My Delaware predictions, with pithy comments:
President of the United States: Obama/Biden again win Delaware handily. Down-ballot races could well be impacted by (lack of) R enthusiasm, especially upstate.
United States Senate: Tom Carper, Delaware’s senior DLC cheerleader and in effect the Father of Delaware DLC politics, wins easily. Only an egomaniacal madman like Alex Pires could almost turn Carper into a sympathetic figure. There was a viable insurgency campaign to be run against Carper, but Pires chose not to run it. Steely Dan put it best:
“Show business kids making movies of themselves… You know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else…”
I think Kevin Wade comes in second, but it doesn’t really matter. Wonder what’s the over/under on the date that Carper first caves to the Rethuglicans in the new Congress. I’m betting before January of 2013. You know, when the Rethugs threaten fiscal disaster if D’s don’t retreat on higher taxes for the wealthy…
U. S. Representative: John Carper, Jr. Carney defeats Tom Kovach, who may or may not get credit for running a campaign. I don’t know what’s more depressing: the fact that the R’s put up so little fight or the fact that the D’s are supplicants at best and Republicrats at worst. The meme of Tom Kovach as some sort of Rethug savior has run its course.
Governor: OK, time for a rant. If Rethugs are going to lament ‘one-party rule’, it’s up to THEM to recruit credible candidates for statewide office. Not these mom-and-pop candidacies with virtually no funding from the Party. Oh, I understand that many Greenville R’s like Markell, and that’s fine. But this is up and down the ticket. Believe it or not, there are a few promising R candidates in down-ballot races. They’re the ones whose chances are weakened b/c the R’s have failed to field and/or fund credible candidates. I mean, who the bleep’s coming out to vote b/c they’re caught up in the palpable excitement of the Cragg campaign? So, when you hear Rethugs like Sigler, Lavelle and Copeland lament one-party rule, tell ‘em to look in the mirror b/c that’s where the blame resides. Markell trounces Cragg. On merit and on overwhelmingly-superior electoral firepower (yes, a deliberately metaphorical NRA reference. His gun’s just bigger than your’s, John).
Lieutenant Governor: My favorite Democrat defeats Sher ‘We Built This’ Valenzuela. Valenzuela parlayed her (less than) 15 minutes of fame into some notoriety, so Matt Denn may not quite get Markell’s margin. But it will be huge. In some ways, Valenzuela serves as a proxy for the entire Rethug Party: Someone who built her business with government contracts and then talks about how she ‘built this’ with no help from the government. Oh, and she’s also a faux Hispanic. Only in the old and white Republican Party could someone who married a Latino and took his last name be considered a minority. I’ll be interested to see if this is a ‘one-and-done‘ candidacy, or whether Valenzuela falls in love with the sound of her own voice. Bonus chutzpah points for throwing Kevin Wade under the bus.
Insurance Commissioner: Doesn’t get more depressing than this. For those of you with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, how do you like that Highmark merger now? Delaware’s most unqualified elected official will have four more years to ply her incompetence. I’m voting for Ben Mobley, but what I said above about mom-and-pop candidacies applies here. I’ve been around a long time, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone as unsuited as Karen Weldin Stewart to hold public office. A tribute to vapid narcissism. She and Andria Viola Bennett should friend each other on Facebook.
New Castle County Executive: Tom Gordon, big. At least he’s competent. You know, when you have events like Superstorm Sandy, you look for competence in your public officials. Gordon passes that test. I don’t know whether he’s learned his lessons from the last time, but I do know that Mark Blake has not made a compelling case for his own candidacy.
New Castle County President: How far has the R brand fallen that they actually embrace Mike Protack as a plausible candidate? Rev. Chris Bullock wins easily.
STATE SENATE RACES
Senate District 4: One of the most intriguing races this year. Incumbent D Dr. Michael Katz vs. State Representative Greg Lavelle. You might think that Lavelle would return this seat to the R column following Katz’ surprise win over a conservative John Clatworthy four years ago. After all, there is a 1400 R registration edge in the district, and Lavelle has name recognition. But I’m picking Katz. Here’s why. The R registration edge is down from about a 2.5K advantage in 2008. Katz has been an incumbent for four years, meaning he has four years of constituent service and name recognition under his belt. Lavelle has only two election districts from his previous district in this senatorial district. Even with the R edge, this is Markell’s home district, and he’s been working hard for Katz. Katz has, according to many sources, been out-campaigning Lavelle, especially when it comes to shoe leather. Finally, I think Katz has a secret weapon in pro-choice/anti-patriarchal woman voters. Lavelle helped purge Priscilla Rakestraw from her position as Republican National Committeewoman, and Lavelle is the most tireless legislative mouthpiece for the worst pedophilic excesses of the Catholic Church in Delaware. Katz 53, Lavelle 47.
Senate District 5: The big question here is whether socially progressive/moderate voters, particularly women, catch on to the fact that R incumbent Cathy Cloutier has been lying to them. Which she has. Not only did she just get an ‘A’ rating from the right-wing Delaware Family Policy Council , up from a B-plus two years ago. She’s also endorsed by the virulently anti-choice A Rose and A Prayer and the National Rifle Association. She got those grades by taking stands against equal rights based on sexual orientation. Also, against female reproductive and health rights. And generally against the positions of a majority of Brandywine Hundred voters. She provided those answers herself. The only question is whether Cloutier’s ability to appear empathetic and to fortuitously show up at election year civic events bearing checks enable her to hoodwink the voters one more time. Her opponent, Chris Counihan, has been endorsed by both gay rights organizations and Planned Parenthood. He has not equivocated on these issues, he has not answered surveys in diametrically-opposite ways in order to secure endorsements from two distinct organizations representing distinctly-opposite views, as Cloutier has. Democrat Counihan is a policy wonk. Not unlike, wait for it, Phil Cloutier. He’d be an excellent senator. But Tony DeLuca did the Democrat no favors here during redistricting, perhaps as a reward for Cloutier’s skipping a key vote (sound familiar?) when DeLuca’s leadership was being challenged. I’m not optimistic that enough voters are paying attention, so I predict that Cloutier rides her phony ‘empathy’ to another term, 51%-49%. More than any other race, I hope to be proven wrong here.
Senate District 6: Well, I worry about this one. Why? Because the ‘conventional wisdom’ appears to be that R Ernesto Lopez has the edge on D Andrew Staton. And I feel the same way. And I’m often wrong, but especially wrong about Lower Slower. Still, when in doubt, I’m gonna go with the candidate who is more acceptable to the center. And that’s Lopez. He appears to have more successfully solidified his base following the primary. Plus, Lopez did everyone a favor, R’s and D’s alike, by dispatching Glen Urquhart. I think he’s the candidate with whom more voters feel comfortable, and I think he notches a 53%-47% victory.
Senate District 8: R’s recruited Greg Lavelle BFF Bill Stritzinger to challenge Dave Sokola, who is arguably Delaware’s Best State Senator. This is the race that Sen. Liane Sorenson opted out of, instead choosing retirement. I think Sokola, who is a relentless campaigner, would have edged Sorenson, and I know that he will defeat Stritzinger.
Senate District 11: Once Evan Queitsch is dispatched by rising D star Bryan Townsend, who will warn the world of the eee-vils of Agenda 21? Never mind. World’s not paying attention. Not even on Hallowe’en, yet another United Nations conspiracy.
Senate District 12: D Nicole Poore picks up this seat from incumbent R Dori Connor. Won’t be close. Connor doesn’t have the support of portions of the coalition that propped her up before, her district is significantly changed after redistricting, and the numbers render the district unwinnable for an R in Connor’s circumstances: 18,171 D; 7821 R; and 7727 I. Plus, Nicole Poore was a great find. If my predictions are correct, the Senate will have at least three new rising stars: D’s Poore and Townsend and R Lopez.
Senate District 14: R’s are high on political newcomer Scott Unruh and, under different circumstances, he might be capable of springing a surprise. Sen. Bruce Ennis has been around a long time and may not reflect the changing profile of this previously more rural district. But the numbers are tough, especially for a Presidential year election: 13,898 D; 8347 R; and 7242 I. And Ennis has always done his constituent homework. If Unruh keeps this close, Ennis may decide that this could be his last term. He’s been a good public official. Unruh is an R worth watching.
Senate District 15: First-term R incumbent Dave Lawson is Number One with a bullet. Which the ballots will reflect. The D’s seem to have gotten a pretty good ‘name on the ballot’ for this race in Kathleen Cooke, a special education teacher in the Smyrna School District. She’s running hard, looks like she’s having fun doing it, and may well have a political future. But, to put it mildly, she doesn’t have the right profile for this farmer-tan-red western Kent County district.
Senate District 19: Brian Pettyjohn turns back the challenge of Jane Hovington. Whether or not his name appears on the ballot. For comedic purposes alone, I’d prefer that his name not appear. That’s right. Any and all “chickens with their heads cut off” analogies apply. Which, come to think of it, would reflect the behavior of western Sussex County Rethugs should a black civil rights leader win the seat.
Senate District 20: This seat flips from D to R as R Rep. Gerald Hocker succeeds the retiring Sen. George Howard Bunting. Bunting was one of the most conscientious public officials I ever met, and I wish him good health and long life. D Richard W. Eakle IS the proverbial name on the ballot, and the results will reflect it.
Senate District 21: Q: Why doesn’t this R pick-up opportunity matter? A: Because it’s gonna flip in 2014 anyway. Only with a different R. Which is why I think it stays D this time. Confused? Let me try to explain. Long-time D Senator Bob Venables is running for one more term. Due to redistricting, a two-year term. A not-so-secret succession plan is already in place. Venables would retire and State Rep. Daniel Short would run to replace him and would almost certainly win. Yep, just like Hocker succeeding Bunting in the 20th. R Bryant Richardson, a publisher of weekly Sussex newspapers, would change that equation, were he to win. And it’s possible he could. But I think that Venables, who is hardly a liberal or a moderate, has built enough goodwill that he’ll get his two year valedictory.
STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RACES
R. D. 6: While I wasn’t thrilled with the way the lines for this district were redrawn, I still see Debra Heffernan as the heavy favorite in this Brandywine Hundred district. It was a real feat for her to beat Tom Kovach, and her opponent, Eric Taylor, has not raised much money. He’s no Tom Kovach. And it’s still a D district. Heffernan wins.
R. D. 7: Gotta give late-starter R Dan Lepre props. He has a great sign team, which has boosted his name recognition. But he’s running against popular incumbent Bryon Short, Lepre only recently became a resident of the 7th due to redistricting, and he’s not well-known. Still, this Mount Pleasant teacher is a credible R who might have a future…especially if he also lives in Harris McDowell’s Senate district. Short easily.
R. D. 8: Quin Johnson, one of Joanne Christian’s favorite legislators, will handily retain this Appoquinimink area district. It was next to impossible to find out anything regarding his opponent, R Matt Brown. Other than he once ran for the Appoquinimink School Board. And that he didn’t fill out the questionnaire for the school board race.
R. D. 10: I’ve demonstrated my cluelessness when it comes to this district every single time I’ve made a prediction about it. Which should prove to be good news for challenger Bob Rhodunda because I’m predicting that incumbent D Dennis E. Williams wins reelection. It will be close as Williams weathered a too-close-for-comfort primary, and Rhodunda presumably continued to campaign after losing last time. However, the registration advantage in this district has grown, and there are now close to 2K more registered D’s than R’s. Plus, it’s a presidential election year. Williams is a dependable progressive, I hope he wins, and I think he takes a 52% to 48% victory.
R. D. 11: This new district, which straddles the New Castle and Kent County lines, features a D registration edge but also features a rural R ‘culture’. Specifically, a Smyrna/Clayton-type culture. I think that R Jeffrey Spiegelman overcomes the nominal D registration edge, and beats D Lynne Newlin. Not on merit, as Spiegelman cuts/pastes that line asserting that “(p)eople should not be coddled by their government.” So, if you need constituent assistance, don’t expect to be coddled by your state rep. Based on his pictures, he loves him some NASCAR and some shootin’ rifles. His entire campaign is a series of snapshots of similar cultural touchstones. Newlin would be infinitely preferable, but this is good ol’ boy territory.
R. D. 17: Mike Mulrooney is a low-key, but effective, legislator. I’ve always liked him. He faces perennial Republican Party candidate Laura Brown. He easily wins this New Castle area district contest.
R. D. 19: The real election was the Democratic Primary. D Kim Williams handily defeats R Dennis Cini to become Bob Gilligan’s successor. A worthy successor indeed.
R. D. 20: Probably the closest thing to good vs. evil we’ve got this cycle. Arrogant bully-boy cop Steve Smyk vs. Marie Mayor, whose linked bio says it all. While you’d doubt that Sussex County would be capable of electing such a qualified candidate, Mayor easily won a very impressive primary campaign against two legitimate challengers, and did it without creating any rifts in the Party. She has built a very effective grassroots organization which, of course, was already in place for the general following the primary. I predict that Mayor narrowly defeats yet another state cop seeking a second (or third) pension. As if we need any more of them in Dover.
R. D. 22: I’d like to thank David Ellis for taking on the thankless (irony duly noted) task of challenging incumbent R Rep. Joe Miro. Miro wins, though, in one of the very few guaranteed R House seats remaining in New Castle County.
R. D. 23: An upset is possible here, as the R’s have recruited the closest thing to former Rep. Tim Boulden that they could find. Mark Doughty comes across as a relatively apolitical good-natured guy. His chances would be greater in a non-presidential year. It will be competitive, but I look for Progressive Democrats of Delaware leader Paul Baumbach to win. Say 53%-47%.
R. D. 28: R Chris Sylvester is straight out of the Young Republican cookie-cutter mold. He is running against incumbent Bill ‘Lumpy’ Carson, Honorary Mayor of Happy Hour. Sylvester started late, and the registration figures are 7523 D; 3527 R; and 3698 I. Carson wins, but I’ll be interested to see whether Sylvester outperforms the registration.
R. D. 29: One of the best legislative races of the year. R Rep. Lincoln Willis, who is among the very few promising GOP young guns in the General Assembly, is facing a tested and savvy campaigner in Trey Paradee. Paradee almost defeated incumbent Rep. Pam Thornburg in 2008. Paradee has skilfully carved up Willis’ voting record at a series of public debates/candidate forums. This is especially important b/c this district has been redrawn, Willis has lost several of his key stronghold election districts, primarily to the new 11th RD, and these debates often are voters’ first introduction to the candidates. In addition, Paradee maintains that the key voting bloc this time around will be people who have moved to Delaware in the past ten years. The Willis name is well-known in the area due to the auto dealership his family runs. This can go either way, but I’m predicting that Willis ekes out a win, based on remaining family goodwill. It’s not like you have to live next to the dealership to buy a car from there. And Willis is a better candidate than Thornburg was in 2008. Win or lose, both Willis and Paradee have great political futures should they decide to stay in the game.
R. D. 31: The R’s think that they have a promising newcomer in Samuel Chick, who was placed on the ballot when Ron Poliquin ran afoul of the law. The D’s have incumbent Darryl Scott, who has established himself as one of the best thinkers and legislators in Dover. I look for big things from Scott, including a strong victory on Tuesday.
R. D. 32: Betcha that when Pete Schwartzkopf redrew the lines to make this a safe seat for Brad Bennett, he had no inkling that he was making it a safe seat for Andria Viola Bennett. The very idea of John Viola and Andria Viola Bennett serving in the same General Assembly merely supports Al Mascitti’s argument that the number of members in this august body should be shrunk. Viola pere et fille are at least doing their part to shrink the collective IQ of the institution. I can hardly wait for 2014 when a (presumably) chastened Brad Bennett tries to get his old seat back from his current wife. I’m thinking of copyrighting the idea right now for a reality TV series. You’ll note that I haven’t yet mentioned R candidate Ellis Parrott, a former magistrate who is running like a former magistrate. In a district with a 2-1 D registration edge, the new wife takes the place of her incarcerated husband.
R. D. 33: This conservative Kent County District surprisingly sent mild-mannered D Bob Walls to Dover for two terms. Walls lost in 2010 to R Harold Peterman, who should easily turn back the challenge of D John Robbins.
R. D. 34: I think it’s cool that a moderate R black educator represents this district in Dover. I don’t see that changing this year. Incumbent Don Blakey defeats D Ted Yacucci who, as you can see, has at least thought about the issues facing the district.
R. D. 37: D Beth McGinn is the real deal. Strong supporter of tenant’s rights, a leader in the American Legion Auxiliary. She has a puncher’s chance against incumbent R Ruth Briggs King, who takes a backseat to no other legislator when it comes to screwing tenants. McGinn got started late, though, and that could cost her. King wins, but by a margin that should encourage McGinn to keep on running for 2014.
R. D. 38: By all accounts (both D’s and R’s), former State Rep. Shirley Price is running a better campaign than her Republican opponent, Ronald Gray. They are running for the seat currently held by Gerald Hocker, who is seeking a state senate seat. Problem is that the registration figures are daunting: 6250 D; 7826 R; and 3672 I. When you consider that registration generally overstates D votes in Sussex, it’s difficult for me to see a pathway to victory for Price here. I predict Gray wins, but I encourage you all to talk me down.
R. D. 40: The (ultra-) right Reverend Tim Dukes takes Biff Lee’s seat in the General Assembly. D Benjamin Lowe doesn’t stand a chance.
R. D. 41: Admit it. The Delaware General Assembly would be a much duller body without the Law Abidin’ John Atkins in it. (Memo to Pete: Uh, you might want to take John away from the Corrections Committee this time around. You know, the cheap labor thing, the tire-burning thing, the wife thing, the kid thing, the missing paperwork thing…) Atkins will defeat extreme developers’ rights mouthpiece Richard G. Collins, and step in something bad at least two times in the next two years.
SPECIAL BONUS PICK:
Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver easily turns back the challenge of Don Ayotte, and everyone breathes easier.
Damn, you sure got your money’s worth from me this time. Unless, of course you place a wager or two based on these predictions. Just remember: You get what you pay for.