Posted: Oct. 21, 2014
By Celia Cohen
The Democrats can do the math. There are 125,000 more Democratic voters than Republican voters here in Delaware.
Except this is a non-presidential election year, which Democrats are more inclined to skip than Republicans are. This time there is no halo effect with Obama at the top of the ballot to bring out the Democrats and maybe even more to the point in this state, no glow from a Joe Biden Effect.
It is a challenge. As John Daniello, the Democratic state chair, is fond of saying, the Republicans do not win statewide elections in Delaware, the Democrats lose them.
With the voting two weeks away on Tuesday, Nov. 4, there is a sense the 2014 election could have one or two of those paradoxical spots on the ballot where the outcome turns more on the Democrats losing than the Republicans winning.
Not at the top of the ticket, where Chris Coons, the Democratic senator, and John Carney, the Democratic congressman, and Matt Denn, the Democratic lieutenant governor running for attorney general, have collectively won eight statewide races and drew only weak Republican opponents.
Instead, a fierce uncertainty has invaded the lower reaches of the statewide ballot.
The open race for state treasurer is a seesaw between Sean Barney for the Democrats and Ken Simpler for the Republicans, and the state auditor's race has Tom Wagner trying to pull off one of his patented escape acts, which have kept him as the Republican officeholder for 25 years, against Brenda Mayrack for the Democrats.
The Democrats began the final push to get out the vote Monday evening at their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, which about 300 people attended at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 74 Hall in Glasgow, south of Newark.
"For several years now, we have gotten used to winning," said Jack Markell, the Democratic governor, during his remarks at the dinner.
"Public opinion is fickle. We can take nothing for granted. This will be the hardest year we've faced in a long, long time, but working together, we will not let the tide turn."
Whatever the Democratic misgivings, the numbers are still on their side. If the voters come out the way they did in 2010 in the last mid-term, when 50 percent of the Democrats and 56 percent of the Republicans went to the polls, there would be 50,000 more Democrats than Republicans voting.
Not all was woe at the Jefferson-Jackson. This was due in large part to the keynote speech by Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, an engaging speaker who came across as a practitioner of the politics of joy.
Minnesota and Delaware would not seem to be much alike. Minnesota has lakes. Delaware has chickens. Even so, Klobuchar delighted in finding comparisons.
"We have some things in common. Let's begin with sports. You have the Blue Hens, and we have the Golden Gophers, so this may be the only state in the country where you're not going to make fun of my college team," Klobuchar teased.
"You have the Apple Scrapple and the Punkin' Chunkin' -- I know it is suspended," said Klobuchar, hastily interrupting herself. "We in Minnesota have the world's only Spam museum, or as we like to call it, the Guggenham."
Klobuchar could not resist noting that Delaware has Joe Biden, and Minnesota has Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.
"We're the two places in the country where moms bounce their babies on their knees and say, one day you can grow up to be vice president," she quipped.
Klobuchar also found some serious similarities -- like the understanding of the need for the upkeep of highways and bridges and such, because of the way the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi, six blocks from her house, collapsed and killed 13 people and the way the I-495 bridge here went tilt.
She linked Minnesota with Delaware as two states that enacted new gun laws after the shooting at Sandy Hook and told of being in Arizona over the weekend with Gabby Giffords, the Democratic ex-congresswoman who was shot and left with limited speech.
Klobuchar described what happened as she talked to Giffords about what Minnesota had done and how she responded. "She goes, 'yes, yes,' and then she said one word. She said, 'Delaware.'"
Naturally Kobuchar concluded by reminding the Democrats to get their vote out, tough year or not.
What nobody said was even in a tough year, the Democrats here would rather be themselves than the Republicans. The Democrats can do the math.