After disappointing night, state GOP looks to build new bench for statewide races
Republicans' top-of-the-ticket hopes quickly faded Tuesday as their candidates for statewide office underperformed party expectations.
But GOP leadership say they can look to members of the General Assembly who held on in challenging districts – and victories further down-ballot – as opportunities to recruit stronger candidates for statewide races.
Three-time US House candidate Lee Murphy lost to Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester by a nearly 15-point margin, while GOP Attorney General candidate Julianne Murray finished 7 points behind incumbent Kathy Jennings.
State GOP Chair Jane Brady says while she’s disappointed in Tuesday’s results, she sees a chance to look to down-ballot victories – including county-level races – as a chance to identify Republicans who might fare better.
“In particular, when you look at Sussex County Council, Levy Court, the state legislature – you’re looking at future statewide candidates, at least if we do it right," she said.
Brady says Republicans who won or ran unopposed in districts with strong registration advantages for Democrats – including Reps. Michael Smith, Michael Ramone and Kevin Hensley in New Castle County – may be especially strong candidates.
“Almost every person who is in the legislature has a deficit in Republican-Democrat registration in their district, but those three battle it every election – successfully," she said. "They’re war-tested, right?”
Smith ran unopposed this year, while Ramone ended the night leading by less than 0.5 percent: a margin that would trigger an automatic recount.
Republicans also lost the 6th Senate District seat previously held by outgoing Sen. Ernie Lopez and the House 20th District previously held by Rep. Steve Smyk, but picked up the 4th House District that moved from Wilmington to Sussex County.