Delaware Republicans eye future of party

DELAWARE — Many Republican leaders expressed discontent Wednesday with the Democrats’ approach to national politics, including the late afternoon decision to impeach President Donald Trump.

“They have the votes, and they’ll proceed with it,” said Jane Brady, chairwoman of the Delaware Republican Party, of Wednesday’s impeachment vote, which saw the motion approved 232-197 with 10 Republicans voting for the measure.

M. Jane Brady

Ms. Brady, a former Delaware attorney general, said she doesn’t believe that the president’s comments during a Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., constitute a case for impeachment.

State Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, agreed.

“I don’t see where there was any incitement at all,” he said. “The impeachment is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and a continued attack on President Trump — an unrelentless attack that’s been going on for over four years.”

Ms. Brady said many Delawareans on both sides of the aisle are “frustrated” with Congress’ reaction.

Dave Lawson

“They think it’s fruitless, that it’s unnecessary and that it’s a waste of time when there are people out there who are waiting on (COVID-19) relief,” she said. “They’re spending time in the House on this issue when President Trump has a week left in office.”

Rob Arlett, who chaired the Delaware Trump campaign for his 2016 and 2020 election bids, called the effort ‘fake impeachment 2.0.” He attributed the impeachment to hatred Democratic leadership has for the president and his supporters.

“What they’re inciting is more fear (and) more division,” Mr. Arlett said.

While many Delaware Republicans remain firmly by the president’s side, they decried the actions of those who stormed the Capitol last Wednesday.

Rob Arlett

“They were horrible. They were an attack on our democracy. They were inexcusable,” Ms. Brady said.

The former judge said those who broke in “don’t represent the Republicans I know” and that many members of the Delaware GOP participated in the demonstration in a peaceful, law-abiding manner.

Sen. Lawson mourned the deaths of both law enforcement agents who protected the capitol and members of the group that stormed it.

“The loss of life is deplorable,” he said.

“My heart goes out to law enforcement and my heart goes out to our country, which is so ripped in half that we have to become lawless in order to get our voices heard,” he said.

“I’m a law-and-order guy,” the retired Delaware State Police trooper said. “If you break the law (and) there’s probable cause, I’ll put handcuffs on you.”

Ms. Brady drew a comparison to the Black Lives Matter protests that dominated the nation this summer. Although there were several notable instances of vandalism, looting and rioting, she said that she viewed the mainstream media as portraying those protests as overwhelmingly peaceful and she wished that treatment would be applied to the law-abiding citizens who were present near the capitol last Wednesday.

Looking past the Trump presidency, Ms. Brady said she has a good idea of where the GOP is going, both in Delaware and nationally.

Looking forward

“The most important issues are voter integrity, education and jobs,” she said of the Delaware GOP.

“I think that we’re all looking forward and trying to get the economy open (and) get schools open,” Ms. Brady said. Additionally, she said she wants elected representatives to “make sure the legislature in this session protects the integrity of our elections.”

On a national level, she said the party is ready to move past the 2020 election to focus on future races and keeping the base engaged.

“I was just at the Republican National Committee meeting last week in Florida and I believe they’re looking to move forward to find a way to keep those people who share Republican values involved and engaged,” Ms. Brady said.

She added that the party hopes to take the U.S. House and Senate back as soon as possible.

But in the state General Assembly, some Republican representatives expressed a distaste for the partisan system in general.

Sen. Lawson said he’s more focused on his constituents and policy outcomes than partisanship.

“I honestly don’t delve into the political party side of things,” he said. “My whole effort is to put into looking after constituent needs and making sure the constitution is upheld.”

Delaware Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford, had a similar take.

“For the health of Delaware, what really needs to be done is Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike really need to get past politics and focus on what’s going on in local communities and what we can do to help our neighbors,” he said.

Bryan Shupe

“It’s been talked about for quite some time, but as we get into an age where a lot of people can’t even agree on what the facts are on any given situation, now is the time to put red or blue or Democrat or Republican behind us,” Rep. Shupe said.

He said that legislators should instead “look at the systemic or on-the-street challenges we have in the state of Delaware.”

Rep. Shupe said he has a few bills he sees as bipartisan coming down the pipeline for the coming term of Delaware’s legislative session.

One will seek to provide individualized, in-home water filtration systems to households in need. Another will focus on Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act system so citizens can request government records and receive them in a timely fashion without future interuption. As part of the state of emergency, Gov. John Carney suspended public records requests for more than six months last year after the first coronavirus case appeared in Delaware, a move he cited as freeing up resources for the pandemic.

“I believe that both sides do realize that FOIA should be available for the press and residents of Delaware at any time, even during an emergency situation,” Rep. Shupe said, adding that it is
especially important during those times so that citizens and the press can “gather information for the purposes of letting the public know what is going on.”

Mr. Arlett said he feels that Delaware Republicans should lean into their partisanship more.

When asked if the national GOP represents the Delaware GOP, Mr. Arlett countered that, “a better question is, does the Delaware Republican Party reflect the national Republican Party?”

In his view, state party organizations are supposed to exist in the image of the party’s national leadership — especially if that leader is elected to the presidency.

“The real question is, have we as Republicans imaged the national platform?” Mr. Arlett asked. “I would say that we can do better… We should select the five (issues) that are most important at the national level and bring them into Delaware.”