Saturday, September 27, 2008

All of the fighting in Democratic Primaries might be over 11% of 10-20something% of 45.6% of Delaware voters

Huey P. Long (“the Kingfish”) , U. S. Senator & Governor from Louisiana in late 1920s-early 1930s was a relentless campaigner and a no holds barred competitor. I will summarize a quote from him which I have not been able to locate ,but which has stuck with me over the years. Long assumed the local political leader in an area had the backing of about 40% of the electorate and the opposition of about 40% of the electorate, so if he was unable to secure the endorsement of the local leader (in Louisiana at the time it was usually the local sheriff in the parish- what we call counties,in Delaware) he would verbally attack the local sheriff. He figured that would get him the 40% in opposition and then he just needed to get 11% of the remaining 20% to win.

Delaware in the 2000’s is a kinder & gentler political scene than Louisiana during Long’s years, so the personal attacks are much fewer. However, Long’s numbers still seem to make some sense.

There was a fair amount of media coverage over the Democratic Party endorsements in the recent Democratic Primary and the question is how much do they impact the outcome. For a challenger should the possibility of an endorsement affect their decision to file as a candidate?

In the past five 2 year election cycles there have been six statewide Democratic primaries: 3 for U. S Representative (2002, 2006 & 2008), 2 for Insurance Commissioner (2004 & 2008) and one for Governor(2008).There were no statewide primaries in 2000.
This is a small sample size to make any kind of estimates about future races,but it is the only sample size we have right now.

In 2008 in the U.S. Representative’s contest there was no endorsement. In the other five statewide races between 2002 and 2008 there was an endorsement and the endorsed candidate won three of those contests, with the challenger winning in both endorsed races in 2008.

In each of these contests the nonendorsed candidate got at least within 1% of the 40% Huey Long would have said opposed the organization before the campaign starts, so maybe Huey was right and the fight is over whether the challenger can get a fair share of the 20 % that is up for grabs.

So the fight just might be over the 11% undecided of the 10-20 something % (Democrats who vote in primaries) of 46.5% of the voters(the percentage of voters registered Democrat).


Jack Markell defeats John Carney, who had the Party endorsement, in the Governor’s race

GOVERNOR 338 of 338 Districts Reported
JOHN CARNEY 36112---48 . 8 %
JACK MARKELL 37849---51 . 2 %


Karen Weldin Stewart defeats Gene Reed , who had the Party endorsement and outspent her , in Insurance Commissioner’s race.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER 338 of 338 Districts Reported
GENE REED 25980-- 39 . 3 %
TOM SAVAGE 12002-- 18 . 2 %
KAREN WELDIN STEWART 28080-- 42 . 5 %

There was no endorsement in the primary for US Representative, but the winner, Karen Hartley-Nagle, ran in 2006 without the party endorsement and angered some Democratic Party officials by running as a Fusion Candidate by appearing on the November ballot as the Independent Party candidate while attempting to get on the November ballot as a Democrat as well in the 2006 primary. In 2008 she received a majority of the vote in which she spent less than her two primary opponents, Mike Miller and Jerry Northington.

REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS 339 of 339 Districts Reported
KAREN HARTLEY-NAGLE 35995-- 55 . 4 %
MICHEAL MILLER 22393-- 34 . 5 %
JERRY W. NORTHINGTON 6609-- 10 . 1 %

Karen Hartley Nagle gets almost 40 % of the vote against Dennis Spivack ,who had the Party endorsement and out spent her over 25 to 1, in the US Representative race.

REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS 330 of 330 Districts Reported
KAREN M. HARTLEY-NAGLE 6253--- 39 . 7 %
DENNIS SPIVACK 9515--- 60 . 3 %


Matt Denn gets the Party endorsement and beats Karen Stewart ,but she gets 42% despite not getting the endorsement and being out spent.

MATTHEW P. DENN 18436 58 . 0 %


Mike Miller had the Party endorsement.
Steve Biener, who advocated public financing initially balked at paying the filing fee and took his lawsuit against the State Democratic Party and the Delaware Elections Commissioner to the 3rd US District Court where he claimed filing fees were unconstitutional. Beiner lost that case and filed as a candidate, coming within 4.2% of the endorsed candidate despite attempting to do much of his campaigning through e-mail networks rather than traditional media.

STEVEN L BIENER 8244 47 . 9 %
MICHEAL C MILLER 8979 52 . 1 %

Below is a link to Biener’s website

Below is a link to Biener’s filing fee lawsuit case:
For a great biography of Huey P Long check out:
"Huey P Long" by T. Harry Williams

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