Delaware Grapevine by Celia Cohen: A Tale of Delaware Politics

Delaware’s Endangered Species


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Delaware used to be a swing state. This should not be confused with a swinging state, like Nevada, which has Las Vegas.

Still, the swing state and the swinging state could be said to have something in common. What happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas, and politically speaking, what happened in Delaware used to stay in Delaware.

This meant that Delaware had its own special way of practicing politics.

It swung easily between the parties in an intimacy only a small state could love—politics by consensus. For every Bill Roth, there was a Joe Biden. For every Tom Carper, there was a Mike Castle.

Nowadays it’s different. Like for every Joe Biden, there is a Beau Biden.

Where have you gone, Delaware Republican Party? Pete du Pont turns his lonely eyes to you.

There is no denying what has happened around here. It is a tale of Delaware politics and the deathly collapse of the two-party system, like something out of the darker parts of Harry Potter, only scarier, because it is no fantasy.

The new order came with the new century, not that the early signs of it were really clear.

After 12 presidential elections of impeccable swing-state credentials, voting to send the winner to the White House every time, the voters in 2000 went for Al Gore over George Bush. For the moment it did not seem quite fair to revoke Delaware’s bellwether status, not with the country itself at cross purposes, giving the popular vote to Gore and the electoral vote to Bush.

Hanging chads can be like a hung jury. It is a little inconclusive.

In retrospect, though, Delaware actually did mean to vote for Gore. The state had quietly gone Democratic and would keep going Democratic.

Republicans are red,

Democrats are blue,

John Kerry and Obama

Would win Delaware, too.

 

The Republicans had hollowed out. Not that it was all their fault.

For one thing, the Democrats became respectable. The good times under Bill Clinton as president and Tom Carper as governor let people stop shuddering about the Democrats as that ’70s party of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, along with poor old Sherman Tribbitt, the governor who was undone by red ink, a teachers’ strike and a bank collapse that nearly took the state with it.

For another thing, the DuPont Co. was shrinking and slashing two-thirds of its state workforce during the 1990s. Jim Soles, the late political scientist from the University of Delaware, was the one who pointed out that the fallout for the state was not just economic, but political.

The company was a fountainhead of pro-business, low-tax and energetic civic-oriented people. If there had not already been a Republican Party, the DuPonters would have invented one, because inventing was what they did, and then they lived it, because better living through chemistry was also what they did.

DuPonters were candidates, DuPonters were campaign contributors, and DuPonters were political volunteers. Most of all, DuPonters were voters. When DuPont retreated, so did the Delaware Republicans.

It is ironic that the last DuPonter in state office is Dave Sokola, a Democratic state senator. The era of the Oval Elephant was over.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party nationally was moving rightward, ever rightward, from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to George Bush to the Tea Party, and the state Republicans were pulled along, too, until they installed new officers who include John Sigler, a past president of the National Rifle Association, and Ellen Barrosse, the founder of A Rose and A Prayer, which is pro-life.

Yes, wise-guy Republicans are calling their party “Guns N’ Roses.”

This shift did not sit well with upstate suburban voters whose superior numbers drive the elections. They tend to be pragmatic, live-and-let-live folks. They do not like government messing with their morals or their money. They do not like intrusion from the right or the left.

Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. Rushing into the center void was a new lineage of pro-business and energetic civic-oriented Democrats, not as stringent on the taxes as the Republicans, but two out of three was not bad.

Say hello to Jack Markell, the MBA governor who once was an executive at Nextel, where he coined the very name for the telecommunications company that later merged into Sprint. Also to Chris Coons, the senator who previously was a lawyer working in the family business, namely W. L. Gore & Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex.

Coons did get called a “bearded Marxist” because of an essay he wrote in college, but really. He is about as much a bearded Marxist as Ebenezer Scrooge.

The voters had not changed. The political parties did.

This explains what happened to Mike Castle. When he needed moderate voters in the Republican senatorial primary in 2010 against Christine O’Donnell, they were not there. They had ceded the party to the conservatives and gone elsewhere.

Castle Republicans had become Markell Democrats.

Delaware has spent the last decade or so shedding Republican officeholders, no matter if they were as prominent as Roth and Castle or as prosaic as legislators, leaving the Democrats with the governor, the entire congressional delegation, every statewide official except the auditor, and the General Assembly.

Under the current conditions, the Republicans’ only consolation is Sussex County. Not that it should come as a surprise. Sussex is such a world unto itself that it has inspired the droll observation that Delaware actually has three political parties—the Democrats, the Republicans and Sussex County.

Sussex votes conservative. Sussex has always voted conservative. Like the voters in the Old South, it used to go Democratic but it goes Republican now. Only its attitude is the same.

What is this with Delaware nowadays? Even the Democratic protectorate of Massachusetts could replace Ted Kennedy with a Republican.

The two-party system is as American as Uncle Sam. Its decline here is troubling to nobody less than John Daniello, the Democratic state chair, who said, “I’m concerned about it. The job of both parties is to compromise with their single-issue groups and get to the middle.”

Come back, Republicans. Even the Democrats need you.

 

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February 2018

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Website »

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The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

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By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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A day of tomfoolery, debauchery and great beer. Come enjoy unlimited beer tastes from the best beers each Delaware brewery has to offer and YOU decide who wins the heavyweight belt for 2018. 

Cost: $29 online, $35 door

Where:
Crooked Hammock Brewery
36707 Crooked Hammock Way
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
Telephone: 302-644-7837
Contact Name: Jon Schorah
Website »

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The Singing Sergeants is the official chorus of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the group is one of six musical ensembles that comprise...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loudis Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on February 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Pre-registration is required. As...

Cost: Call for cost.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2288
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
Website »

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Soprano Alissa Rose is a native of Billings, Montana whose multi-faceted career has taken her around the United States and abroad.  She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Show More...
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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

FREE COMMUNITY EVENT: MID-WEEK WORD REFRESHER Come join us at the Mid-Week Word Refresher every Wednesday at Faith Victory Christian Center from 11:00am - 12:00pm. Refreshments will be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
View map »


Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
Website »

More information

Clearing the mind and learning to think not thinking is Zen awareness. Taking the appropriate action in this moment is Zen. Once you know this in your body, walking, standing, sitting down,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
Website »

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An ensemble of five dynamic and brilliant players in their own right, Christiana Winds explores the exciting and unique tradition of wind chamber music from the 18th century to the present. In...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum and Library
Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

This noontime lunch series on the first Friday of every month pairs an engaging 30-minute discussion about a work of art with a delicious lunch in the Thronson Café. Café lunch voucher included...

Cost: $12 Members, $14 Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Join us for the Art Loop Opening of Terence Roberts' photography exhibit - Inner Light. This show features light-paintings, photographs made at night of gardens, landscapes, and trees. The...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: Art Loop Wilmington
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Marcia Stephenson
Website »

More information

Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

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Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

More information

Build a model ship at home and enter it into our home-build contest! Build your ship at the Copelane Maritime Center using our STEM-based design plans! Free-play area for all ages, plus many...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 E. 7th Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

More information

The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

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