While 2022’s Election Day wasn’t a perfect one for our chapter, it was an excellent one. All of our members running for public office won their offices and all but one of our endorsed non-members did. Both of our endorsed candidates running at the State Senate level won, and all but one of our candidates at the State House level did. We congratulate all of our candidates, both in victory and defeat, for advancing progressive, class-conscious ideals in all three counties of the state–in urban, suburban, and rural parts of Delaware. We especially congratulate endorsed non-member Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown on becoming the House Majority Whip–the first person of color to ever occupy a House leadership role in the history of our state! We are building a mass movement that demands a Delaware that puts people over profits, and puts the interests of Delaware’s working class over its major corporations.
Susan Clifford (RD-39, Seaford): 30-70%.
Sen. Marie Pinkney (SD-13, Bear): Unopposed
Sen. Kyra Hoffner*: (SD-14, Smyrna): 52-48%
Rep. Larry Lambert: (RD-7, Claymont): 71-29%
Rep. Rae Moore (RD-8, Middletown): 58-42%
Rep. DeShanna Neal* (RD-13, Elsmere): 61-39%
Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown (RD-17, Wilmington Manor): Unopposed
Rep. Sophie Phillips (RD-18, Christiana): 71-29%
Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton*: (RD-26, Bear): 70-30%
Rep. Eric Morrison* (RD-27, Glasgow): 53-47%
Rep. Kerri Evelyn Harris (RD-32, Dover): 58-42%
(* indicates a Delaware DSA chapter member)
DSA-recommended candidates Auditor-Elect Lydia York also won 54-46% and New Castle County Councilman Brandon Toole (CD-1, Bear) won unopposed.
These DSA-endorsed electoral wins represent a DOUBLING of our chapter members in Dover and a 33% increase in our non-member endorsees in office—clearly, the appetite for democratic socialism in Delaware is growing. This election cycle also marks the beginning of electoral relevance for our Southern Delaware DSA branch. One endorsed non-member in a district entirely located in Kent County and one card-carrying DSA member from our Southern Delaware branch were elected (though in the latter case, her district is mostly in New Castle County). Kent County is not sapphire-blue the way Northern Delaware is; while it voted for President Biden in 2020, it went for President Trump in 2016. Sen. Hoffner’s district is more light blue than purple, unlike most of the sapphire-blue districts where DSA in Delaware and around the country won. Biden carried Hoffner’s district by 12 points, and Secy. Hillary Clinton carried it by just 4, while not even registering an outright majority of ballots cast there. This should put to rest the tiresome narrative that we are a fringe group only capable of winning in overwhelmingly Democratic communities. While in Delaware, at least, we might not be a competitive force in red or purple districts, or in our state’s one red county of Sussex (yet!), we have proven that with quality candidates, quality messaging, and a quality work ethic, we can go into light-blue communities, compete there, and win, even in the face of shameless red-baiting such as the flyer from Sen. Hoffner’s opponent that burned most of its gas attacking our chapter.
Still, the relentless attack ads, aimed not only at the candidates we support, but at candidates such as Dr. Frank Burns and Rep. Paul Baumbach who merely donate to our endorsees, should not be ignored, even though they were largely ineffective in a state that both leans left and prides itself on a congenial political climate. It is important that we continue to grow our chapter in membership and in organizing capacity so that candidates continue to view our endorsement as an asset and not as a liability. Mailers and texts attacking us seem to be more effective than robocalls, as several of our candidates who were targeted with these—Sen. Hoffner and Reps. Moore, Neal, and Morrison—while all victorious, underperformed Biden’s 2020 performances in their districts at a statistically significant level. Meanwhile, Rep. Lambert, who was merely attacked by robocalls tying him to us, actually slightly overperformed the President’s 2020 results in his district. Granted, other factors are at play here too—racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia directed at our candidates, betrayal by some state-level Democrats overtly or covertly supporting our GOP opponents, and of course, Biden’s natural boost up and down the state of being Delaware’s “favorite son”. In the case of Rep. Morrison, who had the biggest underperformance of any candidate we backed, the Delaware GOP ran an experienced political candidate, giving him a (paper thin) moderate veneer, and poured massive amounts of money and manpower into the race. Given all of these vulnerabilities, they’ve probably hit their high-but-not-high-enough ceiling against him, at least for the coming decade in which his district will remain the same.
There is some internal work to be done to shore up our positions—both we and other Delaware progressive organizations have run into frustration when trying to get a mostly Northern New Castle County membership base down to canvas and volunteer even in Southern New Castle County, let alone downstate. While we made up for this by redirecting more fundraising money to our candidates in these communities, nothing compares to on-the-ground support and we can realistically probably never out-fundraise the corporate elite of Delaware. Now that we have multiple electoral successes in the region, southern NCCo in particular is a critical area for us in which to build our base and destigmatize the word “socialism” from meaning “the Soviet Union” to meaning “a society in which the interests of working people are favored over the interests of the elites.” The part of New Castle County below the canal is more underrepresented in our membership than redder Kent County is. While we should not compromise our platform—doing so in the face of electoral SUCCESS looks comically weak, there are possibly some points that could be clarified, especially on criminal justice. It is one of the few issues on which Delaware is right-of-center on, and it is by far and away the issue on which the attack ads against us hammered the hardest—the Republicans can’t hit us on our healthcare policies or environmental policies very much, simply because they are overwhelmingly popular among Delawareans. It is critical that we make it abundantly clear that while our goal is to fight against the carceral state and not just to get nicer cops and prison guards, we do not plan to eliminate police departments and empty all of the prisons the moment we gain power. We actually have a plan for public safety that transfers functions from the police and resolves socio-economic conditions conducive to crime.
Overall, this was a highly successful electoral campaign for the Delaware DSA chapter in 2022! We owe our profound thanks to all of our members, all of our supported candidates, everyone who volunteered and worked for the candidates, and other progressive organizations and labor unions that threw down in money and time for many and in some cases all of our candidates. Thank you all so much!