Posted: April 15, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

At last, the Republicans had something positive happen for their statewide ticket.

Not that it was anything dramatic. The party is still defenseless against the Democrats' re-election blitz at the top of the ticket with Chris Coons for senator, John Carney for congressman and Beau Biden for attorney general.

All the Republicans did was dodge a primary in what could be a winnable race.

This was smart politics. With Delaware skewing so Democratic that the Republicans' best strategy appears to be crossing their fingers and hoping the Democrats botch things up, the Republicans nearly blew even that.

Here was Chip Flowers, making a hash of his first term as the Democratic treasurer, and it looked like the Republicans might spend the better part of the 2014 campaign season engaged in internal combat over who their nominee should be.

That ended late last week, when Colin Bonini, the Republican state senator who ran for treasurer the last time, gave way to Ken Simpler, a chief financial officer and investment manager, and decided to run for re-election, instead.

"I'm out of the treasurer's race, and I'll be supporting Ken," Bonini said.

Not that the Republicans should be happily counting the votes before they are cast.

The Democrats do have a primary for treasurer, and it is safe to say the Republicans like their chances a lot more against Flowers than against Sean Barney, his Democratic challenger. Barney is the former aide who worked for Jack Markell in the governor's office and Tom Carper in his Senate office and took a bullet in the neck as a Marine in Iraq.

The Republicans will take what they can get, even if the cupboard is still bare at the top of the ticket.

"Part of what the party is doing is making the races winnable. A lot of our effort has been spent on building the back bench," said John Fluharty, the Republicans' executive director. "We've got a long-term view to rebuild the party."

What is particularly daunting for the Republicans is the huge voter registration gap between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Location Democrats Republicans Others
New Castle County 52% 24% 24%
Kent County 44% 30% 26%
Sussex County 39% 38% 23%
State 48% 28% 24%

Month by month, it has been rising remorselessly in the Democrats' favor. As of April 1, the registration figures compiled by the state election commissioner's office were showing almost 124,000 more Democrats than Republicans on the voter rolls.

Nearly half of the state's 636,135 voters are Democrats -- 48 percent Democrat, 28 Republican and 24 percent others.

In New Castle County, where more than 60 percent of the voters live, the numbers are even more extreme. It is not just that a majority of the voters there are Democrats. It is that the "others" -- the voters who are unaffiliated with the major parties -- quietly slipped ahead of the Republicans in registration in March and kept growing.

As of April 1, New Castle County had 331 more of the other voters than Republican voters -- 93,221 others to 92,890 Republicans. This is the most frightening number yet.

Unaffiliated beats the Republicans. Like the Republicans are not even better than nothing?