Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Big Night in Delaware

When the polls closed last night, I sat in a church hall waiting for the actual numbers from the four voting machines in the 7th election district of the 4th representative district.
There is a precise ritual to closing the polls and counting the results. First the clerks close down the voting machines, and remove the data cartridge and three paper copies of the results. The paper copies are signed by ten poll workers representing the majority and minority parties. One worker carries the cartridges and one paper copy to the nearest elections office; the other two paper copies are delivered separately.
The results in this city polling place presaged the big wins in Delaware and across the country. Obama won the ED by more than 70 percent. Joe Biden and Jack Markell won by more than three to one, as did my state representative, Gerald Brady.
Once I called in the vote count, I headed down to the Doubletree Hotel, where the Delaware Democratic party was gathering. By nine o'clock, it became clear that it was going to be a big night. The Democratic tide swept through Delaware like nothing we have seen, or will likely see again.
Jack Markell was elected governor with 67.5 percent of the vote, which according to his staff is the highest percentage for an incoming governor in more than a century.
Concerns that Charlie Copeland might make it a close race for Matt Denn proved unfounded. Copeland managed only 38.7 percent—just three points higher than Christine O’Donnell won against Joe Biden.
Republican legislators like House Speaker Terry Spence and Bob Valihura were swept out in a wave that put the House in Democratic hand for the first time in 24 years. Mike Katz won a narrow victory over John Clatworthy in a district that covers Greenville and Centerville.
After winning a close primary, Markell solidified his position among Democratic legislators by campaigning together, pouring thousands into legislative campaigns, and spending more on joint mailings and phone calls touting his policy proposals. New legislators will not soon forget that he helped get them across the finish line with his money, time and platform.
The sobering part of these wins, in Delaware and in the country, is that we have a lot to clean up. The credit crisis is hurting small and large businesses everywhere. In a few short weeks, the worrisome federal deficit ballooned to its highest level since Reagan. Delaware is facing its worst budget crisis since the 1970s as the auto and banking industries contract. But Jack Markell sounded eager to get started, saying, "I cannot wait to get sworn in and start work."

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