In 2002, Wayne Smith, the then-serving House Majority Leader, drew the new district maps for the State House of Representatives. 2002 was a Republican year, even in Delaware, and Leader Smith’s electoral engineering was deemed a smashing success. Delaware’s House Republicans had a veto proof majority for two whole years… And then the losses started. By drawing lines for short-term gain, each district added Democrat registered voters. As national trends turned against Republicans; Delaware became more blue; and incumbent Republicans retired or lost, the House of Representatives completely reversed. Looking back 10 years, it is clear that short-term, personal power interests dominated good governance, and Delaware has suffered as a result:
- Employment in Delaware, excluding government, has shrunk by 5.4% between 2000 & 2010.
- Real Income, excluding transfer payments (Social Security, Medicare, TANF, etc) has shrunk by 7.6% between 2000 & 2010.
- Delaware’s fastest growing jobs are earning 8% less than the current State average wage.
With this record of failure, now the House Democrats are trying the same thing. They want to lock themselves into perpetual majorities (maybe be like the State Senate), and are pulling a page out of Leader Smith’s book. So, what have they done?
- While Federal law bars districts from being drawn in such a way that disproportionately gives advantage to one political party, the maps proposed by the House Democrats seemingly do just that… In the State House of Representatives, Republicans hold only 15 of 41 seats, or less than 37-percent of the total. But of the six incumbents with current home locations that would place them into a proposed representative district with another incumbent, four, or about 67-percent are Republicans.
- The maps have been carefully crafted to eliminate strong 2010 Republican House candidates from districts now held by the Democrats against whom they ran.
- Judy Travis was drawn out of State Rep. Bryon Short’s 7th District.
- Former Speaker of the House Terry Spence was drawn out of Mike Barbieri’s 10th District.
- Beth Miller was drawn out of the new 32nd District, in which she ran against State Rep. Brad Bennett last year.
- And John Marino was drawn out of the 9th District, where he lost against freshman Representative Rebecca Walker.
- This last case was especially egregious, with the district line dividing the community of Lea Era Farms to draw Mr. Marino out of the 9th District.
- This plan does a disservice to the minority population in the Georgetown area.
- The 37th District is radically re-drawn in this plan as an odd, oblong district running from Georgetown southeast to Long Neck.
- In late April members of the Hispanic Redistricting Task Force urged legislators to make Georgetown a part of a single representative district to maximize the clout of the area’s Hispanic community.
- The request was in keeping with federal guidelines for drawing new district lines, which requires mapmakers to “keep communities of interest together.”
- But the new 37th District contained in this plan excludes minority residents just outside of Georgetown, dispersing their voting power.
Between 2002 and 2009 DE has gone from 17th to 9th among all states in convictions of state and local government officials per capita,
and these convictions don’t include the following:
- DELDOT sweetheart land deals.
- Legislators with state jobs or relatives in state jobs.
- Expanded use of non-transparent “strategic funds” for corporate welfare.
- $3 million unaccounted for in the “Weatherization” program through ARRA.