway (Delaware Route 1) is booming with new developments, primarily homes that are purchased by retirees from nearby states who sell their $500,000 houses there and buy a $350,000 house in Delaware with the proceeds. On the other hand, the western half of the county languishes and Seaford may be the poster child for those doldrums as it’s littered with older housing stock and vacant storefronts throughout the city. While the population has increased by about 25% over the last 25 years (from 5,700 to the latest estimate of around 7,700) its growth is well off the pace of Sussex County as a whole, which has nearly doubled in that timespan.

So adopting right-to-work isn’t really going to affect the beachfront areas where the jobs are primarily retail, health care, or other service positions. But in those areas along the U.S. 13 corridor (in order from the Maryland line: Delmar, Laurel, Seaford, Bridgeville, and Greenwood) that have some infrastructure in place for new manufacturing facilities, this could be the economic shot in the arm they need to tip the scales their way.

Of course, I’m sure the union apologists will say that all right-to-work does is drive down wages. (Delaware’s minimum wage is currently $8.25 an hour, with legislation pending to eventually raise it to $10.25 an hour by October, 2020.) But the best argument to counter that is to simply remind this person that a person with no job makes $0 an hour, and anything that can bring jobs in will be beneficial to Sussex County. (The rest of Delaware would be unaffected.)

And you can bet your bottom dollar that, if this passes, Big Labor and their leftist allies will go running to the Delaware-based Clinton appointee who sits on the Third Circuit for a restraining order. While Mooney’s story notes a similar law has passed muster in the Sixth Circuit – which heard the case of a Kentucky county passing similar legislation – it’s much more of a crapshoot in the Third because most of its judges were appointed by Democrats and they tend to be more receptive to what passes for logic from the standpoint of Big Labor.

But there ought to be a little bit of interest in the fate of this bill in Annapolis and Salisbury. While Maryland is doing its best to attract new industry, they are still a closed shop state and large manufacturers have tended to prefer locating in right-to-work states. Should Sussex County succeed in its quest it’s incumbent on the state government to respond in kind by allowing the Eastern Shore to be a right-to-work area. (Perhaps our home rule would allow us in Wicomico County to do this, but I tend to doubt that’s the case in Maryland law.)

This is a story that could be huge for local economic development, so it’s a head-scratcher that a Google search for news on “Delaware right to work” didn’t find anything aside from the story linked above. I guess they would rather find other controversy to discuss for the umpteenth time. So maybe my local friends have heard it here first.