The Lieutenant Governor race in Delaware is getting more attention than usual this election year because the Republican for the job was invited to speak at the Republican Convention in Tampa.
Sher Valenzuela made a big splash this summer at the Republican National Convention, now she’s trying to unseat Lt. Governor Matt Denn. She jumped into the race after not finding anybody she could support. “I said, ‘Who is going to step up?’ And I began thinking about looking around, talking to people, who can we get behind, and recognized, one day, I said, ‘Wait a minute, what about me?’”
Her convention appearance, which has boosted her name recognition in the state and beyond, came about as quite the surprise.
“I really did think it was a joke, because I’m just a small business owner from Milford, Delaware and don’t really have a polished political background.”
Her small business, First State Manufacturing has seen big growth since being started on a single sewing machine in the Valenzuela’s garage. The company now employs 70 people and has contracts wit the U.S. and Israeli military among others. It’s a small business success story Valenzuela wants to help other entrepreneurs in Delaware achieve.
“It’s absolutely abnormal to roll the dice on risking everything when you don’t have to and then plop yourself in front of the possibility of rejection every day on purpose. And yet that strange formula creates the fuel for the engine that turns the economy because 70% of the jobs come from small businesses. “
Four Years Later
As for Denn, he’s running to continue what he started four years ago. “So just from a selfish perspective I really like being able to do some good for the state where I was born, and I’d love to have another four years to do it.“
Denn says his biggest accomplishment and biggest item left undone over the past four years are really one in the same.
“I think the biggest accomplishment is also part of the biggest set of work that’s undone, which is that we have put into motion a whole set of reforms in terms of how we educate kids and get them ready to enter the workforce.”
As for his opponent’s convention appearance, Denn says, “I saw part of a tape of it, I thought she did a good job.”
Delaware law calls for Governor and Lieutenant Governor to be elected separately, which means the office could be held by members of different parties. It was 1984 the last time that happened. Democrat S.B. Woo served as Lt. Governor under Republican Governor Mike Castle. Woo says, “I really felt that while governor castle was very kind to me, gave me things to do in areas where he thought I had expertise, such as trade with China such as high tech.”
But Woo says the split in parties limited his ability to participate in the state government. He recommends both Governor and Lieutenant Governor be of the same party. “If two candidates are of about the same ability, I would definitely vote for a candidate who is in the same party as the gubernatorial candidate that I would vote for.”
Valenzuela says she’s ready to work in a split administration. She’s even made a campaign appearance with Independent Party of Delaware candidate for U.S. Senate Alex Pires. “We’ve got 24 years of one party rule, and 24 years of one party rule, whatever the party is, does not lead to the outcome that is best for the citizens.”
For Denn, the possibility of working in a split administration is not even on the radar. “I have contemplated many things in my life, but me winning and Jack losing is not something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.”
It’s all up to the voters on November sixth.
Valenzuela says she’s in it to win. “I definitely look at nothing other than winning, and winning to me means winning for Delaware, it means winning for jobs.”
Denn says voters should judge him on his work the past four years. “People should vote for who they want to vote for. The way I view it, I’ve done a good job, I’ve tried to do what I told people I was going to do and if they want me to keep doing that, then they’ll re-elect me, and if not then they’ll elect somebody else.”