Posted: July 16, 2010
HUFFING AND PUFFING TO BLOW THE HOUSE DEMOCRATS DOWN
By Celia Cohen
In this election season, Beau Biden is about to be turned into a human Ouija board.
The Delaware Republicans let the candidates' filing deadline pass Tuesday without putting up anyone against Biden, the Democratic attorney general.
This was not out of respect for his performance in office. It was not out of love for his father-the-vice-president. Nor was it gratitude for his year in Iraq with the National Guard, although naturally they thank him for his service, or sympathy for the minor stroke he experienced.
No, this is about hard-core politics. This is about trying to take back the majority in the state House of Representatives.
The Republicans were the majority for 24 years, until they lost it in 2008. It gave the Democrats the governor, the lieutenant governor, the Senate and the House. Sarah Palin once said only dead fish go with the flow, but perhaps she was unfamiliar with the fate of the Republicans in Legislative Hall.
The 2010 election could be the last one for a long time to give the Republicans a chance to reclaim the House. The next session of the General Assembly is responsible for redistricting -- the redrawing of the districts every 10 years to keep them equal in population -- and Democratic majorities in both chambers could map with premeditated malice and get away with it.
It is now or maybe never. The Senate with a 15-6 Democratic majority is out of reach, but not the House. The Republicans are outnumbered there by 24-17, although it is somewhat worse than it looks because four of their representatives are retiring.
Enough seats are in play for the Republicans conceivably to make a run at the majority, even if the retirements make it that much harder.
"They better worry about some of their own," said John Daniello, the Democratic state chair.
The Republicans need everything to break their way, but this is the year for it. The party of the president typically loses seats mid-term -- the lower the president's approval rating, the more seats it is -- and the voters are restless.
"Outstanding candidates plus unhappy voters equal significant Republican victories," said Priscilla Rakestraw, the Republican national committeewoman.
The last thing the Republicans want to do is give the Democratic voters a reason to go to the polls. This means Beau Biden.
The Biden name is the best rallying cry the Democrats have. The Democrats hardly worried about keeping the House when it looked like Biden would be running for the U.S. Senate against Mike Castle, the Republican congressman, because it would be a frenzy that would drive out their vote.
Joe Biden would be here to campaign for sure. Maybe Obama. Maybe a Clinton or two. Oh well.
Beau Biden in a re-election race would still be a draw for Democratic voters, if less of one.
But Biden unopposed? It could make a difference, for example, to Terry Spence, the Republican ex-speaker trying to oust Mike Barbieri, the Democratic representative who replaced him.
Their Stanton-Christiana area district is more than 50 percent Democratic in registration. Spence held off Barbieri in 2006 when the Democratic turnout was merely 44 percent, but not in 2008 when it surged to 70 percent.
The Republicans still are allowed to file a candidate for attorney general until Sept. 1. It could be a little embarrassing not to, but never mind. It will not take a Ouija board to figure out why.
The more the Republicans think they can take back the House, the safer Biden is.
HOUSE RACES TO WATCH
Incumbents in bold