Restart the Party
After the election, Delaware Republicans found themselves a party non grata. Can the state committee turn its fortunes around?
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“Markell appealed to Delaware’s independents more so than the [Democratic] party’s favorite, John Carney,” Pika says. “Republicans need to find Markell-type Republicans to appeal to moderates and independents.”
The poster boy for such a Republican moderate is, in Pika’s view, Congressman Mike Castle, who has won reelection eight times with very comfortable margins. Delaware Republicans have taken note. Call it the Be Like Mike promotional campaign.
“The message Delaware voters are sending is, ‘We trust you, Mike, to do what’s best,’” Rakestraw says. “The key for us is not to worry about how voters are registered, but to appeal to them on issues of trust.”
Ross sees strengthening party organization by using technology and the Internet to find young, active people who are looking to make Delaware a better place to live and work. “Governors Castle and [Pete] du Pont reduced taxes and created jobs,” Ross says. “It’s the opposite of what we have now.”
Based on the party’s breadth and scope, Copeland sees the future as a positive one. “A party that embraces both [Pat] Buchanan and [Ron] Paul is a pretty big party with a diverse group of thinkers,” he says.
Ross sums up the party’s traditional appeal by the location of its state headquarters on Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington.
“We’re right out front here in a working class neighborhood, between a Pathmark and a Happy Harry’s. Anyone from anywhere can walk in here at any time.”
Foot traffic may take awhile, though, according to Smith. “Delaware Republicans are like Democrats in Oklahoma: prisoners of demographics and location.”