Two Republicans vie for party nod in run for governor

DOVER — Delaware has not had a Republican governor in 24 years, a stretch topped only by Washington and Oregon among the 50 states.

For many First State Republicans, that’s far too long.

Colin Bonini and Lacey Lafferty believe the state is at a tipping point and, with an eye on reducing regulations, cracking down on crime and decentralizing the state’s education system, are trying to win back the governor’s mansion.

The two argue the state’s economy has not properly prospered over the past quarter century, especially in the wake of the Great Recession from 2008 to 2010.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Delaware was seventh in 2014 among states in gross domestic product per capita, which measures the strength of a local economy weighted for population. Its per capita income of $47,662 was 21st in the nation and right in line with the national average.

Republicans say the economy could be stronger if the state implemented proposals like right-to-work and did not consider raising the minimum wage. But while Sen. Bonini and Ms. Lafferty are confident in their ideas, winning the governor’s seat will be challenging.

Outgoing Gov. Jack Markell, who is term-limited, has been ranked as one of the nation’s most popular governors. U.S. Rep. John Carney, the Democratic nominee for governor, is also popular and well-known.

An October 2014 survey by the Center for Political Communication found 48 percent of Delawareans view Rep. Carney in a positive light, versus 18 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him.

He also has a war chest, with $449,000 in contributions on hand as of the end of 2015.

Ms. Lafferty believes the nationwide frustration many people feel over what they see as ineffectiveness and cronyism in the government will carry her to victory, while Sen. Bonini is more pessimistic — or, someone would say, realistic. He admits winning the governorship will be difficult but says the race is too important to concede.

Sen. Bonini is favored in Sept. 13’s primary, but Ms. Lafferty has been campaigning hard and says she has the backing of many people seeking a political outsider to change the system.

Sen. Bonini has already proposed legalizing marijuana and offering state employees incentives to retire, policies Ms. Lafferty has criticized.

The general election is Nov. 8. Libertarian Sean Goward is also on the ballot.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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