Sunday, August 02, 2020

Race of the Day- Delaware U.S. Senate

Delaware U.S. Senate

93 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

The race in Delaware for U.S. Senate will be a lower profile event across the nation and in the state, even as the man who used to occupy this seat will be his party's Presidential nominee.

Incumbent Chris Coons had his share of luck to be elected to this seat, in a state where a Republican has not won a Senate contest since 1994. That was expected by many to change in 2010. The seat was open in a special election. Joe Biden had easily won another term in 2008, but was also elected Vice President on that day. A former Biden staffer was named to hold the seat until the 2010 special election. The state's at large Republican Congressman Michael Castle was favored to pick up the seat, especially since then state Attorney General Beau Biden was not running. Castle had long been a fixture in the state's politics and held just about every political post except U.S. Senator. Democrats nominated Coons, a county executive, who was thought of as a credible candidate, but an underdog to the better known Castle.

The 2010 primary produced a surprise though, and a foretelling of future internal issues within the GOP. Castle, a moderate, was defeated in the primary by conservative activist Christine O'Donnell, who had lost by a wide margin to Biden two years earlier. Suddenly, this race became all but a slam dunk for Coons and the Democrats as O'Donnell was forced to run an infamous ad in which she reassured voters she was not a witch.

Coons was elected to a full term by a solid margin in 2014 and is now heavily favored to win again in a very Democrat leaning state. This time though, he is the one facing a more ideological female primary opponent. Business consultant Jessica Scarane is criticizing the incumbent for being too willing to work with Republicans and to cut deals. In many ways, those attacks echo what O'Donnell had said a decade ago about Castle. The primary is coming up next month though and there are no signs that Coons is vulnerable here. I happen to think that Coons ability to work across the aisle and behind the scenes might actually put him in place to have an influential role if he wishes in the Administration of Joe Biden, assuming the fellow Delawarean is elected. I would not be surprised to see Coons become Chief of Staff to Biden. If that happens, and assuming Delaware's Democrat Governor is reelected, another member of the party would be named to take the seat, and there would be another special election in two years. There is not much reason to believe Republicans would be much of a threat right now in the state.

There are two Republicans vying in September to take on Coons. Both portray themselves as supporters of Donald Trump in a state he is going to lose badly, but one is particularly associated with his brand of populist politics. Lauren Witzke is a young activist who heavily plays up her love of Trump and has been active in such causes as immigration restrictions. Her biography also she is a former opioid addict who became involved in gang related drug trade. She seems to cite the election of Trump as being a force in helping her turn her life around. The young blonde may have been a gangbanger of sorts but there is no accusation that she was a dark-haired witch.

Having a bit of a more traditional background is the Republican who overwhelmingly received the recent party convention endorsement. Jim DeMartino is an attorney and Marine veteran who in the last two cycles lost races for State Representative. He will probably win the primary, but one never knows.

Whomever emerges will have a tough time against Coons who might total his largest margin yet, even as conservatives and left-wing activists alike express displeasure with him.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

3 D (1 Safe, 2 Lean) 
3 R (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

38 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Lean)
33 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)


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