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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Delaware

GOP Struggles In DE

The race to replace outgoing Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner looks increasingly like a two-way contest between Lieutenant Governor John Carney and state Treasurer Jack Markell. That's a massive problem for Republicans: Both Carney and Markell are Democrats, and the GOP can't seem to recruit a candidate of their own in a state that has a history of electing Republicans.

Carney and Markell, both well-known, will battle it out in the state's September primary, and the race promises to be expensive. Carney has raised $1 million so far, while Markell has $2.5 million in the bank. Four years after Minner won re-election with just 51% of the vote, though, the latest GOP recruitment target has backed out, saying the two Democrats' war chests are just too much to overcome.

"There isn't anyone who looks at this race who doesn't look at what the two Democrats have raised. Someone could do a credible campaign with $2 million. But I think you need that and that's very difficult, very, very difficult," State Rep. Donna Stone told The News Journal of Wilmington, confirming that she will not make a bid. Other party favorites, including businessman Alan Levin, 2004 candidate Bill Lee and House Speaker Terry Spence, have all declined to make a bid.

Two Republicans who lost to Lee in the 2004 primary are running, but state Republican Party Vice Chairman Vance Phillips said neither is likely to get the party's official endorsement.

The GOP is not a party of pariahs in the First State. Michael Castle, Delaware's lone representative in the House, is a Republican who has never faced a difficult race and is unlikely to again this year. He was first elected to Congress after stints as governor. Republicans hold a 22-19 majority in the state House, while Democrats have a 13-8 majority in the state Senate.

Even with a top gubernatorial contender, the state is expected to go easily to the Democratic presidential nominee this year. But without a candidate, it's hard to win a general election for governor. Assuming no self-funders jump into the contest and give a bloodied Democratic nominee a serious challenge, the state's top job is likely to remain safely in Democratic hands.