Delaware Political Weekly: March 2-8, 2018

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on March 9, 2018

1. Miro Retires, D Primary Set In RD 22.  One of the worst-kept political secrets in Dover is secret no more. State Rep. Joe Miro announced yesterday that he would retire at the end of this legislative session.  This immediately becomes a top D pickup opportunity as two credible candidates have already filed.  Those two candidates are Guillermina Gonzalez  and Renee Taschner (I’ll link to Taschner’s website when it’s operative, which it’s not as of yet).  I’m very impressed with Gonzalez’ community-building skills. And I was impressed with Renee Taschner when she challenged the slimy Gordon machine during her run for County Council President back in 2012.  While she lost to Chris Bullock, she showed that she could run a countywide race. She even earned the enmity of Nancy Willing during Nancy’s ‘character assassination on behalf of Tom Gordon’ phase.  Contrast the D choices with, well, what the Rethugs are looking at.  We likely have Michael Smith, who primaried Miro in 2014 and got 43% of the vote, and, well alri-i-i-i-ght, Fred Cullis!? Smith says he’s looking at the race, and Cullis has put together a campaign committee, according to the Delaware State News.  For those of you who may have forgotten, Fred Cullis was gonna run for Congress in 2010 as a ‘Trump before Trump’ candidate.  He settled on running against Patti Blevins for her State Senate seat and got 39% of the vote. In other words, the ‘generic R’ vote. Here’s his candidate profile from 2010.  My favorite excerpt?: “Fred understands careful contemplation when taking risks.”

2. Ernie Lopez Gets A D Challenger. And he’s a credible challenger, at least from the standpoint of his resume.  In a Delaware Way, um, way. David ‘Dave’ Baker. From the Delaware State News profile:

He served in Sussex County government from 1978 to 2012, holding positions of accounting director, finance director and finally county administrator. He points to strong fiscal bona fides, a record of nonpartisan service under Republicans and Democrats, a focus on issues, and a history of results as cornerstones of his campaign.

OK, questions, I’ve got questions. By his own admission, he was present for the rampant overdevelopment of eastern Sussex County.  What role did he play in ensuring that common sense would prevail over rampant greed?  But my biggest question is this: Is he running at the behest of Pete Schwartzkopf, at the behest of someone else, or completely on his own? We all know of the (figurative) incestuous relationships between Pistol Pete, Park City Kathy, and Ernie Lopez.  I find it difficult to believe that Baker would run w/o at least the tacit approval of Schwartzkopf.  Which raises the question, “Why?”  I’m probably overthinking it, but hey I (don’t) get paid to overthink. It just strikes me that there’s something Byzantine about this candidacy. Sussex spies, what saieth thou?

3. Rep. J. J. Johnson Makes Retirement Official.  Only people who pay close attention realize what a great legislator Rep. Johnson has been.  A selfless and low-key public servant who has effected major positive change during his time in Dover.  Nobody has done more to effectively advance the cause of criminal justice than Rep. Johnson.  Of all the legislators who have announced their retirements this session, no single loss will be felt as profoundly as that of Rep. Johnson. His replacement will be a Democrat.  With registration figures like these: 10,782D; 1672R; and 2855 I, it’s likely that not even Herman Holloway, Jr. could lose this seat…although I wouldn’t want to put that theory to a test.  So far, the only announced candidate is Jakim Mohammed, who at least demonstrates some potential to carry on Johnson’s efforts on criminal justice reform.  Here’s what he said during a panel on police stops:

Panelist Jakim Mohammed, a retired New York police officer and a Democratic Party representative, said the standard for police use of force – that they fear for their life – could use updating.

“We don’t want a Sandra Bland in Delaware,” he said, referring to a black woman found dead in a jail cell after a minor traffic violation last year. “If (the law) is so vague you can run a bulldozer through it, you have to be a part of change. Get political.” Mohammed also suggested the formation of a civilian complaint review board.

I generally am (to borrow a Greg Lavelle word) loath to support any police officer running for office.  This guy could be the exception.  We’ll see if anybody else joins the fray.

4. Memo To Sherry Dorsey Walker: Don’t Do It.  You know Sherry Dorsey Walker. She almost defeated Bob Marshall in a State Senate primary in 2014.  She finished second in her try for Lt. Governor in 2016. Oh, and garnered nearly 3000 more votes than Park City Kathy in the process.  She passed on a rematch with Marshall this year, apparently viewing the State Senate as beneath her.  I’m not gonna lie. I am totally unimpressed with Walker, and in general am unimpressed with candidates who fancy themselves as inspirational speakers of the life counselor ilk.  Give me substance, not that touchy-feely crap.   Having said that, hey, she outpolled Park City Kathy last time. Why not run for something that both are equally unqualified for? State Auditor. Or, challenge Ken Simpler. She’s got a shot.  However, word on the street is that Dorsey Walker is now reconsidering her decision to sit out the Senate race.  Don’t do it.  Tizzy Lockman is running one of the best and most substantive campaigns I’ve seen in recent memory.  The entry of Walker in this race is the only development that could prevent progressive change from coming to this district.  Just don’t do it.

5. Kathleen Davies To Run…As A Democrat. It’s immaterial as to whether she’s the best qualified candidate in the field, which she likely is.  She is simply not gonna win a D primary against the peripatetic Kathy McGuiness.  She was gonna run as an independent, she could have run as an R and maybe won the general election.  Which is why I’m puzzled as to why she’s running as a D.  We still have the questions about her being placed on administrative leave seemingly forever.  But, with Wagner as her boss, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just being a partisan dick. Dick, as in Cathcart.

That’s it for this week.  What’d I miss, and whaddayathink?


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  1. SussexWatcher says:

    So Dave Baker was the county administrator, running the day-to-day operations. The decisions and vision on land use and development are in the hands of the county council. You’re casting blame on the wrong person.

    Baker was hired by a conservative Democratic council and kept on by a Republican one. He’s about as nonpartisan of a guy as you can find; I actually thought he was a Republican. Very smart and good on the financial stuff. Highly competent. Introverted and quiet. This is kind of a head-scratcher.

  2. Not casting blame, SW, just asking questions. Which you’ve helped to answer. Except for the headscratcher thing.

  3. SussexWatcher says:

    I was responding to Jason’s smears yesterday.

  4. Mitch Crane says:

    I can tell you that the idea to run this year was Mr. Baker’s. As a long-time resident of Milton, he was considering running either for the 6th Senate seat of Ernie Lopez or the 20th House seat of Steve Smyk. I have no reason to believe he was recruited by anyone. Another Democrat filed to run in the 20th and the only other person known to be interested in t he 6th, Georgetown attorney and Milton resident Brian Dolan (who ran in the old 36th against George Carey in 2004) has not made his decision known.

  5. OK, Mitch, I’ll bite. Do Pete and/or Kathy endorse his candidacy? For that matter, do Pete and/or Kathy support ANY challenge to Ernie Lopez?

    Don’t tell me you don’t know. Unless your lips have been surgically removed from Pete’s ass, you’re in a better position to know than anybody.

  6. Mitch Crane says:

    I have not had a discussion with either about any Sussex County race. I can tell you that I advised Kathy, as I do anyone running for office, to stay out of all other races. So I believe she will stay out of the 6th Senate race until she determines there is no Primary, or if there is, until after that Primary. As a Democratic Party candidate, she and Pete would be expected to support the entire Party ticket. The bottom line is they would both be expected to support the Democrat running for State Senate.

    While I do not know what conversations Pete has had with people thinking about running or who have decided to run for office, I can tell you that the Democrat’s selection process for office in Sussex County, since the Dixiecrats lost control has been for the RD committees to recruit candidates for the State House. As county chair I only stepped in when asked to help or where the RDs failed to recruit anyone. When people called me to say they were interested in running, I met with them and answered their questions, and then referred them to the RD Chair.

    For offices such as State Senate and for County Row and County Council offices, I worked with the RD committees and, where necessary, recruited people. In my four years as chair, Pete respected my role and only got involved when I asked his help in convincing people to run and assisting them when they became candidates. Understand that the only office I currently hold is that of a committee person in the 14th RD. My involvement relative to the 2018 election has been limited to answering questions and giving advice when requested to. As Chief Deputy Insurance Commissioner, until 2/16/18, I had to represent the Commissioner in advocating his legislative agenda. That required me to work with all elected officials and, at the request of the Commissioner, I minimized my political advocacy.

    The process I detailed above works very differently in Sussex because, unlike above the ditch, a Democrat running for office is the underdog. Sane and qualified people have to be recruited and cajoled-without unrealistic promises.

    I would assume that under current county chair Jane Hovington, the process I outlined is the same.

  7. RE Vanella says:

    I’d like more stories about how liberal you use to be. They’re fun. Nostalgia…

  8. Rufus Y. Kneedog says:

    The only thing I can think of with Davies is maybe she burned bridges with Wagner somewhere along the line and can’t be an R. Or possibly she knows a candidate is coming in on the R side. I agree she has no chance in the D primary.
    I can’t imagine the Rs sit this one out.

  9. Dave says:

    “he was considering running either for the 6th Senate seat of Ernie Lopez or the 20th House seat of Steve Smyk. ”

    I think Smyk would have been a easier hill to climb. It’s not that Lopez is unbeatable, but he is (as I said somewhere) ubiquitous.

  10. Bill B says:

    I would have preferred that Baker run against Smyk for the 20RD seat. While he might have a decent chance against Lopez, I think he could very likely have gotten rid of Smyk for us, who in my opinion needs to be sent into retirement much more than Lopez does.

  11. Mitch Crane says:

    I agree with Dave and Bill B. The 20th is more manageable financially; Baker has a base in Lewes and Milton; Lopez runs about 6 points ahead of Smyk. Smyk had a close race against Marie Mayor in 2012. Lopez ran in 12 and 14 against two well-qualified and well-funded opponents ( Andy Staton and Claire Snyder-Hall). He won comfortably both times. The decision on where to run was Baker’s. He was probably influenced by another D already filing against Smyk.

  12. RE Vanella says:

    We strive for financial manageability and comfortable results!

  13. Mitch Crane says:

    We try to do what is most doable

  14. RE Vanella says:

    No shit. That’s why you suck. The government blows, but at least you insiders know who should run where. Keep up the good work.

  15. RE Vanella says:

    We determine what may be possible. Then we make our best attempt. We convene a “task force”, waste six months, and give up.

    As long as we can funnel money to the oligarchs and the affluent we can keep this thing together!

    The Delaware Way. You and yours should be incredibly proud.

  16. Mitch Crane says:

    You are much too young to be so bitter and cynical.

  17. RE Vanella says:

    How old am I?*

    *(N.B. I’m not “incorrect” only bitter and cynical, which I take as a compliment.)

  18. Dave says:

    “We try to do what is most doable”

    Someone has read Cervantes. A very influential book for those that can understand the underlying messages. The rest content themselves with tilting at windmills.

  19. RE Vanella says:

    Spoken like a man knocked over by the lightest breeze. Petrified of a real fight.

    Just say you’re scared and be done with it.

  20. RE Vanella says:

    New slogan:

    Seeking the path of no resistance.

    Really make a mark in this world, folks.

  21. Mitch Crane says:

    RE Vanella- You are 43 ( I am 71 this month). You are registered No Party, though you did register Dem so you could vote in the Presidential Primary in 2016. You live in WIlmington and are in the 4th RD and 1st Senate District.

    I am not seeking any path. I have made my mark on the world and am quite happy with what I have accomplished in my life and having no current position of authority with the freedom to say what I think. I do care what people who no me think, but having been beaten and arrested multiple times for what I believe, I really have little concern, sir, when people like yourself, who do not know me, form such strong opinions of me. There are others who blog here who do know me, and I respect their disappointment with some of my stated positions. Happy to sit down with you, Mr. Vanella, and let you know me better and learn to find valid reasons to not care for me.

  22. Dave says:

    Stop being silly. Not all battles can be won and not all of them can be won on the front lines. Man the barricades and march in the streets. Those things generate momentum and energy and thus are useful. Regardless and unfortunately, true change comes at a pace you will never be content with. We all get that, because you tell everyone every day.

    What you seem to ignore (or don’t know) is that revolution seldom results in the lasting change you desire. What usually results is a whole lot of casualties and unintended consequences. So you can spit out all the taunts you can muster. It is simply noise that has no meaning, purpose, or consequence.

  23. RE Vanella says:

    I’ve also been involved in some political actions myself as you are probably aware.

    As someone with such a pedigree you have a lot of ex-cop friends. Not only friends but people you’ve served and continue to serve politically. I find this extremely troubling and borderline grotesque.

    You’ve accomplished nothing in politics because you think it’s a middle management gig. It isn’t. It’s about fighting for power to enact policies you care about. What do you care about?

    You think nibbling around the edges is some noble act. It’s fucking embarrassing. Delaware’s an international tax haven and we can’t seem to find the scratch to have superior public schools. And it’s the fault of you and yours.

    You reminded me I need to switch that registration back to vote for Kerri Harris. Thought I had done. Truthfully though even registering Democrat to vote for Bernie and Kerri makes me uneasy.

    I’d gladly sit down with you. I’d say I’d meet you at a Network event, but those people are actually fighting for something. Maybe not your scene anymore.

    I’m going to the record shop in like 90 minutes. Will probably drain a few pints after. You up for it? You’re down south though. Late notice.

    Anyhow, you’re obviously on to me. Keep going. I’m around. Warning, I’m just as angry and miserable in person, but do it with some self deprecation so it’s much funnier.

  24. RE Vanella says:

    Dave..I wasn’t talking to you. You don’t even know what I’m talking about or what I’m doing. Stop wasting my fucking time.

  25. Mitch Crane says:


    Not tonight

    Happy to come up another time

  26. RE Vanella says:

    Mitch… Let’s do it. For real.

    Look me up in your databases or however.

    Beers on me.

  27. RE Vanella says:

    Dave’s not invited.

  28. Mitch Crane says:

    I’m a cheap date. No longer drink.

  29. TonyDem says:

    So this was the 3rd dem that was rumored to be entering the race for Auditor? Disappointing :(

  30. True. But I could well vote for her.

  31. TonyDem says:

    Still holding out hope for another better candidate and at least one for Treasuer

  32. AQC says:

    A couple years ago I predicted the Dems would be back in the basement by this election cycle. I hope I’m wrong.

  33. Jakim Mohammed will not have the 16th RD all to himself. Linwood Jackson of the Delaware NAACP Conference has announced his intention to join the race. Here is Jackson speaking about the bus service issue re Rodney Square:

  34. Alby says:

    “The bottom line is they would both be expected to support the Democrat running for State Senate.”

    There’s a lot of things that, as a Democrat, Pete would be expected to do. But he’s not a Democrat, he’s a State Police.

    You’re not a quick study, Mitch.

  35. Alby says:

    Just wondering, #metoo style: WTF is Larry Mendte doing on the air, even a low-minor-league gig like the one he has? He’s actually been found guilty of sexual harassment in a court of law.

    Between Tom Carper and Larry Mendte, Delaware is becoming a haven for stalkers and wife-beaters.

  36. Don’t forget that law-abidin’ former legislator from Sussex County.

  37. Alby says:

    Oh, right. I forgot to add kinky virgin-groomers. They’re welcome, too (SuxCo only).

  38. spktruth says:

    Alby your correct. The Democrats in Sussex who call themselves progressives are a joke. They are simply living in the center. We don’t need another cop in our legislature whether they call themselves dem or repub…their mindset comes from being a cop.