Before the primary election, there’s the race for money

September 4, 2012

Money alone doesn’t decide elections, but it sure helps.

For a class he was teaching, Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell once listed the three most important things for a political party: money, money and - you guessed it - money.

Here’s a quick financial rundown of the two big local primaries, Senate District 6 and House District 20. Both are new to Sussex County, having been moved downstate from New Castle County following redistricting. The Senate seat takes in Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes and Milton. The House seat includes Lewes, Harbeson and Milton.

The rundown shows how aggressively the races are being contested and provides ideas about potential winners.

The hottest race, as defined by the amount of cash sloshing around, is the Republican primary between Glen Urquhart and Ernie Lopez.

According to campaign finance statements filed with the state Department of Elections, Urquhart had raised $155,810 by Aug. 12.

That amount includes loans of $119,375 by the candidate to his own campaign, the latest installment being $75,000 Aug. 10. Urquhart’s expenditures totaled $68,427.

Lopez had raised, according to his amended statement, $50,548.50. He had spent $28,739.53.

On the Democratic side, there’s a three-way race among Andy Staton, Robert Frederick and Mike Miller.

Staton began the year with $19,222.25 in the bank and as of Aug. 12 had raised another $85,302.39. His expenditures totaled $39,147.

Frederick raised $6,743.95, which included $1,978.74 in loans from the candidate to his campaign. Expenditures: $2,119.71.

(For some reason, Miller’s campaign finance report was not available online. Attempts to reach Miller by email and phone were unsuccessful. )

The numbers, in general, aren’t quite as high in the District 20 Democratic primary. The candidates are Marie Mayor, Lynn Rogers and Tom Jones.

Mayor had raised $24,583.76 and spent $8,944.12. Starting out 2012 with $31,000.75 in the bank, Rogers didn’t need to ask for money, but he did add one contribution for $125. Expenditures: $3,454.58. Tom Jones Sr. contributed $600 to his own campaign. As of Aug. 12, he had not spent any.

The other two District 20 candidates, Republican Stephen Smyk of Milton and Libertarian Valerie Valeska of Milton, have no primary opponents.

The primary will be held Tuesday, Sept. 11. Eight-day campaign financial statements, which would include money raised and expenditures after Aug. 12, are due Sept. 5. To view complete statements go to Sussex County Department of Elections website.

Carper’s quiet campaigning helps fend off Pires’ challenge

Alex Pires, independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, launched his campaign with a bombshell: He called for the release of Sen. Tom Carper’s health records, suggesting the two-term senator and longtime politician might be slipping.

Carper himself, now 65, had won office from a popular but aging Sen. Bill Roth, adding credence to the charge.

Pires mentioned “mounting evidence,” but based on Carper’s appearance before the Baywood Greens Democrats on Wednesday, that dog won’t hunt this time around, as former President Clinton might say. About 25 people gathered at the Baywood Greens Clubhouse to hear Carper and Senate District 19 candidate Jane Hovington speak.

Carper spoke 45 minutes without notes, beginning with a brief recounting of his early life and career - going to Baptist church services with his mother two, three times a week and serving as a naval aviator in Vietnam - before discussing healthcare and other issues.

Throughout, he showed an impressive command of the facts. He’s not a dynamic speaker, but then he never was. Of particular interest locally was Carper’s talk about the expansion of a Georgetown airpark runway, from 5,000 feet to 6,000 feet.

This may not sound like a big deal, but it would allow PATS Aircraft Systems, which according to its website maintains “business, VIP and head-of-state aircraft,” to expand its operation. Specifically, it would let PATS service giant 757 jets, which need the longer runway to land.

The runway project, which includes moving a road, will take place in two phases and requires the coordination of county, state and federal governments - and private business - to complete. Delaware Tech will help train workers.

“Today we have 400 jobs,” Carper said. “My hope is, in three or four years, we’ll have two or three times that many.” That’s a partnership that will help bring good jobs to Sussex County.

“We Built It” – common ground?

Which brings up Sher Valenzuela’s talk before the Republican Convention. The convention’s theme, of course, was “We Built It,” based on an out-of-context remark by President Obama.

Valenzuela told her own story about how she built her business - she has a terrific life story for a politician - but afterward she was criticized for not mentioning the help she had received from government.

In response she released a statement: “Government alone can’t build our economy. It should help create overall economic conditions that foster business growth and offer the encouragement and support business needs to thrive in today’s global economy.”

I agree, but from that it’s hard to see how “We Built It” Republicans differ from Democrats.

  • 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.

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