Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Progressive Update--9/10/2008--Delaware State Primary WrapUp

Scorecard on my candidate support
US Congress—FAILURE. My endorsed candidate Jerry Northington received only 10% of the vote. Karen Hartley Nagle won with a strong 55% of the vote. In retrospect, her name recognition (she has run more than once before), and her endorsements (by the party bosses, by politicians, and by groups including unions) enabled her to overcome low fundraising. I suspect that the women’s vote in Delaware helped her (and another Karen) yesterday. I am hopeful that this does not bode well for McCain/Palin.
Governor—SUCCESS. This is the main story yesterday. Jack Markell won a close (51%) victory over party-boss favorite John Carney. This came from tremendous organization, grass roots support, and a clear vision. This victory showed that the party-bosses are out of touch with Delaware Democratic voters, and need to be shown the door. The people can, and do make change happen, and in Delaware Democratic voters are fed up with ‘the Delaware Way’ of back-room politics. It is a new day!
Insurance Commissioner—No grade, for I did not endorse. I was SURPRISED that Karen Weldin Stewart won (42.5%) over party-boss favorite Gene Reed (39%). Again, in retrospect, I feel that two factors permitted this underdog to win. Women likely helped Karen, and just as importantly, the Delaware Democratic voters surprised me by standing up for ethics. Gene Reed (legally) took in notable contributions from folks tied to firms that the DE Insurance Commissioner’s office contracts with. This clearly fails the smell test to me, and apparently to 42.5% of the voters. I am proud of the voters in electing Karen. She will be facing John Brady, who is reported to be a fairly progressive Republican candidate.
County Executive—SUCCESS. Again ethics mattered to voters, who gave Chris Coons almost a 30% margin over disgraced Tom Gordon.
County Council President—No grade, for I was perched on the fence. Incumbent Paul Clark won with 57% of the vote against late-filing candidate Bill Dunn. I am hopeful that Clark will recognize that Dunn’s 43% showing, given the brief and low-cost campaign run by Dunn makes clear that voters are concerned about uncontrolled development in New Castle County, and that they are willing to stand up to elected officials who forget that.
State Senate District 6—No grade again. Here Newark-resident (and late-filing candidate) John Mackenzie squeaked out a narrow victory (51% to 49%) over Hockessin-resident Mike Terranova. Mike had campaigned long and hard, and had many endorsements (including the party-bosses), however he was unable to win in this gerrymandered district with 80% of the voters living in Newark. Hopefully this disadvantage will prevent Republican incumbent (and admittedly nice lady) Liane Sorenson from beating John Mackenzie in November.
State Senate District 4—Mike Katz scored a strong victory (63%) over Dee Durham, and will face Republican John Clatworty in the district currently served by Charles Copeland (who is running for Lieutenant Governor). Katz is a great candidate and a great guy.
County District 12—I had hoped that Tom Scherer could unseat incumbent Bill Bell, but Bell won with 65% of the vote. It is hard for a shoestring campaign to unseat an incumbent, even when the incumbent does a poor job of representing his district. As with Paul Clark, however, I am hopeful that Bill Bell will see this as a wakeup call and be more mindful of smart-growth in the future.
State Representative 41—Delaware Loses. Disgraced Republican (but I repeat myself) John Adkins switched parties to try to win back his seat in the house (after he was forced to resign in an ethics scandal). The district Democratic voters gave him 54% of the vote in a head-scratcher. I guess that name recognition trumps character in the 41st district.

I will post my take on ‘races that matter’ in a week or two.
Obama Update—I am among several folks organizing Drive to Change, carpools to PA to canvass in our neighboring swing state. If you are interested in this opportunity, please follow these two steps. First, register at Also consider signing into appropriate groups (Students for Obama, Delaware for Obama, Newark for Obama, Women for Obama, Hillary Supporters for Obama, etc). Second, check this a few days ahead of time for volunteer opportunities. I will try to have my Saturday Drive for Change events up sometime Wednesday each week. This is much more efficient and effective that a slew of volunteer-maintained email lists.

Mini-diary/blog from yesterday.
I voted at 8am, saw a friend Tom who was a poll worker. My almost-19-year-old son Mike voted the first time a little later, and my wife took a picture of this. I headed to the office for a little catch-up.
I agreed to work my local poll for Jack Markell, at Downes Elementary in Newark, from 10-1 and from 4-8. We had John Mackenzie and friends of Mike Terranova (the two candidates for the 6th senate district) for the entire time. Mike Terranova was there for at least a quarter of the time, as he spent time at several of the 14 voting locations in this race. As this was the most populous voting location for the race, Mackenzie spent his whole time here. We had one volunteer for Gene Reed in the morning, one for Chris Coons in the afternoon, and one intern for Planned Parenthood for much of my first shift.
Voter traffic was modest throughout the day, a steady trickle. Speaking of trickle, we had some serious rain around 11am or so. It gave some of us the opportunity to walk voters from their car to the building under our large umbrellas. We had about 530 voters overall, over 11 hours, or about 50 per hour.
One of the most interesting aspects of working a poll is the human interactions (or lack thereof). Many voters treat poll workers as lepers—at all cost, avoid eye contact! My standard line is ‘thank you for voting’, and occasionally ‘Jack Markell appreciates your vote’. Fortunately, shortly into my first shift the other poll worker gave me her (too large for her) Markell shirt, and so I convinced myself that if I got the voter’s attention with a friendly greeting, they would get the message that Jack Markell is a nice guy with nice friends.
I like both John Mackenzie and Mike Terranova, and I enjoyed time I spent chatting to each of them, and with their volunteers. (I also appreciated the subs and spring water that Mike Terranova provided.) John clearly had a more grass-roots shoe-string approach, but make no mistake—it was carefully planned and executed. He and his volunteers did a wonderful job of determining what it would take to win, and then delivering.
The most touching moment came at 7:58pm when an older couple (in their 90s) arrived in the parking lot, but took too long to make it to the building. The poll workers followed the letter of the rules, and did not permit these nice folks to vote when they got to the line after 8. As these voters supported John, Mackenzie noted that he would feel terrible if he lost by 2 or fewer votes.
I waited until 8:15 or so when the tallies of the four voting machines were posted on the school entrance door. I scribbled furiously, and headed to my car, and began the drive to Markell’s HQ on the Riverfront (100 yards from Carney’s HQ). The place was hopping, even though by 9pm it was too close to call. The energy level rose steadily as the last few precincts reports came in.
I saw many friends, and folks who worked tremendously hard for Markell. Jack was mobbed by supporters when he arrived, and to no one’s surprise, his acceptance speech was great. I stayed pretty long, long enough to see Senator Tom Carper arrive, chat with Jack, and give a few words to the media. John Kowalko also arrived, and had a nice chat with Jack. I spoke with Senator Sokola about his past and future work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. I introduced myself to Mike Katz, who won the primary in the 4th senate district. I was very impressed with him.
PDD members Rebecca Young and June Eisley were on top of the world, with Jack’s success over the RDD (Regressive Democrats of Delaware). As with John Kowalko’s victory in 2006, we have now seen that idealistic people can make a difference, and can bring change to Delaware.
I saw several Obama volunteers, who all see Markell’s victory as confirmation that a smart, good candidate can win, that voters take their responsibility seriously, and can join together to move their state (country) forward.
Yes, we can.

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