Last Monday we were encouraged by the Sussex County GOP to show up and “VENT” about the recent elections.
I wrote about my concern that the GOP would focus only on the negative, which I felt the term vent inferred.
I would like to say that for the most part the meeting of the Sussex County GOP was friendly and positive.
I do believe that it is important to look back at all of the races, both the wins and the losses in an effort to learn from our mistakes and our triumphs.
This will be just the first, in a possible series, of post taking a hard look at individual races. I am hoping to get the opinions of those who were involved in the races, as well as those of the people watching from the outside. I hope that we can have an honest discussion of what went wrong and what went right.
We had a lot of high-profile races, from the race for the presidency, to the local race for the Delaware 19th senatorial district, which was won by a come from behind Brian Pettyjohn, we had the blood, sweat and tears of the hard-fought Ernie Lopez win over the heavily endorsed Democrat Staten.
Of course we had the uphill battles for the state-wide offices, where we came up short with Jeff Cragg for governor, Kevin Wade for U.S. Senate and Tom Kovach for U.S. Congress. Tough losses in races that were long shots at best.
So with so many possible races to look at, it was a difficult choice for my first post on this topic. I wrote so much about the Pettyjohn race as it was happening I felt that I would wait to recap that one for later. That being said I thought I would focus on a Sussex race first, for as they say, “all politics are local”.
So for my inaugural post on this topic I have chosen the most local of local races, the race for the third councilmatic district between incumbent Joan Deaver(D) and her challenger Don Ayotte (R).
Of course being the incumbent there wasn’t much for Mrs. Deaver to do other than to run on her record. The life of an incumbent is made and failed on their record, it is the challenger that must set the tone for the race and it is the challenger that must prove the unproven, that they can do the job better than the person who is currently doing the job.
For those who are not aware, Mr. Ayotte was unsuccessful in his challenge for the seat on the council. What we are looking at here, is why. I will offer my own insight, but I am really looking for the thoughts of others.
I think Mr. Ayotte got off on a bad foot in the primary against Brent Wangen when he chose to accuse Mr. Wangen of plagiarizing his campaign, Mr. Ayotte also chose to accuse Mr. Wangen of accepting donations from developers in an attempt to say that Mr. Wangen could be bought, even though Mr. Ayotte himself had received the maximum amount from a developer as well, one who had also donated to Mr. Wangen.
In the general election against Mrs. Deaver, Mr. Ayotte seemed uninspired. He chose to pick only the low hanging fruit of issues. His total focus on how he would create jobs in Sussex was only what was expected and nothing new.
For someone who had accused another candidate of plagiarizing a campaign, Mr. Ayotte seemed to borrow liberally from the stock issues. He showed no depth of knowledge, even on these tried and true bumper sticker issues and was often at a loss for answers during interviews. It would seem to anyone paying attention that Mr. Ayotte had not done much homework before deciding to run for this office. Like many candidates he seems to have not thought about what he would do, if he were actually elected.
On style points Mr. Ayotte is not a comfortable public speaker, often stumbling over his answers, when he actually had one. He has a tendency towards anger when cornered and comes across as being unwilling to compromise in any way contrary to his own preconceived ideas.
However, beyond the optics and the delivery, I feel that the problem that the Republican candidate had in this race was a shallowness on the issues. There seemed to be nothing beyond the bumper sticker rhetoric, no new ideas, nothing to convince the voters that he had what it would take to actually do what he was promising. If we are to win races then we must find candidates that first of all fit the districts they are running for, but also we must have candidates that can articulate solutions, not just point out the problems.
The Republican party has moved beyond the point where we can simply attempt to out cliché the Democrats, we must offer real solutions to real problems.