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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pride before a fall?

It starts a day or two before. The rainbow motifs come out of hiding, getting ready to blossom on the first of June to scream out: it’s Pride Month! Americans are getting used to this product of the twenty-teens now, as companies big and small beg their indulgences from the most radical one percent of the maybe 1/25 of the population that is attracted to the same sex – or perhaps both sexes, or perhaps neither. (They all seem to be lumped together now.)

So say what you will about 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke, but she chooses to be the tip of the spear when it comes to controversy. Pride Month was hours old when she reclaimed it as Christianity Month, saying “It’s June 1st and a time to remember EVERYTHING Jesus has done for us. Glory to God!” Over 600 comments and counting later, she’s done quite well at bringing out that fraction of a percent to comment on her social media.

I don’t know why it is, but when I think of the so-called Rainbow Mafia – the ones who refer to the “sky fairy” and flaunt their sinful nature as that radical fraction of an already small population, I picture in my mind a passage from Romans 1:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 1:21-32, KJV.

On the other hand, many LGBT people profess to be Christians, which I’m certain puts them in a quandary. Even though, myself included, we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God, they would seem to run more afoul of leading a Christ-like life given how they choose to be the subjects of the above passage. Be gentle with them.

Perhaps most infuriating to those who would prefer a more modest and moral world, though, is the willingness of entities large and small to kowtow to the Rainbow Mafia by slapping rainbow colors on their logo or having a “Pride Day.” Yet isn’t it our task as Christians to be humble and have humility anyway?

I suppose I look at it this way. I’m going to live my life as I would anyway whether people put up rainbows or not, and just pray that those who feel they have to make a show of their sin realize the error of their ways before it is too late. In this case, I guess I turn the other cheek. If it’s Pride Day at the ballpark or wherever, I’m just not going to be there. Others can knock themselves out because I don’t think I have the wherewithal to be silent and non-confrontational on such an occasion when it’s shoved in my face. I’ve run into that issue before when it comes to gay “marriage.”

Pride, after all, is a deadly sin – so why should we as Christians fall into that trap? We can make whatever month we want our personal month for Bible reading and fellowship with other believers.

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.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

Odds and ends number 102

I’m bringing back those chunks of blogging goodness that take anywhere from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs.

A surplus? Give it back!

It’s been a tough year for state governments around the nation, and Delaware was no exception. But there was a surprise when the First State beancounters came up with the numbers at the end of the year – we had a $347 million surplus thanks to record real estate transfer taxes and very successful IPOs.

Of course, just because we have an extra $347 million doesn’t mean the state won’t have plans for the money that don’t involve returning it to the hard-working taxpayers of Delaware. But I also noticed this nugget: “At one time, far more people came into Delaware to work, but it’s been closer to 50-50 recently, officials said Monday. And many of those who leave Delaware, but are now working at home, have higher paying jobs than those coming from out of state to work in Delaware.” I’m one of those 65,000 who leave Delaware to work, which was the reverse of where we were before we moved when my wife was one of the 65,000 who came into Delaware to work. Neither of us have a typical “work from home” job (although mine is a more likely candidate – not counting the side hustles I actually do from the comfort of my rocking chair) so the gig economy hasn’t hit us yet.

If they are taxing us too much, give it back. If they’re not taxing us enough; well, we don’t need everything the state spends its money on.

A little help from their friends

We had some issues in Texas a couple weeks back, and in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, the left-leaners at the Alliance for American Manufacturing are now demanding a “Made in America” infrastructure bill. As Texas resident Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch wrote at the group’s behest:

It didn’t have to be like this. While we are seeing unusual weather in Texas, the electric grid here also hasn’t received updates it has needed for years. As one expert put it, the grid “limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

And it’s not just Texas. States like Oregon, Kentucky and Louisiana also are seeing power outages right now. California faced similar struggles last year.

These are the real world consequences of America’s failure to modernize its infrastructure. Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes and get to work.

“TAKE ACTION: What Happened in Texas Could Happen Anywhere”, Alliance for American Manufacturing, February 18, 2021

In fact, in the e-mail, Brotherton-Bunch actually says, “The crisis in Texas this week once again is highlighting the consequences of inaction. But every crisis also yields opportunity.”

Suppose, however, that the federal infrastructure bill did away with Davis-Bacon laws that add labor costs to the project unnecessarily. Sure, the leftist groups that back prevailing wage will tell you that the increased wage brings an increase in productivity, but to me that claim is rather dubious. Surely the reason the AAM really wants the infrastructure bill is to prop up their union backers – just like the push for an overall $15 minimum wage most benefits Big Labor in general and the SEIU in particular – moreover, if it goes to things the federal government may want that may not be what the locality needs.

Infrastructure in most cases should be more of a state priority. We’ve spent enough federal money for three lifetimes in mine, but those in power now want to put drunken sailors to shame. I guess the AAM just wants their cut.

The hopeful tone didn’t age well

Just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Bobby Jindal – the two-term governor of Louisiana and 2016 Republican presidential candidate (the one I endorsed initially) placed an op-ed at the Fox News site that sounded conciliatory toward the incoming administration, pointing out areas of common ground between the perceived moderate Biden and populist Republicans that backed Trump. In part, this was because President Trump…

…modified the traditional conservative argument that the problem was government was doing too much for too many — and instead argued it was not doing enough for the right people.

Trump expanded the definition of the deserving poor to include everyday working families whose wages had stagnated for years. Democrats have long used similar arguments to enact universal social welfare programs. President Obama cited the plight of working Americans to include both Medicaid expansion for the poor and exchange subsidies under ObamaCare for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

And Trump tapped into working-class anxiety by promising to pursue policies, like tighter immigration controls, tariffs, farm aid, and renegotiated trade deals, that would protect their jobs and incomes from unfair foreign competition.

Trump further promised to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that benefited his base supporters, while railing against a corrupt Washington establishment that conspired to enrich the coastal elites and expand wasteful redistribution programs for favored liberal constituencies.

But Trump seemed more interested in adding spending he liked — such as military spending, his border wall, his long-promised infrastructure bill, and direct pandemic assistance — than in eliminating spending he did not like.

“Bobby Jindal: Biden may find support for some proposals among populist Republicans in Congress,” FoxNews.com, January 17, 2021.

This big-government populism was the philosophy candidates like Lauren Witzke ran on last year.

I would agree with Jindal except for the fact that Democrats inside the Beltway seldom backed Trump’s initiatives despite the fact that a significant number of rank-and-file Democrats in the Rust Belt and other areas of flyover country eschewed the 2016 Democrat standardbearer Hillary Clinton to vote for Trump.

However, it should be said that the trajectory of history pre-pandemic was favoring Trump’s contention we could grow our way out of a deficit, as the annual shortages were coming down until trillions of dollars of stimulus and transfer payments were supposedly made necessary thanks to the “15 days to stop the spread” that are now closing in on a year in many places. Had Trump not been denied a second term he may have been proven correct.

But it was disappointing to read this from a man who was a successful budget-cutter in his home state, making the tough choices to save taxpayer dollars. And as an aside, one of those “common ground” issues Jindal cited was infrastructure.

First it was RGGI, now it’s TCI

It’s been percolating under the surface for quite awhile now, but when you start talking about a potential gas tax increase, people begin to listen.

It wasn’t enough to address so-called manmade climate change by developing a way for public utilities to transfer protection money to state governments (also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or as the subtitle suggests, RGGI) – nope, they decided to attack the internal combustion engine in the same way. As Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort explained at Delaware Online back in December 2020:

As Delaware faces a significant drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) can offer needed funding for communities along Routes 13 and 40 and other pollution burdened areas across Delaware, including Route 9, Northeast Wilmington, Belvedere Newport and Sussex County. TCI is a collaboration between eleven northeast and mid-Atlantic governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., who have been working to develop a regional cap and invest program that would significantly cut tailpipe pollution while building a fair and just zero-emission transportation system.

“Building a transportation and climate initiative that works for Delaware,” Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort, Delaware Online, December 17, 2020.

Never mind I put the lie to the tax revenue claim a few paragraphs ago, but the duo are only following what was laid out a couple years earlier as goals for the TCI:

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders and expert analysis, the participating TCI jurisdictions will design a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. This proposed program, when combined with existing programs and complementary policies, will be designed to achieve substantial reductions in transportation sector emissions and provide net economic and social benefits for participating states.

“Transportation and Climate Initiative Statement,” December 18, 2018.

Welcome to wealth transfer program part two, where rural folks and those who drive for business or pleasure will be transferring their wealth and freedom into more government largesse that will go to boondoggles they pick because the public won’t. In an Open Letter on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a number of groups advocating the rightsizing of government in these affected states and beyond called TCI “the wrong idea at the wrong time.” And in case you haven’t noticed, gas that was around $2.19 a gallon back in November has gone up 50 cents a gallon since – granted, some of that is normal (it seems like gas prices annually peak in the late spring) but the recent 20 cent surge blamed on Texas refineries being kicked offline thanks to the massive snowstorm there will take its sweet time to work itself out. Yet to someone who drives a 20 MPG truck 20,000 miles a year such as a rural worker, that per-gallon increase works out to $500 a year they can’t spend on food, clothing, or other necessities. A 27-cent gas tax increase such as the one the Caesar Rodney Institute has worried could be proposed for Delaware would cost that Sussex County worker $270 a year on top of the 50-cent increase.

Something on a favored flag

I suppose that since I wrote a book with it on the cover, one would consider my flag of choice the Gadsden flag. That yellow-and-black symbol of our colonial days became the icon of the TEA Party, and it got a little bit of its due recently thanks to my Ammo.com friend Sam Jacobs pushing an article on it.

Every so often I see a Gadsden flag adorning a pole under an American flag or see a Virginia Gadsden license plate – surprised those haven’t been banned from the state yet. (I just checked and they are still available, shockingly enough. But I doubt there’s any in the D.C. suburbs.) It’s comforting to know there are still people like me out there.

And since I now have an open space on the front of my car because Delaware only requires one license plate, maybe I can find a Gadsden plate to increase my old car’s value. (15 years old, almost 200,000 miles that would have been a lot of gas tax for greedy governments around the nation.)

Programming note

I have one more item in my e-mail box that will graduate to a full-length article, I believe. Be advised, though: writing may be a little sparse for a bit as I seem to be the snake that swallowed the goat and that big lump of various side hustles is making its way through my workload these days.

And speaking of the TEA Party, I believe I noted that I deactivated my old Rise and Fall website a couple months back. I think the Facebook page for it will be next to go. Last year I abandoned a book project that became a series of posts here on the Indivisible movement, and I started on another idea I had for an e-book before pulling the plug because I didn’t like how I thought I had to frame it – too unworkable. To be honest, right now is not the time in my life for a book.

So I guess I will stay in this little forum for now.

A new local grift?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donate page, Hold the Line PAC

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

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

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

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

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

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

The party reports

I said a few days ago that the Constitution Party really shot itself in the foot this time and botched its 2020 election effort.

So a couple days ago I received an e-mail that agreed with me, and it was from outgoing party chair Frank Fluckiger. In it he said, “We just did not run a good campaign this year and should have gotten more votes for Blankenship than we did. We did not get serious about the campaign until early (October) and that was costly.”

Well, first of all you should have nominated a better candidate, but besides that let’s look at what happened.

Not only did they not take the generally simple step to become a write-in candidate in several states (including Delaware and Maryland) but they missed Wyoming (a state where they have ballot access) because they forgot to turn in a three-person slate of electors. Really?

And Fluckiger adds this nugget of wisdom: “Five states… got 30,772 votes for Blankenship or 52% of the total vote Blankenship got nationwide.  That is a serious indication of just how weak the party is in many states.  So, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.” (These states were North Carolina, Michigan, Utah, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. And just so you know, the CP didn’t cost Trump any of these states since he won three and “lost” by a margin exceeding the CP’s vote in the other two.)

Finally, we can place this in the hopper, too: “With the exception of Tennessee and North Carolina, we did rather poorly in the Southern States.  In (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida) we have next to no party organization other than just being on the ballot. That should hopefully change with the new regional chairmen in place.” Maybe, and maybe not. But their focus should be on running good candidates in the offyear election, primarily in areas where one party dominates. They can either keep a wavering Republican honest or provide a clear alternative to a Democrat.

I also received some much more cheering election news from my friends at iVoterGuide, as they were thrilled about their impact on legislative races around the country. They called it their biggest victory:

Hands down, I believe it is state legislatures. Because it is a census year, the state legislators who were elected on November 3 will have control of redistricting – redrawing district lines for both their state legislature AND the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution gives the legislatures this duty after each census records population changes. That means they can redraw districts to favor conservative candidates for the next decade!

In these state legislative races, Christian and conservative voters had a nearly perfect night November 3. Candidates that share your values will control the redistricting of at least 188 congressional seats, or 43 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Left will only control redistricting of 73 seats at most—just 17 percent of the U.S. House.

“HUGE! You should celebrate these Christian election wins,” e-mail from iVoterGuide, December 1, 2020.

They continued by praising the newly-elected “obstacle course” that the Left will have to outmaneuver for the next two years until the conservative Christian reinforcements arrive in the 2022 midterms.

Just to give you an idea of their perspective, this is how they graded the on-ballot federal candidates for local races:

Delaware U.S. Senate: Chris Coons (very liberal), Nadine Frost (moderate), Mark Turley (conservative), Lauren Witzke (conservative)

I could see where they came up with these, as Nadine is a little more libertarian on immigration than they may prefer. I still see her as a right-leaning libertarian relatively in line with how I think. Mark Turley is more moderate to me based on his renewable energy stance, so I would be inclined to flip those two challengers. The other two are pegged pretty well.

Delaware U.S. House: Lisa Blunt Rochester (very liberal), Lee Murphy (somewhat conservative), Catherine Purcell (somewhat conservative), David Rogers (liberal)

I think I can buy these depictions based on the evidence I uncovered.

Maryland U.S. House, District 1: Andy Harris (very conservative), Mia Mason (liberal)

I think I would call Mason very liberal, like fall off the end of the earth liberal, but that’s just me.

Having worked in iVoterGuide’s process for the 2018 election (I helped evaluate Maryland candidates) I would enjoy doing it again for 2o22, even if Delaware only has a House race slated. I could still help out in Maryland, too.

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 federal dossier: Intangibles

This is the final part of a ten-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, intangibles are only worth 5 points – unlike other parts, however, these points can be subtractive as well. Intangibles are items like issues that I don’t cover, their websites, how they are running their campaign, and so forth.

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

As has been the case in each of my revised parts, I’m working through the Republicans for House and Senate first, followed by the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and incumbent Democrats last.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Like his primary opponent, Lee keeps opioid abuse at the forefront of his campaign. Aside from that, though, he keeps things rather close to the vest: it’s telling that I had to dig out some nuggets of information.

After a decent start, the lines of communication between the Murphy campaign and me have become a bit strained. I think we work at cross purposes.

One thing Lee has going for him is that he has run a statewide campaign. But the strike against him is that he’s not run a successful statewide campaign and the person he lost in said statewide campaign to is generally the butt of political jokes for his colorful personality and party-jumping skills. Obviously Lee has lost some races in hopeless situations, but this one was like fumbling at the five-yard line on the way to the winning touchdown.

He has picked up the pace to an extent after winning the primary, however. The question is whether his Democrat opponent’s mile-wide support is more than an inch deep. He needs to ask what his opponent has done for Delaware as opposed to what she’s done to Delaware. I am adding two points of five to his score.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Lauren is not shy about expressing her opinion. Perhaps that’s not quite the standard temperament for the Senate, but it seems to work for Ted Cruz. It has gotten her into a little bit of trouble lately as well.

Out of a lot of interesting statements to consider in this category, I’m picking out two.

“So far the righteous anger and frustration conservatives have felt over the years, has only been channeled to only result in tax cuts and deregulation rulings in favor of the socially progressive billionaire class – A billionaire class that looks down upon and views anyone on Main Street America, the American worker, or any social conservative (for that matter) with contempt.”

She is correct to a point; however, I believe the tax cuts and deregulation have improved the lot for all of us. Billionaires are in a better position to prosper, but bear in mind that they have written many of the regulations in order to tamp down potential competition. So deregulation defeats their purpose.

Secondly:

“I reject Bernie’s socialist ideology. But I understand why my generation seems to embrace it. Crippling student loan debt, unaffordable healthcare, unemployment, addiction, low wages, and in-achievable home ownership for the younger generation has become a stagnant norm.

When a socialist candidate provides solutions to their current problems, we’d be fools to believe they won’t embrace it. We have a serious battle ahead of us against a radical socialist takeover.”

What we need to do is properly educate Millennials that what the Bernie/Biden brigade is promising is fool’s gold, the value of which will indebt their grandchildren’s grandchildren to a one-world tyranny where they will be cogs in the machine unless blessed by birth to be in the ruling class. The rest will suffer the serfdom of the Dark Ages.

It’s where I depart from Lauren’s big-government philosophy, because regardless of the intentions of big government, in the end it only succeeds in reducing our liberty.

However, there are two things Lauren is doing very well in this campaign: nationalizing her race (which is a must in an uphill battle like this) and engaging voters at a far more frenetic pace than either her primary opponent or the Democrat incumbent. (However, he will simply bombard the airwaves with 30 second commercials about “orange man bad” and call it engagement. That’s the advantage of a seven-figure war chest Lauren doesn’t have.) And while I don’t agree with her embrace of Big Labor, that overture does make an inroads into her opponent’s core constituency.

I endorsed Lauren in the GOP primary, but in the general election she’s presented a contrast not just to her Democrat opponent but to the other two ballot-eligible opponents as well – and it’s not always favorable to her. Initially I was adding a full five points to her score based on how she has run her primary campaign but now I think she only merits three additional points out of five.

David Rogers (L) (House)

The biggest intangible I can find for Rogers is his belief that we should end qualified immunity for the police as well as the War on Drugs. Both of these seem like knee-jerk reactions to current events, although the latter platform plank has been a longtime libertarian staple in some form or another. (To some extent, I agree with it.)

But to the extent that I have had to dig out information about his campaign, it is a problem. I realize that the minor parties don’t have money to speak of, but with ballot access already assured (unlike the situation in other states) the Libertarians should be selecting candidates who are more willing to spread their word. On this token, they fall short of their IPoD competition. I’m deducting three points of five from his score.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

One intriguing idea that arguably could have made it into the role of government category is that of prohibiting Congress from meeting in Washington, D.C. for more than sixty days a year. “Those asses want to bribe our legislators?” she writes. “They are going to have to fly to every effing district and meet them in a one-to-one basis. That oughta cool their jets.”

Nadine doesn’t mince words about the VA (a “corrupt, mismanaged” institution) either.

But her big win is stating, “We are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Big Government feeds on these rights, and spits on the very citizens it is supposed to serve,” adding, ”Politicians in general cannot have a serious effect on the economy – only negative consequences.” That to me is a message to Lauren Witzke as well as Chris Coons.

For the resources she has, Nadine has run a fairly decent campaign. I’m giving her four points out of five.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

This is the sort of rhetoric which tells you CSP is not a politician, “(There has been a) disinformation campaign launched to separate and divide Americans. I think there should be warning labels on FAKE news and fabricated stories. Stiff penalties for crisis actors creating productions that don’t exist and whose intentions are to stir race wars.” It sounds way off on the right, but some of her positions are well left of center.

Out of all the candidates, I posit that she is running the most unconventional race by far. Of course, the problem she has is the same as most other minor-party hopefuls: no name recognition. She may have better face recognition based on her signs, but there aren’t photos on the ballot. All things considered, as hard as she is working on social media I will leave her score the same.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

I alluded to his wish to be a moderating influence in my last part. So while I don’t have the rhetoric I get from other corners of the Senate race, I don’t see him as one who would make needed change either. And his campaign is about as low-key as one can get, which is not conducive to winning or making a difference. I’m deducting one point of five.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

She is running the ultimate “play it safe” campaign and resting on her supposed laurels. Sadly, that may be good enough because too many voters are uninformed and I can only push back the frontiers of ignorance a little bit at the moment. I can also take off the full five points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

We’ve already see him whine about Amy Coney Barrett, which reminds me of his campaign that states, “Chris… works hard to protect our federal courts. He has earned a reputation as a tough, detailed questioner when pressing President Trump’s judicial nominees about their positions on key issues like race discrimination, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ equality. He has also been crucial in blocking some of President Trump’s least qualified and most dangerous nominees from lifetime appointments to the federal bench.” The only position that matters is how they interpret the Constitution – do they believe it is supposed to be interpreted as written or just made up from what they think it should be?

And when he says, “Protecting the civil rights of every American is one of Chris’ top priorities,” I wonder if some Americans are less protected than others. The same goes for my right to votes, as “Chris is leading efforts to protect the right to vote for all Americans and to ensure that exercising your right to vote is safe, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It was safe until you started pushing the vote-by-mail scam where someone’s vote out of whole cloth cancels out my legally won ballot which I’m going to show up to cast because I can.

We have three people on the ballot who would be way better Senators than Chris Coons. I deduct all five points.

Originally I did my endorsement at this point for the GOP primary, but I think I will hold off for two reasons. One is more punch to the post as I will do the governor’s race at the same time, but the other is because I have two rather close races. Take a look at my standings:

Standings:

House: Murphy 33.5, CSP 24, Rogers 13.5, LBR (-1.5).

Senate: Frost 45.5, Witzke 43.5, Turley 7.5, Coons (-3).

On October 24, I found out Nadine Frost had a website, which allowed my to enhance both my dossier and my scores:

Senate: Frost 55, Witzke 43.5, Turley 7.5, Coons (-3).

There are categories for each of my top two which were left blank so I want to maximize the opportunity for score improvement. I anticipate making a mid-October endorsement, in time for most mail-in ballots to be sent.