State House candidate caught on video taking opponent’s mailer

DOVER — A state House candidate caught on camera taking an opponent’s mailer has apologized.

Monique Johns, the Democratic nominee for the 9th Representative District seat, was filmed by a security camera at a Middletown home lifting a handbill left at the door of the house by her opponent on Sunday.

“Today, I ask for the forgiveness of the residents of the 9th Representative District. I made a mistake,” Ms. Johns said in a statement Monday. “I removed the literature of my opponent’s campaign from the door of a voter. It was wrong and I should never have done it.

“This was a lapse of judgment that I humbly regret. Please forgive me. I won’t make any excuses for this action. I have apologized to my opponent, my supporters, and now I apologize to the voters of the 9th Representative District.

“I work hard to live up to the standards I set for myself and I am disappointed that I fell short in this instance. But I intend to move forward in running a positive campaign that’s focused on talking to voters about the real issues facing MOT and Delaware.”

Monique Johns

The video, posted to Facebook, shows Rep. Kevin Hensley, a Republican representing southeastern New Castle County, leaving a mailer wedged between the door and the door frame after no one answered the doorbell. Ms. Johns later comes by and takes Rep. Hensley’s mailer, replacing it with one of her own.

Rep. Hensley said Monday he was disappointed by the video but wanted to focus on running a positive campaign. Asked if he thought the incident would matter to voters, he said he was not sure but noted it had generated buzz on Facebook.

The video was posted around 6 p.m. It had nearly 200 comments and more than 1,200 shares by 2:30 the following afternoon.

Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm said the party strongly rejects such tactics and urged Ms. Johns to apologize, which she later did.

“Campaigns are auditions for leadership positions, not win-at-all-cost prank wars,” he said in a Monday morning statement. “Tampering with the signs or campaign materials of an opponent isn’t just a bad election strategy — it’s bad for our democracy.

“Campaigns from both parties should knock it off once and for all. Voters deserve better and we demand more from our candidates and their campaigns.”

The Delaware Democratic Party explicitly instructs its candidates not to engage in such activity, according to the party.

Reports of sign or literature theft or vandalism are nothing new this time of year. Donyale Hall, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination in the 17th Senatorial District, reported in August six of her signs had been damaged.

In 2016, La Mar Gunn, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, complained of his signs being defaced. Delaware Republicans alleged a U.S. Postal worker was caught on camera stealing a Trump campaign sign just a few days before the general election.

Most notably, the husband of then Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, who is now lieutenant governor, was filmed taking Republican campaign signs in 2014. Dana Long was charged with theft under $1,500, and an agreement was reached under mediation, allowing him to avoid prosecution.

The news came to light less than a week before voters went to the polls in November, and Sen. Hall-Long squeaked by with 51 percent of the vote.


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