Delaware Elections 2020: Race By Race-Part 1

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on January 1, 2019

“In the field of opportunity, it’s plowin’ time again.”- Neil Young.

Hoo, boy, ya’ think 2018 was fun?  Let’s just check out 2020.  Here’s who/what will be on the Election Day ballot:

US President: Yes, whether Trump runs could have an impact on Republican fortunes. If he does, support will be limited to western Sussex and some outposts in Kent. Period. If, say, he doesn’t, and say Nikki Haley gets the nomination, maybe some R suburban voters come home. Lotsa time to suss this one out, though.

US Senator: Chris Coons will run again. Once you’ve been anointed as perhaps Morning Joe’s fave senator, it’s tough to give up the spotlight.  Will there be a D primary? I don’t know.  How’s that for incisive analysis?

US Representative: This upcoming term will tell us more about whether LBR will be content to remain a career lightweight now that the D’s are in charge. She can actually sponsor legislation now.  Difficult to see a successful primary challenge. She’s in Washington for awhile. Unless…

Governor: The race upon which a whole lot of other races pivot. So many questions. Will John Carney run again? If he does run, he no doubt will have a serious primary challenge.  Remember his 2016 non-campaign? It was an insult to voters. He knew he was gonna win against ‘best bud’ Colin Bonini, and he didn’t deign to provide voters anything, anything, of substance.  His first term makes Ruth Ann Minner look competent by contrast. His few accomplishments are courtesy of the Chamber and the business community: An end to the estate tax, privatizing economic development so that business insiders and legislative hacks can dole out state funds with no public oversight…um, I’m thinking, I’m thinking. He’s presided over a disastrous melting-down of the prison system and has no solutions in sight. His stop-gap strategy? Send prisoners out of state, save $8 a day. He not only is not up to the task of being governor, he shows no interest in doing anything constructive as governor.  My fear is that more than one challenger will emerge, and the anti-Carney vote will be divvied up.  I’d love to see progressives coalesce around one strong challenger.  Don’t know who just yet, but I have every confidence that there will be one.

But what if Carney doesn’t run? We could be treated to a free-for-all primary not unlike the 2020 D presidential primary race.  Does LBR come back from Congress to run? Does Bethany Hall-Long look to step up? What about Matt Denn, Bryan Townsend, Matt Meyer, Eugene Young,  add your own names?  And if LBR runs, does Kerri Evelyn Harris run for the House seat? Who will primary her?  Like I said, a whole lot revolves around this particular race.

Lieutenant Governor: Incumbent Bethany Hall-Long is peripatetic.  She can’t sit still. And you can bet that she’s not content to see Carney screwing stuff up and damaging her perceived political future. She’s stuck, though. Does she maybe primary her boss, run for governor if he doesn’t seek reelection (that’s a firm yes), or maybe seek a seat being vacated by one of the challengers to Carney?  Hey, man, it’s the beginning of 2019, I just have questions, no answers.

Insurance Commissioner: Like most Delawareans, I have no idea whether Trinidad Navarro is doing a good job as IC.  He certainly hasn’t been the blatant screw-up that his predecessor was, which should be enough. If he opts not to run for something else, he could probably win reelection rather handily.  But, of course, two years is a long time.

Delaware State Senate:

The action will be hot and heavy here.  You think there were lots of changes in the Senate this year? Just you wait:

Senate District 1:  It looks like Harris McDowell is likely to retire after this term.  Word is that there’s an outstanding successor waiting in the wings. Outstanding, I tell you. However this is one of the most politically-engaged electorates in the state, and I find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t be multiple challengers for this seat.  I have a much higher regard for Harris than many of you, especially when you look at his entire career in context, but I think he stayed too long. 

Senate District 5: Whether via retirement or by defeat at the polls, I think this seat swings D in 2020Cathy Cloutier no longer lives in the district, the registration figures get more daunting by the day, she’s always run a mom-and-pop operation that will be insufficient against a well-organized challenger, and I think her being given a leadership position in a caucus that can’t stand her was the tip-off that it was a pension pad, and nothing more.  I’d love to see Sean Matthews run.  He, Laura Sturgeon, and Bryan Townsend would be a helluva public education caucus.  But, if Sean chooses to stay put in the House, I’ve been told that Cathy will have a formidable opponent regardless. BTW, once this seat flips, it stays flipped.

Senate District 7: Few people have a more difficult political decision to make than Anthony Delcollo.  He knocked off Patti Blevins in an upset that few saw coming back in 2016.  By all accounts, he is popular in his district.  However, being popular in your district and getting reelected in that district with Trump at the top of the ticket are two different things. Just look at those registration figures:  14,739 D; 6985 R; and 8631 I. Trump’s a lot less popular than he was even in 2016. Even good candidates get caught up in the wash under such circumstances (Ken Simpler, anybody?). And Delcollo presumably wouldn’t be running in a rematch with Blevins, who had become increasingly distant from her district. Delcollo is seen as the future (if it has a future) of the Republican Party in Delaware. So, does he run for Governor against an ineffectual John Carney, or does he run for reelection? Or does he just go back to fighting for the 2nd Amendment until the Trump stink-bomb clears?

State Senate District 8:  I’ve been given no indication that Dave Sokola will retire.  He did, however, win an uncomfortably-close reelection campaign against Meredith Chapman who, tragically, is no longer with us.  Dave doesn’t strike me as having the kind of ego that will make him want to overstay his welcome. The numbers have become solidly D in what once was a swing-R district.  For now, worth keeping an eye on this one, but there are no wisps of smoke yet.

State Senate District 9: While I would like to see a primary challenge to union guy John Walsh,  there are bigger fish to fry. Starting with…

State Senate District 12:  I assume that most loyal DL readers are familiar with how Nicole Poore has used her political office for personal and professional gain. She is every bit as ethically-bankrupt as Tony DeLuca was. Her office features a revolving door of lobbyists bearing gifts to this unworthy power-broker. SHE MUST BE PRIMARIED. If Delaware is becoming a one-party state, it’s up to Democrats to rid themselves of these leeches.  Charles Potter is gone.  Nicole Poore is even more of a leech than Potter (believe me, it pains me to write that sentence).  The district is so overwhelmingly Democratic that the primary winner will be the next senator.  Time to clean our own house.

State Senate District 13: It’s time. Dave McBride used to be a dependable D vote, and was a constituent services machine in his prime.  About 25 years ago. He now lives in Lewes (yes he ‘maintains a residence’ in the district) and buried progressive legislation as President Pro-Tem.  He’s also an old white guy in one of the more diverse Senate districts in the state. HE MUST BE PRIMARIED. No, he’s not corrupt like Nicole Poore, but then few are.  Just a guy whose time has passed and has nothing more to offer the voters.

State Senate District 14: Bruce Ennis is retiring.  While this district could be in play for the R’s, the registration figures are still strongly D: 16,982 D; 10,018 R; 9629 I. Theoretically a strong R could defeat a weak D if the circumstances are right, but this is not Trump country. Still we need to make sure that a weak D is not the nominee. Yes, I’m lookin’ at you, Lumpy Carson. Stay in your lane (not always easy after Happy Hour, I know, but still…), and let someone qualified run.  Who will that be? Hey, it’s New Years, readers, get off your lazy asses and give me some names. 

State Senate District 15: BREAKING NEWS (Of Sorts): Sen. Dave Lawson is retiring. Lead poisoning? Should the D’s play in this western Kent County District? Yes. The D’s committed political malpractice by not challenging Lawson in 2016. Back in 2012, one Kathleen Cooke got in the race late against Lawson, and almost beat him, garnering 47.7% against him. Then the D’s let him slide in 2016.  Betcha they find someone this time around. They’d better. The district has a modest D registration edge, it’s a district that was held by Nancy Cook forever. Yes, it has skewed R more than the registration would suggest. But a good candidate can win. Wouldn’t hurt if there’s a weak R waiting in the wings either.

State Senate District 19: Meh. Either incumbent Brian Pettyjohn or someone just like him (in the unlikely event that he retires) will represent this district. Next.

State Senate District 20. Meh. Either incumbent Gerald Hocker or someone just like him (in the more likely event that he retires) will represent this district.

Hey, you thought I was just gonna coast into the New Year?  Coming soon, or whenever I get around to it: Even more trenchant 2020 analysis from your trenchcoated sleepwalker.

Until then, Happy New Year!


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Comments (12)

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  1. Peter Briccotto says:

    Bring on the Cloutier “mom and pop” challenge! I’ll revel in it.

    You think Counihan wasn’t organized? He was, and she still won, because a majority of Demcrats respect her.

    Do you think the unions will suddenly turn on her after her years of support? Would you rather her switch parties like everyone has begged her to do?

    65% of the district is still independent/republican and Cathy is no Lavelle or Hudson.

    Cathy’s probably a better option than any hand picked candidate by Nicole Poore that will only serve to do her bidding. I’m fairly confident that a public servant would just be replaced by a Poore one.

    Does she have a personal life now, yup! Did her and her son moved? Not at all. There’s certainly no law saying you can spend evenings outside of your district. I won’t deprive you of the joy of sharing the “salacious” details!

    The year is young, and Cathy’s just getting started.

  2. Chris Counihan was a Third Way D who no doubt believes in ‘budget smoothing’ and spoke like a technocrat. I like him, but he didn’t pretend to be someone different than he was.

    Why don’t you go back and see how a real Democrat, Pat Morrison, did against Cathy? Almost beat her when the district was much more R. Before the current redistricting, in fact. Cathy was fortunate to run against a ‘name on the ballot’, Denise Bowers, in 2016. I voted for Cathy.

    Here’s where you give yourself away: “…any hand picked candidate by Nicole Poore that will only serve to do her bidding. I’m fairly confident that a public servant would just be replaced by a Poore one.”

    You really think a true progressive like Sean Matthews would be in the bag for Nicole Poore? Hey, a lot of D’s are trying to get rid of Nicole Poore. She’s in no position to handpick Cloutier’s successor. Someone like Sean Matthews would be in a position to vote her out of leadership, should she survive her own race. Cloutier, of course, would not be.

    Not to mention that baseball is so inside that only people like you or me would know what you’re talking about.

    Hey, I LIKE Cathy. But I don’t see her surviving. Not in a year when Trump is on the ballot and the registration will almost certainly be worse than the current registration. Which is: 14,477 D; 10,622 R; and 8620 I.

    Oh, and “Cathy’s just getting started”? Bravado, with no facts behind them.

  3. Jason330 says:

    Peter, you left a big question unanswered. Why? Why would she run? That’s a D pickup any way you slice it.

    BTW – awesome blogging. Great kickoff to 2019

  4. BTW, Peter–I have great respect for what you do. Any disagreements we have here are in no way personal. We need more people like you.

    Oh, and one more thing–you COULD be right. This is my take, and my take alone.

  5. Peter Briccotto says:

    You know I love the work all of you do, and totally agree – nothing personal! I truly just belive she’s one of the few who cares about people above themselves. She’s the only Republcian I can support without question, and it’s strictly because of what work she’s actually done in her community. (after Spadola’s nonsense, I swore off all do them!)

    Sean Matthews is one of them too. My family lives in the district, and I would love to see him become their Senator! As for Pat Morrison – that was before I was involved in her campaigns, and could encourage her to not care what the DEGOP had to say.

    Maybe I’m naive, but knowing the behind the scenes nonsense, I’d like to see Cathy make her mark one last time to stick it to the people that believe they can control the state. She has vision, and bills to pass – and after all the votes she’s cast, it would be nice for the choke hold from leadership be released.

  6. I share Jason’s sentiments. She’s got some happiness in her life now. She’s got nothing left to prove. And I believe that she’s likely to lose. She’s gonna have to campaign like she did almost 20 years ago, which is not easy when you get older and have other priorities. With her leadership position comes a boost in her pension, and it’s been used in the past as a golden parachute. Herman Holloway Sr. comes to mind. Probably Margaret Rose Henry as well, come to think of it.

  7. Joshua W says:

    While I respect Senator Cloutier, I think her time is drawing to a close. There are a lot of great young progressives in her district that I think would be much better at reflecting the changing values of the district’s constituents.

  8. jason330 says:

    I agree that Bethany Hall-Long is at a fork in the road. I think her best hope for higher office is that Carper or Carney croak or quit.

  9. Dpw110778 says:

    Word on the street is that Sean has been asking around and meeting with stakeholders to lay the groundwork for what a run in 2020 might look like. A lot of the 10th house district is in the 5th senate district so he would certainly have a running start. He does seem to have a good working relationship with Cathy so who knows if he’d run against her. However with Trump on the ticket she’s likely to lose anyway so maybe he will run.

  10. jason330 says:

    Similarly, when Dave Sokola retires I could see Paul Baumbach moving up.

    • Joshua W says:

      I dunno. I hear there’s not a lot of love lost between Sokola and Baumbach.

      • Senators don’t really get to hand-pick their successors.

        However, I’m not sure that Paul is the best fit in that district. It’s more of a Hockessin-centered district with not that much of Newark in it. He’d have to introduce himself to a lot of voters who don’t know him. He could do it, but I doubt that he’d have the field to himself.