Candidate outlines Republican strategy for 2012 election

March 27, 2012

Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Craig, speaking before 14th Representative District Republicans March 22 in Lewes, named three issues his party can run on to win this fall.

The first, he said, is the economy and jobs.

Craig, who lives in north Wilmington but has a second home off Old Landing Road near Rehoboth, said there are 48,500 fewer jobs in Delaware than when Jack Markell became governor. (That number includes part-time jobs, even something as minor as a restaurant bringing in an extra server for lunch.)

By focusing on jobs, Craig said, Republicans can win the extra votes they need to take back the governorship.

In 2008 Bill Lee received 127,000 votes. In 2012, Craig said, Republicans need 200,000 to win, and many of those extra 75,000 votes will have to come from Democrats and independents. Craig described the 48,500 lacking jobs as a gold mine of potential voters. Not only the people who are out of work but their spouses, children, neighbors.

The second issue for Republicans is crime and security, which has received attention recently because of the rash of home invasions. He said criminals have found that instead of robbing banks, which have security cameras, “it’s easier to rob your neighbor.”

“It’s a major issue for us,” Craig said, and he thinks it will resonate with women.    
Men think about the issue in their head, he said, but “for women it’s an emotional thing in their hearts.

“We need to target Democratic and independent women, and the crime and security issue is how we’re going to reach out to them.”

The third issue is energy and gas prices. It may sound odd for a gubernatorial candidate to campaign on gas prices - economists have criticized national candidates for saying the president of the United States can control oil prices - but Craig said, “We’re going to ride that issue.” He admitted Markell isn’t responsible for gas prices, “but he is responsible for things we did here in Delaware to support green energy.”

Craig criticized everything from the state’s support for Fisker Automotive, a start-up green-car manufacturer that recently laid off workers, to the thousands of dollars spent “talking about windmills off Rehoboth.”

He seemed particularly incensed about a small local project. “One of the things he [Markell] did was give the city of Lewes fifteen thousand dollars to study a water taxi powered by solar panels that would go from Lewes to Rehoboth. It’s the epitome of waste,” he said, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience.

Valenzuela discusses Race to Top
The candidate who drew the warmest applause of the evening was Sher Valenzuela, perhaps the most natural politician of the four who spoke.

(The two other candidates were Kevin Wade, candidate for U.S. Senate, and Glen Urquhart, one of two Republicans running for the new Sixth Senate District seat. The other Sixth District contestant, Ernesto Lopez, wasn’t able to attend because of a miscommunication about the candidates night. He was defending his doctorate that night.) Valenzuela, a Milford businesswoman who once worked at the Delaware State News under the late Tammy Brittingham of Lewes, also showed a flair for sound bites.

“Race to the Top would be better described as a slippery slope to the bottom,” is how she characterized the Obama administration’s educational reform plan.

First State tied for last place
Craig mentioned something that might surprise Delawareans: a study ranked the First State as among the last in terms of quality of life. I looked it up and he’s right. CNBC last year rated Delaware at the very bottom - tied for last with Alabama and Louisiana - for quality of life. CNBC ranked the state by analyzing factors such as crime rates, healthcare, air and water quality, and in-state attractions.

While this is certainly bad news for Delaware, it might be hard for Republicans to make much political hay of it.

Improving quality of life, such as water quality in the Inland Bays, for example, often includes more regulations, and for Republicans “job-killing regulations” has become as much of a cliché as “devout Catholic” and “knee-jerk reaction.” I’ll be curious if that becomes an issue.

The top states for quality of life, by the way, were Hawaii, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Both Valenzuela and Kevin Wade have compelling life stories, and I’ll be including more about them – and Lopez – in future columns. I presented some of Urquhart’s background in a past column. It can be found online.

  • A number of accomplished writers will be appearing in the Politics column every Tuesday on a rotating basis to explore the dynamic world of politics at the local, county, state, national and world levels.