The recent WNJ article on the troubles that the DE GOP is having in filling its ballot lines for the 2012 General Election left out a major component of the changing face of Delaware politics: the rise of the third party movement.
Despite the Demopublican General Assembly attempting to end fusion candidacies last year, despite raising the number of registered voters necessary to maintain ballot access, and despite the clearly partisan attempts to keep third party candidates out of the UD/DFM debates, third party interest in Delaware is surging--primarily at the expense of the Republican Party.
The statistics don't lie.
At this moment, when the dust clears from the September primaries, the DE GOP will be running 54 candidates across Delaware in local and statewide races. This is DOWN significantly from the 63 candidates that the DE GOP ran in 2010, when there were also fewer races.
The Libertarians, Greens, and Indpendent Party of Delaware will be running at least 29 candidates. Fusion candidacies make the number for 2010 harder to calculate for third parties (some Democrats ran fusion candidacies with the Working Families Party; some Republicans ran also as IPOD or Libertarian; at least one candidate ran as IPOD and Libertarian), but my best count is that about 21 actual third party candidates were ballot qualified in 2010.
So the GOP is down nine candidates and third parties are up by eight. And it is actually worse than that: the GOP list is being steadily infiltrated by those with current and former third party ties, like Libertarians Will McVay and Brent Wangen.
Even more significant is the fact that many more third party candidates like Alex Pires, Scott Gesty, Andrew Groff, James Christina, Margaret Melson, Wendy Jones, John Machurek, and Ronnie Fitzgerald are running real (if low-budget) campaigns as opposed to the "paper candidacies" often attributed to third parties.
Why the shift? It is becoming more and more obvious that many Delaware citizens are unhappy with virtual one-party rule, but are equally unwilling to embrace the strife-ridden, ideologically hidebound GOP. So they are seriously looking at alternatives, and alternative candidates are coming forward to meet that interest.
Ironically, at this point only two things are really propping up the GOP:
1. The Delaware media, which is reluctant to cover the upsurge.
2. The Delaware Democratic Party, which likes the status quo with an inept opponent just fine.