It’s true that Delaware’s newest political party is named after a spoof spy film that the party's founder Jeff Brown flirted with making in college. But the Blue Enigma Party is no joke.

It’s true that Delaware’s newest political party is named after a spoof spy film that the party's founder Jeff Brown flirted with making in college. But the Blue Enigma Party is no joke.

Brown, the state’s only third-party candidate for governor, is fighting back against the image he said was conjured by other media -- that he’s a hard partier, and that his foray into politics was just for fun.

So with his MySpace page – the source for some of the previous reports – now set on private, Brown wants to talk about the issues that compelled him to get involved in the politics.

Brown said he has a number of teachers who frequent the two Wilmington nightspots where he tends bar, and he vividly recalls a 2006 conversation about the struggles they were having in their classrooms.

“They don’t have crayons, books, pens and pencils,” he said. “They said they need a governor who is on their side, and I decided that night that I was going to run.”

For the next two years, Brown spent nearly every night he had off talking to prospective voters about his vision for Delaware. Finally, with 350 members, the Blue Enigma Party was officially recognized as a functioning political entity by the State of Delaware.

One of the folks Brown signed up was Stanton resident Stephen Annand, a self-described disenchanted Democratic who was so enthusiastic about the party he agreed to run for the state House of Representatives in the 19th District.

“I’m disenchanted with the entire political process,” Annand said. “My values fall in line with the Democratic Party but neither party ever follows through on what they say they’re going to. I’ve grown tired of the two-party system because you can’t seem to get any fresh ideas.”

Annand said he was drawn to Brown and the Blue Enigma Party because of its inclusiveness. While Annand described the party’s platform – centered on directing more funding to classrooms, promoting alternative energy and creating jobs in neighborhoods that need them – as progressive, he said he likes the fact that it remains silent on some of the more divisive social issues.

“The party is very inclusive, very diverse,” he said. “You can believe in whatever you want to and there’s a place for you.”

‘More of a common man’

If anything, Brown said he believes the majority of Delaware voters can identify with him more than either of his opponents, Democrat Jack Markell or Republican Bill Lee.

He’s raised pennies to the dollar of either of the other campaigns – $3,100 in total, most of which he’s spent on campaign signs that don’t even indicate which office he is running for. (He’s also running for the state House in the 13th District.)

“If Joe Biden can do it, why can’t I,” he said of running for multiple posts in the same year. “I couldn’t afford for them to print two separate signs, so I just had one made up that says, ‘Vote Jeff Brown.’”

Just campaigning is more difficult for him than the major party candidates, he said. When invited to a campaign event, rather than checking with a secretary about his campaign schedule, he’s got to see whether he’s scheduled to work or not and maybe talk to his boss.

“I’m not a lawyer, I’m a bartender,” he said. “I work hard like a lot of people in this state and if I miss work, I can’t pay my mortgage.”

But Brown, 37, said his financial shortcomings don’t make him any less qualified to be governor.

“I have as much executive experience as either of my opponents,” he said. “But I’m more of a common man, I can relate to people.”

Green in more ways than one

Annand, who just turned 30, wasn’t even alive when Bob Gilligan – the man he is trying to unseat – was first elected to the General Assembly. It's time younger Delawareans had more of a role in the political process Annand said, and the Blue Enigma Party can be the vehicle to give young, engaged people unprecedented ballot access in years to come.

“I think in some ways, the older generations don’t listen to us because they don’t think we have the knowledge base,” he said. “But there are a lot of issues out there that affect young people that maybe they don’t have to worry about, like the minimum wage or the state’s at-will firing policy. We’re the people working those entry level jobs where we’re susceptible to some of these things.”

Both candidates also pointed to the environment as an issue important to younger generations who still have the next half-century or so to spend on this planet.

“We’ve grown up under this sense of impending doom,” Annand said. “We’re the ones it seems like are sort of leading the effort towards being more environmentally-conscious.”

There’s no reason Delaware – at its size – can’t be the first energy independent state, he said. He supports additional tax credits and other incentives for those who use solar panels and other green technologies to power their homes or businesses.

The environment is intrinsically tied to the economy, Brown said. If elected, he’ll travel to Detroit and sit down with auto executives about keeping Delaware’s auto makers working.

“I’m going to tell them if you build a green car in one of our factories using fuel cells, I’m going to make sure we pass a law mandating every gas station in the state has the technology to fuel them,” he said. “We’ve got to think of creative ways to keep jobs here.”

A strong voice in the future

Both men realize the odds are stacked against them when it comes to fund raising and name recognition. They’re in it to win, they agreed – but realize they’ve got an uphill climb between now and Nov. 4.

At the end of the day though, Brown hopes this election sends a message to Delawareans that the party is to be taken seriously. Blue Enigma Party is here to stay, he said, and he hopes to use this election cycle to bring more people into the fold so in four years the party could have a whole slate of candidates running statewide.

“We’re a serious party and we have serious ideas for how we’d like to see our state improved,” he said. “If the state of Delaware recognizes us as a legitimate party and me as a legitimate candidate, so should everyone else.”