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12/23/2008
Kovach surprises in 6th District Special Election

By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted Dec 23, 2008 @ 05:54 PM

Bellefonte, Del. —

A surprise victory for Republican Tom Kovach in the 6th District Special Election has dashed Democratic hopes of veto-proof three-fifths majority in the State House of Representatives.

Kovach received 1,540 votes in the Dec. 20 election, edging Democrat Mike Migliore by 73 votes for the Eastern Brandywine Hundred seat vacated with the resignation of Diana McWilliams last month.

McWilliams, a Democrat who won re-election Nov. 4, took a job in New Mexico just days before the election – too late to have someone replace her on the ballot.

Democrats were intent on holding onto the seat that, combined with other wins in November, would have given them enough votes to override any veto or pass revenue bills without Republican consent.
And with a significant registration advantage – 7,615 Democrats to 4,896 Republicans with 4,108 independents – conventional wisdom was they wouldn’t have much trouble.

Democratic Party Chairman John Daniello summed it up back on Nov. 20, the night Migliore was selected as his party's candidate: “If after all the successes we’ve had we blow a race like this, we’re going to look damn silly.”

Migliore, however, didn’t feel silly and said he was proud of the race he and the party ran. Still, he conceded that the registration advantage might have led to a lack of urgency among some Democrats.
Bob McWilliams, Diana’s husband and chairman of the 6th District Democrats, went further.

“In retrospect, I think it was the timing of the election worked against us, with all the distractions out there,” he said. “In general, the Republicans do a very good job of getting their base out. It’s like the Republicans go to church every Sunday whereas the Democrats are more Christmas and Easter people.”

McWilliams also said he thought Kovach and the Republicans were effective in getting out their message – that electing Migliore would give the Democrats too much power.

Kovach agreed that was a factor in swaying many Democrats and independent voters, but said the special election format – where he could avoid association to other candidates up and down the ticket and run strictly on his own qualifications and record – was also beneficial to him.

An attorney with a focus on environmental issues, Kovach said he thought voters responded to his independent streak.

“I’m a fiscal conservative but I’m moderate on many other issues,” he said. “In the general election, it would have been a lot more difficult to differentiate and distinguish myself as a true independent candidate while running under the Republican flag.”


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