NORMAL IS THE NEW NORMAL

11/2016

By: Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

NORMAL IS THE NEW NORMAL. Delaware has had its share of strange elections. A Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate protesting she was not a witch. A Democratic state senator nearly undone when the Republicans caught her husband making off with their political signs and videotaped him. A Republican candidate winning a legislative primary and then fleeing off the ballot because of an accusation of 20-year-old child sex crimes.

Not this time. While there is bedlam a-plenty in the presidential race, notably because of “Access Hollywood” and “Access Email,” it has not spilled down the ballot into Delaware. Instead, the election here is muddling along in a familiar political rut.

Got to know a governor. The voters are emphatic about this one. They simply will not elect a governor who has not already run and won statewide. They have insisted on it since 1972. This is a small state, and people like to know the governor personally, or at least think they do.

So say hello to Governor John Carney. All he has is five statewide victories behind him, namely, three as the current Democratic congressman and two as lieutenant governor. Besides, a poll conducted for the University of Delaware pegged him at 60 percent among likely voters.

Colin Bonini, a state senator who is the Republican candidate, has run but not won statewide. He lost a close race for treasurer in 2010. Not to mention the voters have not elected a Republican governor since 1988.

Sayonara, Vermont and Mississippi. Delaware does not like its politics to embarrass it. This is the main reason the voters ousted the mayor in a Democratic primary after Wilmington was derided as “Murder Town USA” and his reaction was to go into the bunker.

Here in 2016, nearly a century after women got the right to vote, it really would not do if the country elected a woman as president before Delaware broke the gender barrier in its own three-member federal delegation.

Enter Lisa Blunt Rochester, the Democratic congressional candidate. She looks like she can take care of it. The UD poll had her up, 50 percent to 28 percent, over Hans Reigle, the Republican candidate. It should also be noted that not only would Rochester be the first woman to join the Delaware delegation, but also its first African-American member.

For now, Delaware is one of three states, along with Vermont and Mississippi, never to send a woman to Capitol Hill. Vermont is in the same situation as Delaware, a little state that tends to elect its senators and representative again and again and again and again.

Mississippi will have to speak for itself.

Color wars. Normal in the General Assembly is Democratic control. This goes all the way back to 1973 in the state Senate, where the Democrats currently outnumber the Republicans by 12-9, and to 2008 in the state House of Representatives, where the Democratic margin is 25-16.

The Republicans are making an all-out effort to flip the state Senate from Democratic blue to Republican red by targeting four Democratic state senators, including Patti Blevins, the president pro tem, but the odds are long.

So there it is. Not even a whiff of an October Surprise here. Still, Election Day is so late this year, there is actually a little time for a November Surprise, although it would not be – what is the word? – normal.

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