Posted: Sept. 15, 2016
AFTER MATH: RACES-TO-WATCH 2016
By Celia Cohen
Simple math explains a lot of what happened on Primary Day in Delaware. Also some history.
Look at the Democratic congressional primary. The three leading candidates -- Lisa Blunt Rochester, Bryan Townsend and Sean Barney -- collectively accounted for almost 90 percent of the vote, and the demographical math took over from there.
Rochester got about half of it, and the two men split the other half.
Nor did it hurt Rochester that she was romancing history with the prospect of being not only the first woman in Delaware to break into the congressional ranks, but also the first African-American to make it into the highest reaches of statewide office.
So there it was: Rochester = 44 percent. Townsend = 25 percent. Barney = 20 percent.
The math also caught up with Karen Weldin Stewart, the insurance commissioner who was taken out by Trini Navarro in a Democratic primary.
Despite two terms in office, Stewart never managed to stabilize herself. This was her fourth primary. She lost one-on-one in 2004 to Matt Denn, now the attorney general, then she prevailed in multi-candidate fields in 2008 and 2012, and now she is out after another one-on-one race.
Math again. Unless there are other candidates dividing the vote, it multiplies Stewart's problems.
Stewart also figures in another lesson from Primary Day. It is about deportment.
The Democratic voters showed they have no qualms about chucking out someone they suspect does not have their best interests at heart and trying someone new.
The voters did in Dennis Williams in Wilmington and Tom Gordon in New Castle County, as well as Stewart, and they probably did it in good faith, because the city and the county and the statewide vote has been running so Democratic, the odds are Mike Purzycki and Matt Meyer and Trini Navarro will be elected in their place.
With Primary Day now past, the fiercest fighting is likely to focus on the state Senate, where the Republicans are gunning to make themselves the majority for the first time since 1972. The odds are long, and the politics are against them, but the Republicans are serious, nevertheless.
The Republicans could get two shots at picking up the two seats they need to overtake the Democrats, who currently control the chamber by 12-9.
The first is Election Day. If the Republicans fall short but manage to flip just one district, they can try again in what is looking like an inevitable special election to replace Bethany Hall-Long, a Democratic state senator running midway through her term for lieutenant governor.
The results from Primary Day created a modest historical curiosity for Election Day.
Not since 1992 has there been a statewide ballot without a sitting officeholder running for re-election. Then as now, there were open races for governor, congressperson, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner.
What happened then was Tom Carper and Mike Castle swapped jobs, the Democratic congressman becoming the governor and the Republican governor becoming the congressman, while Ruth Ann Minner moved up from Democratic state senator to lieutenant governor and Donna Lee Williams was elected as the Republican insurance commissioner.
As for Election Day in 2016, it does not take a mathematician to figure out which party is better off going into it, not with the Democrats outnumbering the Republicans by 130,000 voters.
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Statewide registration: 48% Democratic, 28% Republican, 24% others
There are 130,000 more Democratic than Republican voters
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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