Posted: Jan. 13, 2005


Going national

Unless the name is Joseph R. Biden Jr., who seems to be on television as much as, oh, Paris Hilton, the state's politicians do not attract that much national attention.

It is the curse of a small state.

Still, it can be overcome occasionally with persistence and longevity, and it is happening. Recently U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper and even Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr. made a mark beyond Delaware.

It is nothing like Biden, the six-term Democrat who went globe-trotting again last weekend with U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican, as official U.S. observers for the Palestinian presidential election.

Even so, Castle made a stab at the pinnacle by getting himself mentioned -- complete with photograph -- in the Jan. 3 edition of the New York Times. In a story about Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, five Republican House members are identified as "the Republican leadership's supporting cast," and Castle is one of them, described as the "leader of a shrinking moderate bloc."

Castle is beginning his seventh term in the House of Representatives, a Delaware record for service that began with his election to the Congress in 1992 after two terms as governor. He is the president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a centrist group, and his staff noted in a recent press release that he received the most ever votes cast in a statewide election here with 245,978 ballots.

Carper made news by climbing onto the first rung of the Senate Democratic leadership ladder. He was appointed a deputy whip along with Bill Nelson of Florida and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin.

It puts Carper behind Minority Leader Harry Reid and Assistant Leader Richard Durbin, as well as behind the Senate president pro tempore emeritus, the secretary of the conference, the assistant floor leader and so on through the chief deputy whip, and it is not even a rung all his own, but the point is, it is leadership.

Carper got there in his first term, four years into his Senate tenure, although he is no political novice, of course. After 10 years as a congressman and eight years as governor, including a stint as chairman of the National Governors Association, he is wise to the ways of institutional influence -- and showing it.

As for Carney, a Democrat who is going into his second term as lieutenant governor, he showed up as a notable quotable in the December issue of Governing magazine.

In a squib headlined "Compromise on Exercise," the magazine reported what Carney had to say about the difficulties in promoting physical fitness: "I had to change my mindset as I talked to groups of adults. We are just trying to get them off the couch. Talking about being hot and sweaty turned them off."

It's in the cards 

Among the greeting cards sent to Delaware Grapevine this holiday season, there were three that seemed particularly noteworthy. They came from state Treasurer Jack A. Markell, Joe Biden and John Carney.

As is customary with cards from officeholders, they featured family photographs. As is customary with Democrats, all carried the union bug, showing the cards were printed in union shops.

Markell was Jack-be-nimble, his card arriving weeks early.

Biden's card was conspicuous by his absence. He was not pictured in the family portrait. Instead, his children and grandchildren were the focus. In fact, the first name on the signature line inside was Beau Biden's. Hmmm . . . who's the candidate here?

Carney's card arrived two days after Christmas. At least it cleared up what the "C" for his middle name stands for. It must be Johnny "Come-lately" Carney.