Today, we will review the state of play in the statewide races, which are our US Senator and Representative, as well as the Attorney General, Treasurer and Auditor. As is Delaware custom, we have overwhelmingly favored incumbents facing off against token or insane opposition, and then we have a game of musical chairs producing an unexpected race (Attorney General), a race between a tired incumbent who has overstayed his welcome and a young competent whippersnapper (Auditor), and
a vulnerable incumbent whose time in office has invited primary challenges on both sides of the aisle an open race between a competent Democrat, a Republican businessman, and a crazy person named after a singer and a South American country (Treasurer).
Then we move over to the State Senate, where the Democrats enjoy a 3 seat majority in the small chamber of 21 Senators (13 Democrats and 8 Republicans). Can the GOP take over the majority this fall?
No. Not unless there is this GOP wave a la 1994 and 2010 that causes all Democrats in the state to stay home and forces all Republicans and Independents to vote GOP. And even then, it is questionable. Why? There are just simply not enough seats that are competitive this year in which the GOP can make gains.
Here are the uncontested seats, or seats where the GOP is not running anyone to challenge the Democratic incumbent. Keep in mind that whether a seat is uncontested or not can still change, as major parties (Dems and the Repugs) have until September 2, 2014 to nominate someone to challenge an uncontested race.
You know the old adage, you can’t beat someone with no one. With only half the Senate up for election this year (due to staggered terms), you cannot let two seats go unchallenged like this, even if the districts are heavily Democratic.
Next we move on to the marginally competitive races…
I guess I should have included the 11th SD on the uncontested line above, since no Republican is running yet. I just view the primary between the progressive rising star Bryan Townsend and the right wing bigot David Tackett as that important, and if Tackett wins, we will have another John Atkins on our hands, only this time he will be a Senator. Given Senator Townsends’s nonstop campaign since early 2012, involving talking with nearly every constituent in person twice to three times, versus the Tackett/Deluca lit drop style of campaigning, I feel good about this primary, so long as Bryan’s voters turn out. I feel pissed that this primary needs to be fought.
PREDICTION: Townsend over Tackett 60-40.
In the 10th Senate District, we have incumbent Senator Bethany Hall-Long (D) going up against John Marino (R). The 10th SD has 32,245 voting eligible residents, of which there are 14,588 registered Dems, 9,385 registered Repugs, and 8,272 of the other varieties (Green, IPOD, unaffliated, Libertarian, etc). The district is 18.8% Black and 4.6% Latino. Hall Long was unopposed in 2012, and in 2008, she beat her GOP opponent 65% to 35%. But will her votes on social progressive issues hurt her this time around? She agonized over her vote for marriage equality, primarily because of that Glasgow mega church on Rt. 896 with their political signs out front (hopefully that church is being taxed to the hilt now). I don’t think so. I see Hall Long winning, but probably by a closer margin.
PREDICTION: Hall Long over Marino 58-42.
In the 4th SD, we have a newcomer in Sarah Buttner, who recently filed to take on the Republican Minority Whip and constant quotable Greg Lavelle (R). Beyond that, I don’t know much about her, but will be meeting with her soon. Lavelle is in his first term, having defeated Senator Mike Katz in 2008 after redistricting made the 4th SD more Republican. Yet, Lavelle barely won with 50.8% of the vote. That makes this seat look enticing, but registration numbers should give one pause: there are 12,044 Democrats to 12,884 Republicans, with 9,122 “others.” With Lavelle having high name recognition, being in the leadership of the GOP and quoted in every political news story over the last two years, you would have to expect that he has solidified his incumbent status better than your average rookie legislator.
PREDICTION: Lavelle over Buttner 65-35.
I will never understand why the Dems did not find someone to challenge blowhard Bonini in the 16th SD. Perhaps they still will by September 2, but it is usually not a good omen for success in the race if you are scrounging for a candidate past the first filing deadline. Colin Bonini (R) will be challenged by an IPOD candidate, Michael Tedesco, who will be a beneficiary of a protest vote from Democrats not having their own candidate. Bonini beat Tedesco 80 to 20 in 2012. The registration numbers in this district do give Dems false hope sometimes, in that the numbers are close: 11,504 Dems, 9,586 GOP, 7,607 Others.
PREDICTION: Bonini 73, Tedesco 27
In the 18th SD, in 2008, Gary Downes scored 45% against Gary Simpson, the Republican Minority Leader. Simpson went unopposed in 2012. But do Gary Wolfe and Patrick Emory sense that the district could be that competitive again as in 2008? I sense that Emory, just based off fundraising, will win the primary. If he does, this might be a close election. So I will keep my eye on it, and maybe move it down to another category. But for now…
PREDICTION: Simpson 54, Emory 46
Ok, so far, everything has stayed the same. Democratic incumbents have won. Republican incumbents have won. We only have three seats left. Our toss-ups.
One of them is Republican-held. So now you see why I say it is impossible for the GOP to win the Senate this year. Let’s say that the GOP defeats Brian Bushweller and Bob Venables, and picks up two seats, and let’s assume that Ernie Lopez holds off Claire Snyder-Hall. Where does the GOP get its third seat? The only possible option is the 10th Senate District above, where Bethany Hall-Long is being challenged by John Marino. I don’t see that happening. I think there is a better proposition that the 18th SD and the 4th SD become competitive before the 10th does.
In the 17th, I expect Senator Brian Bushweller (D) to hold off Kim Warfield (R). In Bushweller’s last competitive election in 2008, he won with 57% of the vote. Yet, the district is 36.7% Black and 5.5% Latino. Can the Republican Warfield, seen as a rising star among the GOP, galvanize African American voters to come out and vote for her? This race just has the feel of one that where the incumbent hangs on too long and then is surprised by a rising star. Then again, the registration advantage for the Democrats is strong: 15,012 D, 7,157 R, 7,148 O.
PREDICTION: Bushweller 52, Warfield 48.
In the 21st, Bob Venables was supposed to retire, at least, that is what the rumors said. But Venables is giving this race another go, and I suppose we Dems should be happy, since the only way we win the 21st is if Venables wins it. The registration numbers are deceptive. Yes, there are 11,017 Democrats, as compared to 10,328 Rs and 6,032 Others. But many of those Dems are Legacy Dems who vote straight line Republican. Venables beat Bryant Richardson 56 to 43 in 2012. I suspect that number may flip this time. It’s a mid term off year election. The conservative base downstate will be out. And while Mitch Crane has revitalized the Democratic Party in Sussex County and we are running great candidates in other SDs and RDs down there, I just don’t know if that is going to save Senator Venables.
PREDICTION: Richardson 51, Venables 49.
So we have a Republican pick up. 12-9!
But do the Democrats steal it right back in the 6th SD? I am hearing nothing but good reports from the ground in the race between Claire Snyder-Hall (D) and first term Senator Ernie Lopez (R). Lopez won in 2012 against Andy Staton 56-43. But there were reports that a great many voters downstate were pissed off about an outside group dropping an attack mailer against Lopez at the last minute, and they punished Staton for it. Was it really enough to sway the entire election? The demographics of this district are as favorable as any could be towards a Democrat in Sussex County: 14,784 D, 13,160 R, 9,013 O. Right now, I am feeling positive about this race because I think Mr. Lopez has angered his base just enough that they might not turn out for him this time (votes on repealing death penalty, supporting those evil fascist background checks when you buy a gun).
PREDICTION: Snyder-Hall 50.1, Lopez, 49.9
So the Senate will stay the same: 13 Dems, 8 Republicans
Finally, our statewides.
BARNEY 52, SIMPLER 48
MAYRACK 55, WAGNER 45