I was having a conversation with my father the other day in the context of the League of Women Voters forums which have been hosted over the last two weeks. He was saying that the incumbents at the local candidate forum in particular on October 17th seemed to be very knowledgeable about the issues and legislation in Delaware. I noticed a similar familiarity with the intricacies of federal policy from Senator Carper at the statewide forum on October 24th. His comment was that this expertise was of little value if the candidates did not philosophically align with the voters.
I would take that one step further. It should be expected that incumbent legislators are familiar with the issues and legislation they are charged with addressing and voting on. Anyone doing the job as long as they have should have a passable knowledge above and beyond what should be expected of the average voter sitting in the audience. They can reveal (a little) inside baseball about how a piece of legislation was developed and the various working groups they have been part of to try to address this issue or that one. If, having done the job for 4-18 years, they cannot present themselves in a way that illustrates their obvious experience, then they are clearly ill suited to the position.
What voters must ask themselves, beyond philosophy, is what are the results?
If the result is higher taxes, more spending, and less freedom and prosperity, then what good is a little inside baseball? Any challenger given a month or two to get their bearings once elected will be familiar with the procedures and issues getting things done in the legislature. Incumbents may start with that advantage, but they also carry the disadvantage of having presided over what has come before. They have voting records illustrating the issues they've gotten wrong, the compromises they've made to appease the special interests bankrolling them, and the failures they've presided over either through action or inaction.
If you're happy with where things are, by all means, vote for experience. If you're not, then don't be blinded by it. Change starts at home. Vote the incumbents out.