My take: Governor’s race heats up

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The Democratic Party’s 2024 race for governor is heating up. Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long gained the endorsement of the Delaware House leadership on Tuesday. 

Support from the group, led by House Speaker Valerie Longhurst, was good news for Hall-Long, whose campaign was sputtering over finance reporting handled by her spouse in previous campaigns. The group, led by longtime Hall-Long supporter Longhurst, joins Gov. John Carney and other Dems in backing the lieutenant governor.

An audit of finances put Hall-Long’s campaign on hold for a time, with one early poll suggesting her lead over New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer had eroded. Meanwhile, the liberal-progressive blogosphere, which has little use for Longhurst, was busy with a dust-up over the House Speaker allegedly making an anti-Semitic remark directed at Meyer.

The endorsement indicates that Hall-Long has some support in a restless progressive wing of the party, sometimes at odds with the Carney Administration. 

In the meantime, Meyer continues to tour the state and county, promoting programs and funding that often came about from the Recovery Act and Covid-19-related funding so generous that his administration had to divvy out money to counties and the state.  The initial wave of funding was based on the assumption that larger counties, like New Castle, handled public health and social services. 

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Meyer earned national attention for the county’s innovative poop monitoring efforts that used sewer samples to detect Covid-19 and, more recently, the presence of illegal drugs.

The term-limited county executive is working to raise his profile south of the C&D Canal, where name recognition is lacking.

Hall-Long, a nurse-educator and former state Senator from Middletown, grew up in Sussex County.

The wild card is the announcement by former DNREC Secretary and current National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara, who is considering a run for the state’s top job.

While heading an influential Washington Beltway group, O’Mara and his family still reside in Bear. O’Mara, often viewed as a “whiz kid” in public policy circles, is a key player in the new MACH2 green hydrogen program that could bring $750 million in funding to the region.

There is speculation that O’Mara is an insurance policy if Hall-Long’s campaign crashes and burns or serves as a counterweight to Meyer, who is not especially popular among some.

Meyer has some support in business circles thanks to his ability to avoid not-in-my-backyard development issues and scandals that have left the county with a tarnished image in the past.

Both O’Mara and Meyer appeal to a segment of the party that would like to see more innovation in a state with a million residents. Hall-Long, like Carney, represents the “caretaker” wing of the party that is less likely to go out on a limb.

In the meantime, one Republican has announced his candidacy for governor. Another, who could get the party’s endorsement, may be waiting in the wings. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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