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House Republican Leader Mike Ramone runs for governor

Katie Tabeling
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Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek). | PHOTO COURTESY OF DELAWARE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

PIKE CREEK — House Minority Leader Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek) announced Friday that he will run for governor, establishing that both gubernatorial Republican and Democratic primaries will be races to watch this year.

Ramone will face off against retired New York City Police and Rehoboth Beach police officer Jerry Price in the Republican primary on Sept. 10. Price has officially filed with the Department of Elections; Ramone announced to the press he would file on May 6.

The victor of the Republican primary will face off against whoever wins the Democratic primary on Sept. 10. There are three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination: New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, Lt. Govenor Bethany Hall-Long and former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.

If either Ramone or Price are elected, they would become Delaware’s first republican governor in roughly three decades. The last was Gov. Dale Wolf who served for three weeks after then-Gov. Mike Castle resigned to ascend to Delaware’s lone congressional seat in 1993.

“Truly, I’m not running to be the first Republican governor in 30 years, I’m running to be the first governor elected by the people,” Ramone told the Delaware Business Times. “With how the political dynamics are today, I thought we can do business a little differently: with compassion and without toxicity. As a leader in the house, I’ve been able to build relationships and it’s by focusing on our similarities, not our differences.”

Ramone kicked off his gubernatorial campaign by holding a press tour of all three counties, ending with Wilmington this afternoon. The Delaware GOP has also shown signs that it will back Ramone’s bid. Julianne Murrary, the state GOP chairwoman, had declared she would file for the race but, as of Monday afternoon, she decided to back down and work to rally the party behind a single candidate.

Ramone, a husband, father and grandfather, is a Newark native that held his seat for the 21st District for 16 years. A serial entrepreneur, Ramone opened his first business, Ramone’s Flower Shoppes, when he was 21 years old.

Over the years, he and his wife Lisa opened a funeral home and landscaping business, pool maintenance company Aquatic Management Systems, property management firm BC Communities and swim center D-Fit. His businesses employ 200 people throughout the year.

Ramone was driven to run for office as far back as 1998 when he ran for the 22nd House District seat, later running twice for the state senate. When then-Rep. Pam Maier decided to step down, she threw her support behind him in a highly-watched race.

In 2008, the 21st district was a battleground state with a slim voter margin between the two parties. At the time, The News Journal reported that the district had a 788 registered voter advantage over Republicans.

Still, Ramone won that race by 1,000 votes. Over the years, he’s faced stiff competition at the polls. In the 2022 election, Ramone narrowly defeated scientist and business owner Frank Burns by 35 votes.

Ramone told DBT that he won those races by appealing to the third party – the independents. By his research, there were around 250 more independent voters than registered Republicans in the district.

“I try to be helpful and, the truth is, over the years through my businesses, I’ve met and connected with a lot of people,” Ramone said. “It’s not that I didn’t knock on someone’s door if they were a Democrat. You just do your job and try to help people.”

Regardless of the gubernatorial race, Ramone said that he and his wife were also preparing to move to Dewey Beach, so he would eventually have to step down from his office sooner or later.

Ramone told DBT that his priorities would be to improve Delaware’s education through offering more autonomy in the districts among other measures; addressing the opioid crisis; and focusing on business.

“The largest employer of the state shouldn’t be the state government, it should be our small business owners. This is not sustainable, and we need to optimize how we’re doing business,” he said.

 

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