Posted: June 23, 2016
UPDATE: RACES-TO-WATCH 2016
By Celia Cohen
When there is a crowd of candidates running in a party primary, everything counts.
This is because the differences among the candidates are more likely to come from biography than policy. Otherwise, why would they all be in the same party?
The Democrats have five candidates running for Delaware's only congressional seat and six candidates for lieutenant governor, so it matters that the New Castle County Democrats decided to back someone in those primary races on Sept. 13.
They did what they might have been expected to do. They went with geography and familiarity in supporting a pair of state senators who represent districts in New Castle County, namely, Bryan Townsend for congressman and Bethany Hall-Long for lieutenant governor.
In the congressional primary, where there are three serious candidates -- Townsend, Sean Barney and Lisa Blunt Rochester -- Townsend is the one showing some gathering strength with his campaign finances, field operation and now the vote of confidence from the New Castle County Democrats.
The primary for lieutenant governor is still mostly a muddle. The backing of the New Castle County Democrats may not help Hall-Long all that much, but it was still good for her to get it, and not so good for Ciro Poppiti III, because he is a countywide officeholder as the register of wills.
Meanwhile, further down the ballot in the legislative races, it is candidate roulette.
The Republicans are seriously exerting themselves to try to take over the state Senate, where they have been mired in the minority for 43 years. They have no choice but to try to unseat Democratic state senators in Democratic districts, mostly by recruiting Millennials, so it was an unexpected gift for them when Karen Peterson, a Democratic state senator, decided against running again.
The voter registration is Democratic by 2-1, but still. An open race is a help.
In the state House of Representatives, the Democratic majority appears unthreatened, but not necessarily the Democrat in charge of it.
Pete Schwartzkopf, the Democratic speaker, has been drawing opponents. It looks like Don Peterson (no relation to Karen Peterson), who is running against Schwartzkopf in a primary, is sticking, but maybe not James DeMartino, the Republican candidate.
DeMartino, a lawyer who is a transplant from Washington, D.C., has not officially gotten on the ballot yet, because of a question about whether he can meet the three-year residency requirement.
Elsewhere, other legislative candidates are gone for good.
Bryon Short, a Democratic state representative who dropped out of the congressional race to run for re-election, has now shed two of the Democratic candidates who filed when they thought Short was departing. That leaves only Dave Brady, a former Democratic state representative, who does not look like he is leaving unless the voters make him.
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Statewide registration: 48% Democratic, 28% Republican, 24% others
There are 129,000 more Democratic than Republican voters
Incumbents in bold
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Current Senate: 12 Democrats, 9 Republicans (11 seats up)
Current House of Representatives: 25 Democrats, 16 Republicans (All 41 seats up)
TOP LEGISLATIVE RACES
Incumbents in bold