Posted: Dec. 12, 2005


Bidens and tigers and bears, oh my! 

The Delaware Republican Party already is getting itself worked up about Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, the Wilmington lawyer and former federal prosecutor who will be the Democrats' candidate for attorney general in 2006.

It is using Beau Biden and his father-the-senator as fund-raising fodder, sending out one of those sky-is-falling mass mailings, asking for a contribution -- or a "special gift," as the Republicans preferred to say.

"PRIORITY LETTER," the party wrote in capital letters to its donors. "IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUESTED. We cannot allow liberals like Joe or Beau Biden to overrun our state and play politics with our safety."

The request was printed on yellow-alert-colored paper. Apparently yellow is not just for journalism anymore.

The party was a little slow off the mark in getting its mailing out. The letter was dated Nov. 18, coming after Republican Attorney General M. Jane Brady was confirmed for the Superior Court but before Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner designated Carl C. Danberg, a Democrat who was Brady's chief deputy, to fill the office until the next election.

The letter hyperventilated about what Minner might do about the vacancy. "Contact Gov. Minner. Let her know we urgently need experience and independence. Don't settle for Special Interests or Beau Biden," it said.

Before the mailing went out, though, the Republicans were overtaken by events.

Danberg's appointment was announced. Instead of rewriting the letter, the party sent it out, anyway, along with a separate "URGENT UPDATE" noting the appointment as well as Danberg's resolve not to run for the office himself but to support Biden.

"The Bidens are just one step closer to strengthening their tight grip on Delaware. This confirms we must waste no time in raising the resources to stop them. Please help today," the update said.

Never mind the obvious flaw in the Republican strategy. If the Biden menace is such a threat, it would make sense that the party would have talented lawyers galore lining up to run for attorney general. It has no one.

"We don't yet. The key is not to have a candidate but to have a viable, winnable candidate," said Terry A. Strine, the Republican state chairman.

Political contributions are nice. It is nicer to have a candidate to spend them on.

Where red sashes go to die

There was something missing when Jane Brady became a judge last week during a ceremonial session of the Superior Court.

Red sashes. The diagonal drape of scarlet that the court's judges wore over their black robes on ceremonial occasions was nowhere to be seen. The flash of sash was an innovation under Henry duPont Ridgely when he was the president judge, but he became a Supreme Court justice last year.

With Ridgely gone, so was the sash.

Ridgely was proud of those sashes, regarded as a reminder of the court's roots in 17th Century English courts and the colorful judicial garb of the time. As long as he was in charge of the Superior Court, the other judges endured them, pretending to smile through all of the wisecracks about how the sashes made them look like a lineup of banana republic generalissimos.

The last word on the sashes belonged to Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. Like the others, he wore an unadorned black robe during Brady's ceremony, but for the reception afterward, he changed into a jacket that was so red you wanted to shout, "The British are coming! The British are coming!"

It was an elegant jacket, almost knee-length, tailored for the occasion down to the cuffs that had bright gold buttons with the Superior Court insignia on them.

"I sewed all the sashes together," Scott quipped.