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One Week Later 16 September, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Election 2008, State.

How does the political landscape look a week after the primaries?

On the Republican side, it is pretty straight forward. Republicans feel under siege and are anxious to break out. The primary showed it. The primaries brought to the fore people the party most trusted to move its standard forward. In Sussex, it was bold colors not pale pastels. In the 4th Senate in New Castle County, the party turned to a person most associated with reforming the image of the party. Statewide, it backed the convention and went with a trusted, proven vote getter. Rank and file Republicans are determined to put their best foot forward. They believe the state has been grossly mismanaged and want to be the ones to get it right.

The Democrats are more complicated in some ways, yet one simple theme was clear. Democrats want to break from an establishment which failed them. Gordon represented the old ways and went down. A last minute challenge to the sitting county president drew a significant number of votes. The establishment favorite for insurance commissioner didn’t make it. Former Independent party standard bearer Karen Hartley Nagle won handily in the Congressional primary despite being out advertised by her opponents.

The big news was the governor’s race. Jack Markell took on the current administration and won. I had predicted that 25% or lower turnout would be a Carney victory; a higher turnout would be favor Markell. I also predicted record turnout. Markell won with three strengths, an economic plan that inspired the faith of primary voters, his rejection of current school testing, and a call for universal health care. Markell was a curious mixture of hard left and centrist positions. The right mix for primary voters.

Judge Lee’s non-participation in the forums has left him at a deficit. I hear voters feeling like they know Markell better. Judge Lee can change that with a new focus on the fall campaign. The flip side is that people are still ready to focus on him, which they may not have done if they felt like they knew him. The Bill Lee team has made a gamble only time will tell if it pays off.

What we know about the Markell plan is that it avoids answering the pressing problems facing the state. He avoids budget solutions. He avoids any talk of reforming the empty transportation trust fund. It has a lot of specifics except in cost projections. The opening line of the fall campaign that we can’t afford Jack’s book, may be the determining factor.

Jack Markell has not been a factor in calling for spending reform in the lastest budget crisis even when he was running against the administration. His plans call for more spending without the mention of off sets except in education. With less than 2 months, Markell may not be able to maneuver to the fiscal center. He is open to being labeled a tax and spend liberal not generally successful in DLC Delaware. The question is will it stick?

The game of good cop Markell and bad cop Minner could be a gambit to deal with this fact. The idea that a party loyalist like Minner would just be so hurt in public stretches belief. It may have been true that night, but it strikes me more as political posturing today.


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