Posted: May 18, 2004


More Tombstones from Tom and Sherry

When Marie Glynn went to put flowers on her mother's grave for Mother's Day, she was surprised to find someone else had been there first.

Two pink carnations were lying on the gravesite in All Saints Cemetery on Kirkwood Highway in Newark. Glynn, who lives in Newark, wondered whether her sister had stopped by. Then she saw the tag attached to the flowers.

"Happy Mother's Day. Tom Gordon and Sherry Freebery."

Glynn has no connection to politics beyond being registered to vote. She has nothing to do with New Castle County government, where Thomas P. Gordon, the two-term Democratic executive, and Sherry L. Freebery, the chief aide who is running to succeed him, hold sway. There was no reason for the flowers to be on the grave, where her mother was buried more than 20 years ago.

Glynn looked around and saw some other carnations. "I thought, this is not happening, this is not happening. Politicking in the cemetery," she said. "Maybe some people look at it as a good or kind gesture, but it's kind of like trespassing."

What is it with Gordon and Freebery and tombstones? First they turn part of Carousel Park in Pike Creek Valley into a replica of Tombstone the town, the Arizona site of the shootout at the OK Corral, and now it is carnations at real tombstones.

Gordon and Freebery say they are as mystified by the whereabouts of the flowers as Glynn. There were carnations presented on Mother's Day to mothers who participated in a county-sponsored family sleepover at Carousel Park the night before, according to Freebery, but there were no plans for distributing them elsewhere.

"I'm not handing out flowers on gravesites. It wasn't something that I did or Sherry did," Gordon said.

At least, not yet. "I think it's not a bad idea," Gordon said.

Senior moment

When Priscilla B. Rakestraw was re-elected Friday as the Republican national  committeewoman for Delaware, it put her in line to become the most senior member of the Republican National Committee, the party's governing assembly.

Rakestraw's time on the national committee dates back to 1976. For years and years, she has been second in seniority to Martha C. Moore, who has been the national committeewoman for Ohio since 1968.

Finally Moore is bowing out. Terms on the national committee last for four years, from national nominating convention to national nominating convention, so Rakestraw will become the senior member on Sept. 3, the day after the Republicans conclude their convention in New York City.

Rakestraw's seniority was the subject of some consideration during her re-election campaign against Gretchen Ellixson, the challenger from Brandywine Hundred. Ellixson made an issue out of it, declaring the party needed "a fresh outlook for the first time in 28 years."

Rakestraw's backers countered that seniority means clout in politics. It is, for example, why Republican William V. Roth Jr. and Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr. were such a one-two punch for Delaware in the U.S. Senate.

Even before the votes were cast, with Rakestraw trouncing Ellixson 90-23, it was clear Ellixson should have left the seniority issue alone.

The election was held during a meeting of the Republican State Committee in Dewey Beach. Ellixson was nominated by Donna Turner, a fellow Brandywine Hundred Republican, who forgot how bad it can get by asking a question without knowing the answer.

Turner asked a roomful of about 450 Republicans, "Is it essential that we have the same national committeewoman for 32 years?"

All around the room people shouted, "Yes!"