Brutal election shows Republicans can't win Delaware (Matt Albright)

As pointed out in this editorial, Republicans in the First State fared very poorly in this year’s election. The GOP lost all five state-wide races, with margins ranging from decisive to humiliating; several veteran legislators were knocked out too including Sen. Greg Lavelle.

Treasurer Ken Simpler had been seen as the Republican’s candidate for governor in 2020, but he lost handily to first-time candidate Colleen Davis, and there doesn’t appear to be anyone waiting in the wings who could credibly fill this role. What happened? “Maybe it was rage at President Trump, maybe his message got lost in the noise, but Simpler just couldn’t overcome the huge registration advantage Democrats enjoy in Delaware.”

Statewide, Democrats have a 135K registration edge and their margin is growing rather than shrinking. Republicans predominate in Sussex County, but they are badly overmatched in New Castle County, which has a far larger population. The old strategy of running moderate Republicans (fiscally conservative, socially liberal) like Mike Castle, who could attract a lot of independent votes, is no longer working.

So now Republicans seem to be falling back on more conservative candidates, like Rob Arlett, who just lost to Tom Carper in the US Senate race. But this approach hasn’t been paying off, and until Republicans “find some way to break out of this mold, they will be firmly limited to minority status.”

The writer goes on to profess himself a moderate Democrat and argue that one-party rule, with the decisive elections taking place in the Democratic primaries, isn’t good for the voters or the state. That way, “only Democrats really get a say in who leads our state,” even though they are less than half of the total electorate (including independents). Just undemocratic – “a potential recipe for complacency and corruption” – Republicans need to “stop playing base-obsessed hard right-wing politics and claw their way back into relevance on the statewide scene. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Query: How good a job have the Democrats been doing in running the state and are Republicans offering attractive alternatives or simply offering watered-down versions of Democratic policies? If the issues don’t matter, elections become little more than a popularity contest.

Also, it’s not hard to infer what may be proposed pretty soon, namely a primary system in which the two highest candidates face off in the general election without regard to party affiliation. Such “jungle primaries” are already the rule in California, why not in Delaware? The drawback would be to speed the downfall of the two-party system and ultimately make all established parties irrelevant.

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