On the Hustings With Bryan Townsend, Part II: Things I Learned.

Filed in National by on August 23, 2012

Told’ja I’d go back, and I went back yesterday evening to campaign with Bryan Townsend, who may be running the best single state legislative campaign in Delaware this year.  Well, his amazing staff is running the campaign, Bryan’s the Incredible Campaigner. Here’s what I learned:

1. You Can’t Go Home Again…if you’re Tony DeLuca.

Got through the I-95 traffic early, so I decided to tour the community that Tiny Tony called home up until well… you know. That community is Varlano, a well-kept working class subdivision off of Old Baltimore Pike. I immediately saw a Townsend sign on a lawn at the first intersection. My tour of the community revealed 5 Townsend signs and one, wait for it, Evan Q sign. Not one DeLuca sign in the community that knows him best.

2. Bryan Townsend Is Great At the Door.

Without detailing the type of list we were working from (suffice it to say that the list reflects this well-coordinated campaign and will result in votes on Sept. 11), Bryan Townsend won a lot of votes at the door last night. How? He listens and thoughtfully discusses the concerns raised by those at the door. He doesn’t use some BS lines, he just listens, empathizes, and lets people know that he will actually be there for them when he’s elected. He even received some constituent concerns, and will be following up on them this morning.  You know, stuff an accessible senator would do as a matter of course. Which brings me to:

3. DeLuca Really Has Been Invisible.

There have been recent DeLuca sightings, as he travels door-to-door with what is described as a large entourage. I think I understand why. Remember when Tony single-handedly, and in violation of proper legislative procedures, had his office turned into an armed fortress b/c ‘just anybody could walk in’ and interrupt…important business? Remember when he cited the possibility of stalkers and/or would-be thieves gleaning his travel patterns as an excuse not to reveal his hourly records from DOL? That’s right, folks. I’m guessing that this is less an entourage and more of a security detail to keep people away from someone of Tony’s stature (insert your own joke here). My long-winded point is that we were in a community that has been around forever, and nobody we spoke to had ever met Tony DeLuca. Ever. How long has he been senator again?

4. Townsend’s Campaign Team Is Awesome.

The coordination is incredible, and I should know. I’ve worked on campaigns a long time. As you know, I especially love grassroots campaigns, and I believe that an effective grassroots campaign in Delaware can overcome tens of thousands of misspent dollars, or even well-spent dollars, which is not the case here. And this may be the best one I’ve ever worked on. Better than Dave Sokola’s first campaign b/c the campaign managers are dependable and very bright. Dave had to overcome a campaign manager who, as I recall, took vacation right before the election. There’s great synergy at work here, and the stuff gets done.  Big thumbs up for the food as well.

5. Tony DeLuca, Job Creator…In Iowa.

While in the district yesterday, we found out that, that very day, the DeLuca campaign was conducting a massive canvass/push poll. Not a negative push poll but, from what we were able to reconstruct something like this: “May I speak to ______? I’m calling on behalf of State Senator Tony DeLuca. Tony is working to create jobs, to provide high-quality education in our district, and is a genuinely caring person (I’m not making the last part up, they really said that.) Can we count on your support in the Democratic primary on Tues., Sept. 11?”

As you might expect, some of the content of that message set off little alarms among informed voters. So people asked the callers: What district? What state? And, of course, Where are you calling from? The only one of those questions the callers were able to answer was the last one, the ‘where are you calling from?’. The answer: Iowa. So, I guess it’s truthful for the callers to say that DeLuca is creating jobs in their district. Only it’s their district in Iowa.

6. The Townsend Campaign Has a Great Plan for Between Now and Election Day.

I have no doubt that, assuming they have enough money, and we’re talking nowhere near DeLuca money, they will be able to execute their plan and, I think, seal the deal. The plan fits perfectly with the grassroots building block campaign that they’ve waged. All it takes is money. I ponied up a second time. You can too. Right here. Not only is the most ethically-challenged member of the General Assembly ready to be toppled, he would be replaced by a person who immediately would be among the best legislators in Dover.

7. Conclusions.

The DeLuca campaign really appears to be in disarray and reduced to simply throwing good money after bad. They are trying to do something which I’m not sure they can do. Bury people in so much campaign lit and third party contacts that people will forget that they’ve never met the guy they’re talking about. They’ve easily burned through over $100,000 (!), and yet nobody at the doors knows the guy. They’re getting two pieces of lit a week from someone they’ve never met. In Delaware, people expect to see their elected officials. Hell, I’ve had both Mike Castle and Joe Biden at my door, and Tom Carper has spent quality time on our patio (admittedly not lately). And it’s tough for statewide candidates to get around like that. 14 years of Tony DeLuca, and hardly anybody in the district knows him. Which would likely be advantageous for DeLuca if someone like Bryan Townsend wasn’t his opponent. He’s everything DeLuca isn’t: engaged (well, DeLuca might be engaged, if you get my drift), accessible, and empathetic.

With your help, he can become what Tony DeLuca is: State Senator in the 11th District. And one thing that Tony DeLuca isn’t: State Senator For the People of the 11th District.

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  1. AQC says:

    I went through a neighborhood with Bryan last week and agree with everything you said. If Bryan doesn’t win, it won’t be because of any lack of effort or work from him and his campaign team!

  2. hmmm says:

    Enthusiasm is great and I appreciate your excitement to get him elected.

    But signs don’t mean crap.

    Large volunteer campaigns are great and awe inspiring, but they can only do so much. It’ll all come down to if people actually find a reason to go out and vote. It’ll be interesting to see if people find enough of a reason to vote DeLuca out, not vote a nice young promising guy in.

  3. I’ve been around campaigns for a long time. The purpose of them is (a) to persuade voters to support your candidate and then (b) to get more of them out to the polls to vote for your candidate than the other candidate does. Which is what this campaign is doing, step-by-step. As to the question of ‘voting out’ vs. ‘voting in’, it doesn’t really matter. And I think the enthusiasm of identified Townsend voters make them more likely to turn out than unenthused DeLuca voters who may, for example, be cajoled by a union or something to come out.

    As to signs, I think they DO mean something when they’re on people’s lawns in communities throughout the district. And they mean even more when the incumbent can’t even get anyone to take his lawn signs in what was his home community. Signs also reflect the degree to which a candidate has directly appealed to a voter. So, yes, I think signs in yards, as opposed to common right-of-way, is some reflection of the respective campaigns. It’s not as if the Townsend campaign is obsessed with signs, but they’re more than happy to put up the signs when supporters request them. And a lot have, largely b/c the campaign has reached out to them on a personal level.

  4. One more thing about signs. It’s the easiest thing in the world for an incumbent to simply contact those who have taken his/her signs before and ask them if they can put one up this time.

    It’s much tougher for a challenger, even a credible one, to rival an incumbent in the sign war. We were in a community last night (not Varlano), which has been around forever, and Townsend is kicking DeLuca’s butt there. And this is what, by most accounts, would be considered a working-class community. Same holds true for the community we walked through last time.

    So, yes, I think it reflects, at the least, the relative organizational skills of the respective campaigns. And effective organizations optimize votes on election day.

  5. SussexWatcher says:

    ” I decided to tour the community that Tiny Tony called home up until well… you know.”

    No, I don’t. What?

  6. Until he left (was forced to leave?) what had been his family home b/c, while married, he had taken up with his top assistant in the Senate. The same one he had come ‘work for him’ at his Labor job while she was being paid by the Senate.

    It’s no longer rumor, it’s fact, and DeLuca is no longer denying it. They’re renting a townhouse in the district so that DeLuca can maintain legal residence in the 11th.

  7. JPConnorjr says:

    Tony Lives in the 14th rep. It’s kind of a tradition with McBride up the road a piece:)

  8. hmmm says:

    Congratulations for being around campaigns. That wasn’t my point and I wasn’t intending to argue against your post.

    I was merely stating that enthusiastic organization etc. are great and exciting. However, in any insurgent campaign there has to be some sort of motivating effort for people to move forward and vote against someone. Usually you can’t decide if that exists until voting day on such a small race. Best of luck and I look forward to seeing the results.

    About signs, that’s great you think they are useful. I am merely saying that they can’t and don’t predict anything. They can be anecdotal evidence to a campaign’s organization but they don’t indicate anything by themselves.

    Mike Ramone had more signs than people in the 6th district in 06, he lost. Christine O’Donnell had more signs than sense (not saying much), she lost.

  9. Bryan was impressive to all at the CLNCC forum Tuesday night (YouTube links are up on my blog).

    Tony DeLuca cancelled at noon on the day of and it looks like he’s also not showing up for Saturday’s Newark Post/UUFN forum either.

  10. And my point is that some people vote against someone, others vote for someone, and some vote the way they do b/c of a combination of both.

    Whether they’re pro-Townsend, anti-DeLuca, or both, those intending to vote for Townsend appear to have much more incentive to come out to vote than do DeLuca supporters. It’s up to the campaign to get them out, and all signs suggest to me that they will.

  11. JJ says:

    It would be nice to see a longtime Senator lose in a primary just to shake things up in Dover and keep them more tied to their constituents.
    Booth may go down in Sussex because of his double dip job, but if DeLuca or McDowell were to lose, now that would be something…..the other electeds will take notice if one of those guys were toppled… BUT DSEA fluff mailings went out today for some of the usual incumbents.

  12. JJ: What are you hearing on Booth/Bodie? Been a lot quieter than I expected. Starting to think that Booth will survive.

  13. SussexWatcher says:

    Booth will eke it out. Bodie doesn’t have COD’s coattails this time. But it’ll still be close. Booth has pissed a hell of a lot of people off.

  14. Jason330 says:

    CelIa has Booth as the third most endangered incumbent after Dotri Conner and Paul Clark. FWIW.

  15. JTF says:

    Deluca walks with this race. I bet he beats Townsend by 15 points, at least.

  16. JJ says:

    Yes, Booth is lucky this race seems to be under radar/ quieter this time. If Joe’s new job with school district had emerged before last election, rather than 2 weeks after, he would have lost. Booth is strong campaigner and has great local roots. Eric Bodie and tea party have lost some steam in district. If Booth runs good retail campaign, he can hold it again, but it will be competitive….
    the Lopez-Urqhardt race is very interesting and result will be telling for GOP.

  17. Really, JTF? Based on what, exactly? I want to know, really I do. There are no signs of a resurgent DeLuca in the district, and he’s only run two races. Lost a close one, won a close one.

    What people don’t realize is that DeLuca has never been a political powerhouse. He lost to the profoundly undistinguished Donna Reed, edged her out the second time, and has gotten fat and happy for 14 years. And Townsend is light years ahead of Donna Reed as a candidate. And DeLuca is 14 years older.

    Give me something other than your empty assertions to base your comment on, JTF. Otherwise, they’re empty assertions.

  18. JTF says:

    There’s a money advantage and a name rec advantage. There’s also a general mythos, which this blog tends to promote for their chosen folks, that I don’t buy into. I have nothing to back up my assertions I just have a tough time buying into what you’re saying, and from what I’ve seen I just disagree with your take on the race.

    I could be wrong, you could be wrong, we’ll see.

  19. AQC says:

    DeLuca does not have better name recognition in his own district! And, having more money guarantees nothing.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You might want to take a drive through those neighborhoods again. Not saying you’re lying…but I’m seeing a different dynamic. WAY different.

  21. cassandra_m says:

    Well, of course, *you’d* say that, Evan. Do remember our one name rule, pls.