Delaware, “The First State,” has been reliably blue since Governor Dale E. Wolf left office in 1993. The state of Delaware consists of three counties. Northernmost New Castle County includes the City of Wilmington as well as the wealthy and exclusive western suburbs where Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s compound is located. Sussex County, in the South, is largely rural with an increasingly significant retired and “alternative lifestyle” population in the beach communities. In the center is Kent County which has a mixed rural and suburban population. Here is located the state capitol of Dover as well as the large Dover Air Force Base.
A great blue stain has, predictably, run southward over the past ten years. The banking center of Wilmington has attracted great numbers of urban transplants from New York and other large cities. Kent County is rapidly becoming a massive bedroom community for Wilmington and Philadelphia, and Sussex County is being transformed into an AARP stronghold. Additionally, in Sussex County, the Latino population has increased as migrant farm workers settle in the inland areas.
Added to these factors, the Delaware Republican establishment has increasingly suffered from a geriatric “old boy” approach bordering on pure corruption. Republican House leaders have rightly been accused of nepotism and influence peddling. This writer has personal experience, at the committee level, with attempting to promote conservative reform within the party. These efforts have been shut down with dispatch.
In 2008 the chickens came home to roost. Democrats gained control of the State House and solidified their control of the Senate. They elected a new governor and re-elected Joe Biden to the Senate. This action occurred, despite the fact that he faced a young and dynamic Republican challenger, Christine O’Donnell, and the fact that he refused to debate and failed to even campaign in the state. More ominously, for the first time, Kent and Sussex counties have gone over to the dark side. Republicans did manage to hold the state’s single U.S. House seat. This seat is held by the liberal career politician, Mike Castle.
What should be the first step for “First State” Conservatives? It has been a “trickle down decline.” And in the words of our new “Great Leader,” it needs to be a “bottom up recovery.” There will never be a better time in Delaware, or in the nation, to clean house and implement new strategies. Rather than abandon the GOP, now is the time for frustrated conservatives to get back into the fight. The old guard is demoralized, and Republican district committees, state-wide, are ripe for a conservative takeover. Quality candidates for state office may be recruited and a foothold regained. Districts where enclaves of conservatism exist in the North can be reclaimed. In the center of the state, dissatisfaction over future cuts in defense spending will need to be exploited. Also, in the South, there must be meaningful Latino outreach. Latinos in this state are strong social conservatives. They have been ignored by the GOP locally and frightened by the party nationally. Simply sponsoring Latino/GOP picnics in the rural areas, with opportunities for discussion, will go along way. Finally, the enormous potential of Christine O’Donnell should not be squandered on a futile special 2010 election challenge to the mystery senator who will be appointed to replace Joe Biden. Rather, she should be enlisted for a stealth attack on the intellectually arthritic and liberal RINO, Rep. Mike Castle.
In 1787 Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 2010 Delaware has the chance to reclaim a leadership role and be the first State to begin pushing back the blue tide of socialism.