Total recall

While the final result wasn’t unexpected, the political news over the summer was the fate of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who survived an effort to recall him Tuesday by gathering over 60% of the vote so far – enough to safely assume he will stick around to finish his term next year and perhaps help propel him to re-election against whichever hapless candidate the California GOP will throw on the ballot. Interestingly enough, had Newsom somehow been recalled, the overwhelming winner of the race to replace him would have been black Republican, columnist, and talk show host Larry Elder. Larry received nearly half the vote in an exceptionally crowded replacement field with one caveat: it did not boast a major Democrat, probably because no connected Democrat would risk crossing the state’s political machine. (Yet the field did have the athlete formerly known as Bruce Jenner, who ran as a Republican.)

But the reason I’m bringing this up is the theoretical one: here in Delaware, Governor John Carney has led his state in much the same way that Newsom has governed California, using the heaviest of hands last year to browbeat individuals and businesses into attempting to stop the spread of the CCP virus. While things have eased up somewhat in recent months, Carney is running a state that is fat and happy with federal largesse at the moment but one that doesn’t seem to be sharing in the economic recovery from COVID all that well. While recall isn’t an option that’s available to Delaware voters, the question is whether such a bid could succeed if it were.

In California, the Newsom recall (which, by the way, was the 55th such effort, with success coming only in 2003 when Gray Davis was recalled in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger) needed about 1.5 million signatures on a petition drive. (The number is 12% of the number of voters who participated in the previous gubernatorial election.) Based on the 2020 election, such an effort in Delaware would need a little over 59,000 signatures – and I think we could pick up a lot of that in Sussex County. One thing that would help is that Carney is not too far along in his term, so whoever succeeds him would have a long time to be in office.

But the question would be twofold, just as it was in California: could a Delaware recall vote of John Carney succeed, and who would run to replace him?

If you listen to the political pundits, they will say that the reason the recall failed (after looking somewhat promising initially) was that once Larry Elder emerged from the field as a contender, the contest became less on Newsom’s record and more like a standard election, which in California accrues a huge advantage to Democrats. If the system were set up in such a way that the Newsom recall would have been done first, then the election to succeed a few weeks later (with the lieutenant governor stepping in for the interim) it may have had more of a chance to succeed. Chances are that, in the end, the LG would have run for the top spot in the second election and won, but the key goal of getting rid of Newsom would have been achieved.

Here in Delaware, there are no shortage of Republicans who would have likely thrown their hat into the ring for such an election, with the top-tier candidates being the last two who the GOP has nominated for governor, Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. But I suspect there may have been a high-profile regressive Democrat who jumped in as well, figuring he, she, or they would motivate their far-left voters to join in the recall effort and rid themselves of a more centrist Democrat. That would make things a lot more interesting and give a whole bunch of heartburn to the Delaware Democrat Party.

In a best-case scenario, the two forces combine with independents who are sick to death of “Governor Carnage” and push him out of office – say 35% of the total are Republicans and independents and 20% are those far-left Democrats. Assuming the GOP didn’t shoot itself in the foot and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by running enough people to split the vote, it would put a Republican in the governor’s chair even if he or she had to face a strongly Democrat General Assembly.

The more likely outcome, though, would find the Democrats having enough party discipline to prevail. That’s one thing they do pretty well, given the fact both their incumbent U.S. Senators have run against a “progressive” candidate recently and crushed that opposition. (By that token the regressives must be happy with LBR because no one with any significant bankroll or support base opposed her in the last two primary elections.) It would probably be something on the order of the California outcome, with over 60% voting against their best interests to retain.

Now if I were still in Maryland and recall were possible, THAT would be an intriguing coalition trying to recall Larry Hogan. I’ll just leave it at that.

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.

A cloudy crystal ball

If the Good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be in line waiting to cast my vote when this comes up. I’m writing this on Monday night.

I guess we will begin with this, since it’s the most important.

I did an electoral map the other night which is the most likely electoral scenario in my eyes. It’s enough for Trump to win but not as much as he did in 2016 because he loses Wisconsin and Michigan in my scenario but gains Minnesota. If not for that and keeping Pennsylvania he would be out.

I also believe the Republicans hang on to the Senate but it may be a 51-49 majority or even 51-50. Can’t see them gaining quite enough to take back the House but there’s a decent chance I may be wrong. I can see enough of a gain, though, to make subsequent special elections meaningful because it may be something along the line of a 219-216 Democrat majority – which will make a Speaker election dicey.

In 2016, Donald Trump lost Delaware by 11 points, but he was the closest Republican when it came to winning a statewide race. I honestly think if he were running against anyone but Joe Biden, he would have an outside chance of winning the state but in this case I think Biden carries by about 15 points – let’s say 56-41, with the other 3% scattered among the Libertarian and Green candidates.

In this case, he won’t be the closest Republican. I think that distinction will go to Julianne Murray, who just may win if this becomes a referendum on John Carney’s handling of the CCP virus and the economy in general. This race may come down to how many votes can be manufactured in New Castle County, but I suspect it will be along the lines of a 50-45 finish, with IPoD’s Kathy DeMatteis getting 3-4% and the Libertarian candidate John Machurek picking up 1%.

Next closest will be Lee Murphy, who isn’t going to lose as badly as Scott Walker did. He will give LBR the closest race she’s had, although with just two under her belt it doesn’t say much. This matchup seems like a 55-43 type of match, with the IPoD candidate Catherine Purcell getting most of the other 2 percent over Libertarian David Rogers.

In both of the other two-person races – lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner – they’ll probably end up about 60-40 in favor of the incumbent Democrats, which is simply because people vote party line and neither Republican had built up her name recognition enough to make a dent. It’s a shame because both seem like they can do the job really well.

Last but not least is our U.S. Senate race. This could either be the biggest shocker in decades or, more likely, a 20-plus point whipping of Lauren Witzke by Chris Coons. There’s already a portion of the Republican base upset with her and I’m not sure Lauren’s push for the union vote is paying dividends. I look at this as a 60-37 race, with Libertarian Nadine Frost getting more of the other 3% than IPoD’s Mark Turley.

In the Delaware legislative races, the lack of opposition put up by Republicans in some races may cost them. There are a couple districts where I can see Democrats knocking off vulnerable state Senators (who often voted with the Democrats anyway) so that they will be up 14-7 going into the full turnover in 2022. In the House, with Democrats already spotted a 15-7 lead in unopposed candidates, it’s doubtful the GOP will improve on its 26-15 deficit. I think they will hold that number.

Looking quickly at Maryland, I think Andy Harris ends up north of 70% against Mia Mason in the First District House race. And to be honest, I have no sense of how that Wicomico County race I wrote about will go. There are more Republicans in the district but the question is how many will buy the horse hockey that the Democrat running is a “conservative Democrat.”

It’s also interesting to note that, based on their daily report, Republicans are already over 30% turnout in Maryland early voting, and in that regard they are crushing Democrats by 13 points. On the other hand, Democrats have returned 81% of their mail-in ballots to the Republicans’ 75%, but there is a wide disparity in their numbers – 49.8% of Democrats requested mail-in ballots while only 25.7% of Republicans opted to vote that way. So if there are long lines in Maryland tomorrow, that’s probably good news for the GOP because more of them have yet to vote – by my quick and dirty math about 57% of Democrats have voted in Maryland compared to 48% of Republicans.

So it’s doubtful that Donald Trump would carry Maryland, but he may come within 20 points and that would be a yuge improvement over losing 60-34 there four years ago.

For Delaware 2020

The other day I saw a photo of the scariest Halloween decoration out there: a white wooden cutout of “2020.” And in this year of the pandemic, we have had quite the state election campaign, haven’t we? Six Republicans running for governor, a spirited primary race for both sides in the Senate, and the inclusion of principled independent bids up and down the ballot have made this a rather unique balloting, particularly compared to previous Delaware elections I covered on a peripheral basis. It’s probably the most controversial run in a decade, since the O’Donnell vs. Castle U.S. Senate primary on the Republican side – a contest from which the rending of the state GOP still shows.

In this race, I have been a free agent of sorts: when I moved to Delaware I decided to call the Constitution Party my home because I’m more in tune with their political philosophy and, frankly, don’t have a lot of use for the Delaware Republican Party based on how they run their affairs and the candidates they support. Alas, the CP doesn’t have the numbers to have a ballot position nor do they have viable candidates running in the state. Thus, I had no primary vote, and the Republican voters of Delaware selected two of the three I would have preferred. (Feel free to cue up Meat Loaf if you desire.)

Besides my local races, which are walkovers because no one but the Republican bothered to file, I have five statewide races to consider: U.S. Senator, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I think I will handle them in the reverse order.

To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about the Insurance Commissioner duties or candidates, except for the fact I thought it unusual that a county sheriff would pivot into the position, as happened in 2016. Trinidad Navarro indeed made that transition, obviously helped by the familiarity to New Castle County voters and the D column he was placed in. (Before becoming a police officer, he was an insurance agent for a time – but considering the length of time he was a LEO, this insurance experience must have been rather brief.) Navarro’s biggest claim to fame since taking office was spearheading the drive to enshrine Obamacare into state law, which means we are stuck with these unaffordable provisions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Pillsbury comes from a different perspective – that of a pediatrician. As a business owner, she’s the one who has to deal with the insurance companies and wrestle with them as an advocate for those in her care. Just from looking from the outside, I believe that rather than having the fox watch the henhouse with a former insurance agent, perhaps it’s time to try a new approach and see if it works. I’m urging a vote for Dr. Julia Pillsbury.

Why do I get the feeling that incumbent Bethany Hall-Long is simply biding her time and waiting her turn as Lieutenant Governor? While the list of lieutenant governors who eventually grabbed the brass ring is still relatively short in Delaware, it includes two of the most recent previous three occupants of the office including the current governor. Anymore that seems like the Delaware Way and that’s not the way we should go, particularly as she’s apparently been a willing accomplice to Governor John Carney’s tyrannical ways.

I think Donyale Hall will be an active player who is also bringing in the perspective of an outsider – unlike her opponent, who spent 15 years in the Delaware General Assembly as her way of working up the political ladder. What do we have to show for the last twenty years she’s been in office? Donyale is placing her emphasis on education, economic advancement, and a streamlined budget – issues that appeal to hardworking Delaware families and not those who simply want their back scratched in return for bestowing the trappings of power. The better choice for Lieutenant Governor is Donyale Hall.

When the current governor John Carney ran for his latest office, he used a carefully cultivated reputation as a business-friendly moderate Democrat to finally win the office he thought he would grab back in 2008, when he lost a bitterly-contested primary to Jack Markell and could not succeed in doing what his “boss” Ruth Ann Minner did – advance directly to the Governor’s chair from being Lieutenant Governor. Instead, he cooled his heels in Congress after Mike Castle bolted for an ill-fated Senate run two years later.

Yet that belief Carney was business-friendly has evaporated in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed as of Friday 680 lives in Delaware – a number that would rank as the 56th largest city in Delaware if it were a town. I certainly don’t want to trivialize these victims, who were beloved by their families and friends, but the pandemic threw many thousands more out of work and continues to do so even as other similarly-situated rural states have reopened and returned to a relative state of normalcy.

That heavy-handed pandemic response was the factor that goaded six Republicans into joining the race to replace Carney. While two of these six had political experience as state Senators – including the candidate Carney defeated handily to win the governor’s chair in 2016 – Republican voters opted for an outsider, attorney Julianne Murray.

Julianne’s platform has been heavy on restoring small business to Delaware, and given these times it’s the right platform to have. Once again, it would be an outsider approach to state governance that may be the kick-start the state needs to succeed and not fall further behind its peers in everything except drawing retirees who take advantage of the three biggest assets Delaware has: inexpensive housing, low property taxes, and no sales tax. For them, the higher income taxes aren’t as much of a burden but for people who want to be productive private-sector employers it’s a lot more difficult.

It’s worth pointing out that there are four people in the race for governor, as it includes Libertarian John Machurek and Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD) hopeful Kathy DeMatteis.

Sadly, Machurek hasn’t run much of a campaign. I’ll grant that the Libertarian candidates don’t get a whole lot of love from the media except for the odd mention here and there and they don’t get invited to the debate stage. But sometimes you have to push the envelope a little bit. Unfortunately this has been true of all their candidates, who you don’t hear a whole lot about despite their good ideas – I’ve voted Libertarian regularly over my lifetime because they present a better alternative to RINO Republicans (or occasionally they are friends of mine.)

On the other hand, DeMatteis seems to be working hard at the race despite a low likelihood of success. She has some interesting and unique proposals, as do others in her IPoD camp. I think the question I have regarding Kathy’s plans – which apparently are spelled out in a book she wrote a few years ago – is why she couldn’t wait to run until she put them into place and succeeded with them? Why is it so important that she get into government to implement her ideas? Donald Trump succeeded in life then ran for President, and we see how that order of achievement worked out well for us.

For these reasons and many more, the best vote for Governor is one for Julianne Murray.

I have not been particularly inspired by the House race this year. It begins with an incumbent whose key reason for being elected in the first place was her gender, race, and the perceived slight of having neither heretofore represent Delaware. Since her election, Lisa Blunt Rochester (or LBR for short) has worked her way leftward on the political spectrum – most recently co-sponsoring a proposal that would serve to eventually eliminate gas-powered cars.

Yet LBR has drawn a motley crew of opponents which included a Republican who was defeated in the 2018 primary by a candidate whose claim to fame was illegally-placed plywood signage, a Libertarian who only recently put up a single-page website as his campaign face, and the IPoD candidate who admits to being an anon in Qanon. Still, I have to vote for someone and it won’t be LBR.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t enamored with Libertarian hopeful David Rogers but I have to hand it to IPoD’s Catherine Stonestreet Purcell for both having the longest name on the ballot and being the most interesting to follow because you really can’t pin her down on left or right. I sometimes wonder if she has a future career as an investigative journalist because she has the perfect undercover job as an Uber driver – she admits to going to places where she feels more likely to pick up well-connected people and just talking to them. Being the (admitted) Qanon participant, she has a deep interest in child trafficking and perhaps the most diverse Facebook friends list in Delaware.

All that is great for human interest, but in the meantime I have to vote for someone. I have to admit I have warmed up a bit to Lee Murphy’s campaign as he has presented a good case for replacing the incumbent to the voters. They should reward Lee Murphy by sending him to Congress.

Last – but certainly not least – is the race for U.S. Senate, preferably to replace the partisan hack Chris Coons, whose campaign has basically been “orange man bad.” With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and subsequent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court we’ve seen this tendency up close and personal.

Again, we have three opponents – although in this case, they are generally of a higher caliber than the House field. The only exception I would take to that is IPoD’s Mark Turley, who really hasn’t been out there and when he is Turley is trying to portray himself as a down-the-middle moderate – one who just happens to make his living in an industry the Senate can really help with ill-advised legislation (renewable energy.)

To be perfectly honest, I was torn in this race. Philosophically I line up best with the Libertarian hopeful Nadine Frost, who is a pro-life Libertarian. (In other words, she gets it.) Yet realistically the one with the best chance for defeating Coons is Republican Lauren Witzke, who has run an uneven campaign filled with landmines of her own making, particularly regarding the passing of the aforementioned RBG. She would be an almost automatic choice except for two places I vehemently disagree with her: one being the idea of incentivizing marriage and family through government policy (as opposed to that of merely not penalizing it) and the other being her stance against right-to-work as some sort of appeal to Big Labor voters – never mind that jobs tend to accrue to right-to-work states when all other conditions are substantially equal. Those are two big strikes against her, and her reaction to RBG’s death was very nearly strike three – somehow she managed to foul it off and stay alive.

Lauren has also managed to do what may be necessary to win and that’s nationalize her race. But then again, so did Christine O’Donnell and – fairly or unfairly – that’s the candidate and race people like to compare this to. This is one of those cases where the head was going one way and the heart the other – until I found the website.

But once I found out Nadine Frost had finally created a website that expanded on the limited information she had come up with earlier, it made my choice easy. If Lauren Witzke can win despite her missteps and big-government populist approach, then more power to her – she will still be a vast improvement over the incumbent.

Voting, however, should come down to who, in your judgement, will do the best job. Because she would be a Senator who thinks almost exactly like I do (right down to some of the phrasing, which makes me wonder if she reads my website), I have to vote for Nadine Frost for Senate. You can blame me if Lauren Witzke loses a close race, but thanks to a few self-inflicted political wounds I honestly don’t think it will come down to that.

So to recap, don’t just vote the straight GOP ticket:

  • U.S. Senator: Nadine Frost (Libertarian)
  • U.S. House: Lee Murphy (Republican)
  • Governor: Julianne Murray (Republican)
  • Lt. Governor: Donyale Hall (Republican)
  • Insurance Commissioner: Dr. Julia Pillsbury (Republican)

I haven’t decided if I’ll do a Presidential endorsement or not. Maybe I’ll make it formal this week, but I have one other race I want to discuss that’s not a Delaware race.

Prescient picks

You likely remember I pulled out my crystal ball and took a somewhat educated guess at how the Delaware primary elections would turn out. If we were doing the old (ladies and) gentlemen’s bet at the WCRCC, I might have vacuumed my fellows’ wallets once again – I even got the order of the GOP governor’s race correct. But there’s more analysis to come.

I’ll begin with the bonus:

My first bonus prediction: at least two sitting Democrat members of the Delaware General Assembly lose in the primary. I can’t tell you just who but I suspect at least one will be a veteran member who loses to a more “progressive” Democrat.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Good thing I said “at least” because it turned out that four lost: Senator David McBride of District 13 and Representatives Ray Siegfried of District 7, John Viola of District 26, and Earl Jacques of District 27 all fell by the primary wayside – and only Viola’s was close as he lost by 43 votes. McBride went down by about 5 points, while the other two cratered to double-digit defeats.

I don’t expect (U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Governor John Carney, or Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro) to lose in the primary to Jessica Scarane, David Lamar Williams, Jr., or Kayode Abegunde, respectively… But watch the margins: anything less than a 50-point win by the incumbents would indicate their support is soft.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Arguably, Coons is within the margin of error of being “soft” since he only won by a 73-27 margin. He could see some percentage of Democrats stay home on Election Day as well as an erosion of Big Labor support as his GOP opponent wages her populist campaign – more on that in a bit. It’s also interesting that his percentage among walk-ups was 13 points lower than from mail-ins.

Even more soft support goes toward Trinidad Navarro, who only won his primary 64-36. Then again, he wasn’t first in alphabetical order and Insurance Commissioner is a race few pay strict attention to. Interesting to me is the fact Kayode Abegunde was somewhat competitive downstate, which suggests it’s a winnable race for a Republican who draws moderate Democrat votes. And in this case, there was only a six-point spread between in-person and mail-in.

On the other hand, Democrats seem to be foursquare for John Carney since he won by a lopsided 85-15 margin. It’s going to be the battle of the nanny state full of Karens taking on the freedom-loving people of the South in Slower Lower Delaware. (Like Coons, though, take note that the margin was quite a bit closer from in-person votes than mail-in – 11 points, to be exact.)

However, with the exception of the U.S. House, it’s possible (and perhaps the most likely outcome) that we could have an all-female GOP contingent come November.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Turned out it was the outcome. We have a Democrat party with three white guys, a white woman, and a black woman taking on four queens (in a playing card sense.) Alas, Lee Murphy isn’t Jack Murphy because that would be a natural. Thanks to the primary we have more women remaining for November than men, so I want to hear no more whining about how women are underrepresented.

I’ll begin with the GOP House race… Two years ago Murphy lost in stunning fashion to the tree-killing campaign of one R. Scott Walker, but I think this time Lee gets the brass ring. It feels like a 60-40 type race to me, so I’ll figure Murphy 61, Morris 39. I would not be surprised, however, to see this be a 10-15% undervote compared to the governor’s race.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

I was well off on this one in that Murphy wasn’t as uninspiring as I believed. Not only did he outperform my guess by a full 13 points (winning in a crushing 74-26 rout) but his race’s undervote was only about 6% compared to the governor’s race.

Another two-person race is the U.S. Senate race, which pits Lauren Witzke against James DeMartino… This is going to be a test to see just how effective a party endorsement can be. I suspect it’s going to be enough for DeMartino to make it a close race but I think Lauren will win in the end by a 52-48 margin. Witzke may have to win this race without much more than token support from her party – there may be a “Republicans for Coons” group out there if she wins because she ties so closely with Donald Trump and surely Delaware has some percentage of #NeverTrump rear guard people out there.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

At one point in the count I thought DeMartino was going to pull the upset. It’s very interesting the disparity between mail-in votes and ballots cast in person in this race. If you looked at the absentee results, DeMartino was comfortably ahead as he got 59% of those cards, so early on it was a race he was leading. Unfortunately for him, the majority of Republicans voted in person and Lauren received nearly 62% of the in-person vote. (I don’t know how much in-person campaigning he did on Election Day but I guess Lauren was all over and it paid off.)

It turned out I was about five points off as Witzke won 57-43. As for the remaining prediction, I’m already seeing the media angle as the Christine O’Donnell theme was prevalent in the coverage as was commentary about Qanon, which obviously is going to become an issue in this race. The slant is in: Witzke is the “controversial” candidate with views out of the mainstream while Coons is the moderate, bipartisan voice of reason – never mind his campaign has been crying “orange man bad” on a daily basis.

And last but not least, the big one:

But I think the turnout for this election will be much better than the usual 15-20 percent… This race has a ton of interest so I believe we may get 50,000 total votes and I don’t see Walker receiving more than about 6-8,000 of them.

If Walker indeed comes to that estimate, he will easily pass two of his competitors – David Graham, who I see at about 5% of the vote, and David Bosco, who seems to be two to three points higher than that. Those kind of numbers may be enough to vault Walker to third place past Bryant Richardson.

All this leaves about 60% of the vote to be split somehow between Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. Colin got 21,150 votes in his 2016 primary and if he does it again he wins going away…

I know Bonini is hitting the direct mail hard but there’s probably a good percentage of voters who mailed in ballots. Moreover, there’s perhaps the thought that a rematch of a 2016 race where the GOP got smacked by 20 points up and down the line isn’t appealing to these victory-starved voters. So this is how I see the gubernatorial primary coming out: Murray 30, Bonini 28, Richardson 15, Walker 14, Bosco 8, Graham 5.

“Fearless Forecasts,” September 14, 2020.

Overall turnout was 32.26%, which is about unheard of for a Delaware primary. Perhaps having the mail-in option gooses turnout as well, so I don’t think the practice is going away anytime soon.

Scott Walker, in fact, received 3,998 votes. Why I don’t know. And for the longest time he was running neck-and-neck with Bryant Richardson for third place, as I predicted. In fact, I had the order of finish just right – and aside from the top two being so far apart, rather proportional to my guess.

But had the balloting been exclusively mail-in, Colin Bonini would have had his rematch. Out of that group of voters, he won by 6 points but was swamped enough by those who actually showed up to vote that he lost by 6 points. And given the fact that Julianne Murray was the one who got most of the benefit from the open polls – David Bosco also increased his share slightly from mail-in to in-person – it appears that she got most of the late-deciders. I believe the media coverage (and campaign funding) pushed it into a two-way race and voters who were going to go for Richardson or Walker saw the futility of their vote and decided on the outsider. I think that’s why I overestimated their share, although proportionately I wasn’t in all that bad of shape – everyone outside the top two ended up with about half of what I assumed they’d get, except Bosco. Had Dave had more money, he may have pulled enough votes from his fellow outsider Murray to throw the election Bonini’s way – but we will never know.

The only thing I really messed up was in saying Bonini’s 2016 vote total would hold. Murray beat it by about 1,700 votes so I guess I’ll have to buff out that chip in the crystal before November comes.

Fearless forecasts

As my Delaware friends are likely well aware, tomorrow is primary day in the state: Republicans and Democrats will (or perhaps already have, given the misplaced emphasis on mail-in balloting) narrow down their respective fields for Governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House. As an added bonus, Democrats around the state will get to eliminate one candidate for insurance commissioner and several contestants vying in primary battles for local legislative races. (My first bonus prediction: at least two sitting Democrat members of the Delaware General Assembly lose in the primary. I can’t tell you just who but I suspect at least one will be a veteran member who loses to a more “progressive” Democrat.)

Since I’ve already began with the majority party in the state, I may as well continue working through their races. All five statewide Democrat candidates are seeking another term; however, only Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester escaped a primary challenger. The three men running again (U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Governor John Carney, and Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro) weren’t so fortunate.

I don’t expect any of them to lose in the primary to Jessica Scarane, David Lamar Williams, Jr., or Kayode Abegunde, respectively. (Interesting that Democrats would keep three white men and reject a woman and two people of color, eh?) But watch the margins: anything less than a 50-point win by the incumbents would indicate their support is soft. The question at that point would be whether it’s because the incumbents are insufficiently left-leaning for the Democrat electorate or whether rank-and-file Democrats don’t like the incumbent and would be open to the right challenger.

(Worth noting: although the Green Party appears to have ballot access in Delaware, there are no candidates who have filed under that banner. So there is nothing to the left of the Democrats on the November ballot.)

And then we have the Republicans. Out of those same five statewide offices, it’s once again ladies who have the clear path: Donyale Hall for lieutenant governor and Dr. Julia Pillsbury for insurance commissioner. However, with the exception of the U.S. House, it’s possible (and perhaps the most likely outcome) that we could have an all-female GOP contingent come November.

I’ll begin with the GOP House race, which is going to be pretty much a name recognition race. Thanks to some health issues and a lack of funding, Matthew Morris is probably not well-known enough to defeat Lee Murphy. Two years ago Murphy lost in stunning fashion to the tree-killing campaign of one R. Scott Walker, but I think this time Lee gets the brass ring. It feels like a 60-40 type race to me, so I’ll figure Murphy 61, Morris 39. I would not be surprised, however, to see this be a 10-15% undervote compared to the governor’s race.

Another two-person race is the U.S. Senate race, which pits Lauren Witzke against James DeMartino. If campaigns were based on how hard candidates worked, it would be no contest – and it still may not be. But I get a lot of undertones out of this race, for two reasons.

One is the Christine O’Donnell factor, which I believe was the reason Lauren did not get the GOP endorsement despite outraising DeMartino and arguably building a lot more name recognition in the state. I believe the Republican party regulars were spooked by a candidate who espoused populist rhetoric like Donald Trump and came from a very questionable background. (In that respect she was similar to Matthew Morris, but his background is not nearly the factor in his race.)

The second is a platform which would, in some aspects, be perceived as well to the right of average Delaware voters yet also depended on a constituency not accustomed to voting GOP: blue-collar union workers. In fact, that comes in more as a general election strategy because many of those workers remain as registered Democrats and can’t help Lauren get through the primary.

This is going to be a test to see just how effective a party endorsement can be. I suspect it’s going to be enough for DeMartino to make it a close race but I think Lauren will win in the end by a 52-48 margin. Witzke may have to win this race without much more than token support from her party – there may be a “Republicans for Coons” group out there if she wins because she ties so closely with Donald Trump and surely Delaware has some percentage of #NeverTrump rear guard people out there.

And then we have the governor’s race on the Republican side.

My friend Chris Slavens wrote a social media post with his thoughts on the GOP race and his analysis is very sound. In fact, R. Scott Walker is a wild card in this race since he did pick up over 19,000 primary votes for Congress last time around.

But I think the turnout for this election will be much better than the usual 15-20 percent and people who voted for Walker last time out in a two-person midterm race against an uninspiring candidate may have a different choice in mind this time around. This race has a ton of interest so I believe we may get 50,000 total votes and I don’t see Walker receiving more than about 6-8,000 of them.

If Walker indeed comes to that estimate, he will easily pass two of his competitors – David Graham, who I see at about 5% of the vote, and David Bosco, who seems to be two to three points higher than that. Those kind of numbers may be enough to vault Walker to third place past Bryant Richardson.

All this leaves about 60% of the vote to be split somehow between Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. Colin got 21,150 votes in his 2016 primary and if he does it again he wins going away. But I don’t see that because, while Lacey Lafferty in 2016 was a sort of precursor to the type of candidate Lauren Witzke is this year (in a completely different race), Julianne Murray is not running a populist Trumpian campaign. Traditional Republicans, especially in Sussex County, may also peel off their former Bonini support to his fellow Senator Richardson – I think Bryant’s presence in the race takes away far more from Bonini than anyone else so you can take that 15% out of Colin’s column. If so, suddenly Bonini’s at 27% and he’s a loser.

I know Bonini is hitting the direct mail hard but there’s probably a good percentage of voters who mailed in ballots. Moreover, there’s perhaps the thought that a rematch of a 2016 race where the GOP got smacked by 20 points up and down the line isn’t appealing to these victory-starved voters. So this is how I see the gubernatorial primary coming out: Murray 30, Bonini 28, Richardson 15, Walker 14, Bosco 8, Graham 5.

We’ll probably know late Tuesday night whether my crystal ball is prescient or cloudy. But I’ll be glad to clear my sidebar and start working in other candidates to my dossiers.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Intangibles

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

This 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.

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

On the GOP side, Julianne Murray raised the most money pre-primary and done something insurgent campaigns by outsiders need to do: take steps to nationalize their race. Picking up an endorsement from Newt Gingrich (who is no stranger to the First State) is interesting but if it adds a little jingle to her bank account and a few hundred votes to her column on primary day it will be worth it. (Since I originally did this, she’s also picked up endorsements from former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley and the 60 Plus advocacy group.) Initially I thought highly of her but gave my GOP endorsement to Bryant Richardson – Murray was my second choice.

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

“We need to preserve voter integrity. It is disappointing that Carney signed the vote by mail bill which will jeopardize the integrity of our elections.” Did you expect otherwise from a Democrat?

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

If you want a small business advocate and fighter for Constitutional rights, vote Julianne Murray. All in all, her campaign is probably the best-run among the GOP candidates so I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the leading vote-getter, even ahead of President Trump. Here’s hoping it will be enough. I’m adding 5 points out of 10.

John Machurek (L)

Machurek is no stranger to running races: he ran for New Castle County sheriff in 2018, for attorney general in 2014, and for the state house in 2012 – a race I gleaned quite a bit of information from. And that’s part of the problem, as I was hoping he would make more of a name for himself and put additional effort into his run. Obviously it’s discouraging when you can’t exceed 11% in a race, but there’s only one way for the Libertarians to gain traction and that’s marketing your ideas to the full extent possible.

“I would urge those who need or feel the need to stay home to make that decision for yourself. You do not need a bureaucratic machine to tell you how to best conduct your life.” Exactly. I also like his insistence on voter ID, no limits on campaign finance, and a redistricting commission (which would hopefully have independent/minor party participants. Maybe they all should be.)

If he had put more into the race, he certainly has the roots of some good ideas for the state. Add 2 points out of 10.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

Unlike Machurek, I think Kathy is working really hard at this race – enough so that she could be a potential spoiler for Murray. However, this would simply come from the independent “it’s time for a change” crowd because a conservative might not go for a message of “Transform Delaware into a more innovative and culturally advanced environment.” I guess it depends on what you consider cultural advancement.

The only thing that keeps me from giving her more points is the slight sense of hucksterism I sense as she has told us her plan is in a book she wrote, and the products she’s talked about as bringers of manufacturing jobs are her own. Kathy may be the giving sort, but there is a sense of self-serving beyond the idea of public service as governor.

Given her limited resources, Kathy is running a smart campaign. I’ll give her an additional 5 points out of 10.

John Carney (incumbent D)

For any good Carney may have done, it’s been ruined by his overreaction to the CCP virus. He reminds me now of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz from the old Phineas & Ferb cartoon.

He successfully portrayed himself as a moderate Democrat to secure the governor’s office, but he has allowed his party’s left flank to advance its agenda at the expense of ordinary Delaware citizens and we can’t abide that. To his credit, however, he has run a very low-key campaign in light of the situation. In that sense, I will not deduct the full 10 points as deserved but deduct 1.5 points to bring him back to nothing.

So we’ve come to the end, and here are the final standings: Murray 41.5, Machurek 34, DeMatteis 20.5, and Carney 0.

I’ll do a formal endorsement on Sunday, October 18.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Role of Government

This is the eighth, penultimate part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, the role of government is worth 14 points. 

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.

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

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

The question is who will have the check? I don’t know if we can trust the Delaware General Assembly as currently comprised. I’m actually afraid, absent a GOP majority in the DGA, that she will find out just how hamstrung she really is once she uses her executive power to strip away the most egregious violations of rights based on John Carney’s pandemic executive orders. Do you think they would have let a Governor Colin Bonini get away with anything he proposed in 2016? I give her 6 points out of 14.

John Machurek (L)

I have always liked certain aspects of the libertarian point of view; however, there are some detrimental portions as well. Cue Machurek saying recently on social media, “Philsophically I’m an anarchist. However, the government has a long way to go before we get to the point that we discuss having a government or not.” To me, that’s akin to the two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner – with no rules, we devolve to a Darwinian social order.

“As a libertarian I stand for each individual’s liberty and pursuit of happiness,” he also claimed. “I am standing with all who have been victims of injustice and will work my campaign to make sure voices of liberty are heard and protected in Delaware.” Worthy of note: since he is pro-choice, he cuts out the very life that is required to enjoy the liberty and pursuit of happiness. It’s the difference between what I gave his fellow Libertarian Senate hopeful Nadine Frost and the 4 points out of 14 I’m giving to John.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

She began her platform well on this subject by promising to “Curtail abusive government powers to protect Constitutional liberties.” She also vowed to “Protect our most vulnerable people.” Okay, at a state level I can maybe buy that. But she lost me with “Establish and maintain a fundamental human rights code.” I sort of think there already is, and it’s called the Bible. But that’s just me.

I do like her idea about bringing initiative, referendum, and recall to Delaware as we are the only state that has none of those remedies available to us as I recall. So I’ll give her 4 points out of 14 as well.

John Carney (incumbent D)

He said this four years ago: “As a former Secretary of Finance, John knows we can’t continue with business as usual. Increased spending in areas like health care are outpacing our ability to afford it, and crowding out other priorities like improving education and creating jobs. John believes it is time for a “reset” that takes a hard look at spending and revenue. If Delaware state government is going to continue to offer the services it provides to a growing population, and expand in areas where it’s weak, it will need to be more efficient and better able to eliminate unnecessary spending.”

I haven’t seen that effort. And need I mention how he’s become a dictator to the extent that six Republicans and two smaller party members lined up to run against him? He gets o points out of 14 because I don’t think he gets the proper role of government at all.

Standings: Murray 36.5, Machurek 32, DeMatteis 15.5, Carney 1.5.

That, then, is my impression of how each candidate sees the role of government. I’m going to look at intangibles in the last part.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Taxation

This is the seventh part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, taxation is worth 13 points. 

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.

One would imagine that our contenders are in favor of lowering taxes. But surprisingly not all have brought up the issue to a great extent, and they are addressing several ways to lower the burden.

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

Julianne Murray (R)

Unlike her entire bill of rights devoted to small business, Murray has platitude-speak down when she says she will, “Cut taxes and regulations. Nothing hurts job growth like higher taxes and endless regulations. As our next Governor, Julianne Murray will lower the tax burden and streamline regulations to encourage entrepreneurship.” Well, you can’t lower the sales tax but I’ll bet there are some business taxes they’d like repealed. Because she has at least a goal and purpose, I’ll give her 6 points out of 13.

John Machurek (L)

John would lower taxes, too, but he doesn’t really go into where, why, or how. It’s a missed opportunity. 3 points out of 13.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

This is another issue Kathy has been silent on, unless it’s in her book/plan that I have not read yet. No points.

John Carney (incumbent D)

Four years ago John said, “If we need to raise more revenue, we need an approach that promotes a growing economy, that’s fair to all taxpayers, and that minimizes the burdens on those least able to pay.

As governor, John will bring that same leadership to a bipartisan effort, working with business and other community leaders, to get our budget back on track without sacrificing the quality services that so many Delawareans depend on.”

So I guess I shouldn’t have said our contenders are in favor of lowering taxes, because we’ve found out through experience that John did not. When it came to the choice of tightening belts or extracting revenue, too often Carney chose the latter. You can see this in the next paragraph. 0 points out of 13.

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

Standings: Murray 30.5, Machurek 28, DeMatteis 11.5, Carney 1.5.

My final two categories await, with the role of government as I perceive each candidate adopting it coming up next.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Job Creation

This is the sixth part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, job creation is worth 12 points. 

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.

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

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

Julianne Murray (R)

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

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

On the whole, though, the platform is well spelled-out and worth 10 points out of 12.

John Machurek (L)

There is an elegant simplicity to what John is advocating for. In fact, in 2012 he said he would “allow the free market to decide what’s best and to regulate itself and allow people to make choices for themselves. I know this sounds like a simple solution, but it really is that simple.” Yes, it is. We don’t need overly restrictive licensing, so he would get rid of it. He would lower corporate taxes as well. “I feel the government should not pick winners and losers,” he said eight years ago. “I feel giving money for job creation would be exactly that. We are broke and don’t have money to hand out.” It’s a great approach that’s just slightly behind Murray’s only in the sense that it’s not as fleshed out. 9.5 points out of 12.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

Much of her platform is devoted to this subject: Kathy would “end megacorporate welfare” and “revitalize Delaware’s economy towards dynamic sustainability.” (Whatever that means.) She also joins her peers in wishing to cut bureaucratic red tape for small businesses, and vowed to travel the country to bring businesses to Delaware.

Here’s the interesting part though. “I am the only candidate with a twenty two year history of hands on healing. The only candidate that built products to be manufactured.

While other candidates say they will bring manufacturing back, I am the only one that can actually do it. Why? Because they are my products to give.

No other candidates running for Governor has a list of product that can be put into production insuring jobs in three of its counties.”

The question, of course, is this: if she is correct that this product is a scalable product and it’s destined for success, what are the ethics in using a state office to enrich herself at the expense of any would-be competitors? It seems to me she should be able to establish this without needing to be governor.

For her, I will split the difference and grant Kathy 6.5 points out of 13.

John Carney (incumbent D)

The initial 2016 economic plan Carney presented is here. In part, he promised:

We need to provide Delawareans with well-paying middle class jobs of the future as we strengthen our current economic base in manufacturing and financial services.

I want Delaware to not only be the First State when it comes to incorporating a company, but also the First State when it comes to growing a company. That means having a thriving financial services sector that creates jobs in technology. It means keeping our uniquely talented workforce in the fields of bioscience and sustainable chemistry. And it requires a robust entrepreneurial economy…where Delawareans are developing new technologies to bring to the market place.

The role of government in promoting a strong economy is to create an environment where businesses can thrive and invest in Delaware. That means moving faster than any other state when it comes to helping locate or grow a business that will create good jobs. And it includes a regulatory environment that is fair, thoughtful and timely. Delaware’s current regulatory structure rests on a 40-year-old patchwork of inconsistent and often inefficient mechanisms that I would modernize and streamline as Governor.

John Carney economic plan, 2016

Of course, John was muddling along until he blew any and every advantage he may have gained by unnecessarily shutting down the state during the pandemic. Since this is about job creation, he gets 0 points out of 13.

All I know is that this is a group of people who want the working folks of Delaware to prosper. (One thing I’ve not seen touched upon, though, is right-to-work legislation.)

Standings: Machurek 25, Murray 24.5, DeMatteis 11.5, Carney 1.5

Once we get the prosperity my next category asks if they’ll get to keep it as I talk taxation… if the candidates are willing to volunteer their plans, that is.

2020 gubernatorial dossier: Second Amendment

This is the fifth part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, Second Amendment issues are worth 11 points. 

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.

It was an event I thought about making a post out of, but in this era of the CCP virus (h/t The Epoch Times for that moniker) I thought depicting a mostly maskless event wouldn’t go over well. Regardless, back in August I was at a local gun club for its family day. And one thing I quickly learned was that it was a place with hot and cold running politicians – no surprise with a primary coming up.

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

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

Julianne Murray (R)

Of all the Republican gubernatorial candidates at this event, Julianne had the most formal setup and was engaging with voters, including me:

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

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

This is intriguing to me on two levels. I notice the way she states the proposition gives her a little bit of wiggle room, but, more importantly, there’s the phrase, “the real source of the problem.” I can’t fathom if she doesn’t agree with the adage “an armed society is a polite society” or if she really wants to begin a one-woman, one-state war on the cultural rot and lack of respect for life that may well be a root cause of gun violence. Moreover, if we don’t have a tyrannical, overreaching government, the need for Second Amendment protection on that front abates. That’s why I find this interesting. I have yet to listen to a three-hour (!) podcast with Murray so I hope to get more answers there. In the meantime, I split the difference and give her 5.5 points out of 11.

John Machurek (L)

While he promises not to enact any new gun control measures, it’s somewhat telling that John is for “Constitutional” carry but not concealed carry. I don’t see him as a force to reverse the excesses of the current regime, so he gets just 3 points out of 11.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

Unfortunately, she seems to be silent on this important subject. No points.

John Carney (incumbent D)

In 2016, John noted he would be “directly confronting” the issue of gun violence by working with other states, making sure schools have up-to-date safety plans, “confronting the issue of mental health and gun access,” and restricting the sale of so-called “military-style” weapons.

Barely a year later, Carney promised, “In the coming weeks, my team will work closely with lawmakers to craft legislation that would prohibit the sale of assault-style rifles in Delaware,” in order to “make our state safer.” (I guess he didn’t specify who he was making it safer for, but it turns out he was doing so for criminals.)

It’s this damage to Second Amendment rights that our next governor has to undo. 0 points out of 11. If I could give him negative points I would.

Standings: Machurek 15.5, Murray 14.5, DeMatteis 5, Carney 1.5.

I don’t need to hustle to find more from the candidates on the next subject, which will be job creation.