Sussex County GOP 2022 Annual Report

Posted on 01-02-2023

January 2, 2023~Committee Highlights of 2022

Greetings fellow Republicans,

I hope you and your families enjoyed a blessed holiday season.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwanza, the holidays are about sharing festive times with family and friends and renewal. It is also a time for reflection on the activities of the past year.

Your Sussex County Executive Committee was very busy during this election year.  Here are some of the highlights:

Party Structure:  We offered Election District Committeeperson classes to approximately 40 people over the course of the year.  These are extremely important positions who have direct and indirect responsibility for shaping the Republican Party nationally and locally.

We also met on four occasions to offer training sessions to those who said they were interested in volunteering.  Both the Election District Committeeperson and the Volunteer classes described the structure of the Delaware State Republican Committee and the Sussex County Republican Committee.  It is important for every Republican to understand the way the party is organized and the differences between the local clubs and the Republican Party Regions.

Elections:  We had at least one candidate for every Senate, Representative, County Council and Row Office on the ballot.  Every statewide and local candidate spoke to our members at our Region Meetings this year before the Primary Election and again before the General Election

We addressed Election Integrity by training more than 30 of our members to work as Checker Challengers during the primary and general elections.  While we were unable to cover every location and every hour the polls were open, we did make our presence known and the poll workers knew we were watching.  We also had Checker Challengers at the Department of Elections meetings when the Absentee Ballots were processed.  These terrific volunteers provided very good feedback and any questionable processes were reported to the DOE and corrected.

Fundraising:  We undertook a huge fundraising project named the Delaware Freedom Festival in October.  The weekend event included a dinner Friday evening at the Rusty Rudder; an outdoor festival at Hudson Fields on Saturday; and cocktail party at the Rusty Rudder Saturday evening, with nationally-known as well as local speakers.  We hosted Stephen Moore, economist and conservative writer at our dinner Friday evening.  The next day, at Hudson Fields, Stephen Moore, Doug Collins, former Georgia Congressman; and LtCol Oliver North, military historian and Vietnam Veteran spoke to festival attendees.  That evening, we hosted a cocktail party with Oliver North.  The attendance at the festival was not as robust as we anticipated possibly due to the cold and windy weather.  However, this first-time effort was successful as our income was higher than our expenses.  We had excellent volunteer participation and everyone in attendance at the festival and the rest of the events enjoyed the speakers, the exhibitors, food and the music.

Community Outreach:  In September this year, we once again participated in the Georgetown Hispanic Festival.  Our booth was very busy with large numbers stopping by to pick up candidate and Spanish versions of our literature about our party and our values.

In October, we greeted attendees at the Annual Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville.  Attendance was wonderful and we spoke with hundreds of people who stopped by to learn about our candidates and meetings.  The scrapple was good too!

The Sea Witch parade in Rehoboth was fun and the crowd was larger than last year.  It seems that COVID is no longer keeping people from gathering.  We had some of our candidates walk with us and our float was beautifully decorated.  Pachy, our blow-up elephant, was a hit as usual.

Sussex GOP Office:  We continue to work on getting our office organized and looking like a reasonable place of business.  We now have a wall unit to hold candidate signs and literature.  The office has been painted and we have a new printer.  We have more work to do to include new flooring and removal and storage of some tents, bunting, and banners, etc.  We will be acquiring some storage cabinets to put in the back room.

Election Takeaways:  Delaware has gotten bluer since the last redistricting in 2010.  Since 2012, the difference between registered Democrats and registered Republicans has grown from 110,000 to 152,000. 

We were all disappointed with the results of the election in Sussex County.  While we had some volunteers, we certainly could have used more of them.  There were other issues that we will be addressing going forward.

We were successful in our newly acquired RD 4 and our County Council Districts 4 and 5. Sadly, we lost in RD 14 and 20 as well as SD 6. 

The Democrat candidate for RD 20 is a woman who has sat on practically every board or commission in Sussex County.  Try as I might, I was unable to find any initiative or project for which she was responsible that was successful.  However, the retired school teacher checked the gender and race boxes and along with RD 20 being blue, she was successful. She bested our candidate by a mere 371 votes.

Senate District 6 was particularly disappointing.   The man who defeated our candidate lacked the experience and is much more progressive than his constituents realize.  Also, we were unable to compete with the Democrats in the money department.  A margin of 1083 votes decided the outcome.

But, despite this, there are several positive takeaways from the 2022 election. 

  • Looking at our statewides we find that Lee Murphy’s 42.9% of the overall vote is the highest share won by a Republican nominee since Mike Castle departed.  Murphy did better in each county than prior attempts with 33% in New Castle; 50% in Kent; and 56% in Sussex.  Even in Willmington, Murphy’s vote share of 12.75% was slightly higher than historical averages.
  • Our statewide candidates for Attorney General, Auditor, and Treasurer improved on the performance of the candidates for those offices in 2018 and 2014.  All three of these candidates performed similarly with each receiving 46% of the vote.  The GOP vote share was higher in two of the three counties than in the last mid-term of 2018.

There are also some steps we can take to improve our performance in upcoming years.

  • We must realize that we will not win with just Republican votes.  We must persuade swing voters and soft Democrats to vote for our candidates.  Our message has to be crafted to attract registered No Party voters.
  • We must identify non-Republicans who lean our way and begin early messaging to them with paid or volunteer resources.
  • Localize races and avoid national issues.  The consistent overperformance of local candidates vs. federal indicate that Delaware voters who are not open to Republican candidates on the federal level will support Republicans on the state and local level.
  • Register new Republicans.
    • Work the monthly Registered Voter list to identify newly registered Republicans and No Party voters. Send welcome letters to these.  EDCs must follow-up with these new Sussex Countians.
    • Maximize turnout in Sussex County.  Turnout in Sussex in 2010 was 48%.  Turnout in 2022 was 55%.
  • Absentee Ballot Push and Chase
    • Encourage Republican voters who are elderly or may not be well-enough to vote in person to request Absentee ballots.  Assist them with requesting these and then follow-up to be certain the ballot is returned to the DOE.
    • Chasing ballots requires volunteers who are willing to take the information we receive from the Department of Elections of those who requested absentee ballots and follow-up with those voters to assure that they have returned their ballots.
    • Send persuasion messages to independent voters who have requested absentee ballots via USPS or text.
  • Target low-propensity Republicans, Republican-leaning Independents and No Party voters as well as low-propensity Democrat voters.  These data are available from the RNC database.  However, in order to do this, we must have volunteers who are willing to assist with the data evaluation and then EDCs and Neighborhood Team Leaders who will reach out to these voters. 

Finally, although these races are non-partisan, we need to find School Board candidates for the May 2023 election.  There will be at least one seat on the ballot for each School District in Sussex.  We are recruiting candidates who believe in school choice, agree that children belong to their parents and not the government, and who reject the sexualization of our children by progressive teachers and administrators. 

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us.  So, if you were unhappy with the election results, please consider what you can do to assist during these next two years.  We have to lay the groundwork for success in 2024.  That has to begin NOW!  We can’t wait until a few months before the election and expect to be victorious.  Become an Election District Committeeperson or a Neighborhood Team Leader.  Help out with Voter Registration drives.  Assist with distributing literature and write letters to the editor.  If you have skills managing data let us know.  Attend trainings and invite your neighbors to attend our meetings.  Above all, keep the faith!

Marilyn Booker, Chair

Lewis Briggs, II, Vice Chair

Hylton Phillips-Page, Treasurer

Betty Bridgeman, Secretary

Sussex County Republican Committee