Posted: June 7, 2016
CARNEY'S TIMING IS EVERYTHING
By Celia Cohen
Monday at the Monday Club. John Carney was there. Naturally.
Carney, the Democratic congressman, is not so much running for governor as being pulled into it, everything coming along at the right place at the right time.
Where else and when else to be at the Monday Club than on Monday?
The Monday Club, which used to be in Wilmington but is now in New Castle, is a Delaware institution. It has been around since 1876, when it was founded by African-American men whose day off was Monday from their jobs as butlers, cooks, chauffeurs and other similar work.
Louis Redding, the great civil rights lawyer, was a member in later years. So was Herman Holloway Sr., the first African-American state senator in Delaware.
History was passing before Carney's eyes, and he sounded like he was feeling the pull.
Maybe this is what happens to someone who just turned 60 and once thought his shot at governor was probably over, when he was the lieutenant governor and lost the 2008 primary that sent Jack Markell onward to the governorship, now coming to an end after two terms.
At the time, Carney said rather drolly he had no "Plan B," but it turned out there was one, getting elected congressman in 2010, and it put him in the right place at the right time as life took over.
So here he was, at a fund-raiser for his campaign at the Monday Club, with about 60 people listening to him give a short speech.
"You don't often get second chances in life, right? I feel like this is a second chance. You know, I did this once before," said Carney as he got a laugh.
"I come to it really under very tragic circumstances. I expected to support the vice president's son Beau. I approach this with a very different attitude," Carney went on.
"I'm down to the last rodeo or two in my public service career, and I feel like, given the challenges that we face, given the fact that this is a second chance at this for me, given the fact that it occurred at the vice president's and his family's worst nightmare, that we need to lay it out there, make the tough decisions. We're working our butts off to engage the people of our state."
Still, Carney has yet to ratchet up his campaign. Part of it is that sense of timing that has him staying out of Markell's way until the legislature goes home at the end of the month, but another part is he really does not have to.
He is visible enough as the congressman, the campaign contributions keep flowing, and the Republicans look like they are just going through the motions with Colin Bonini, a state senator who is expected to be their candidate but has not even gotten around to filing yet. Besides, the Republicans have not elected a governor in this Democratic blue state since 1988.
If Carney made any news with his remarks, it came by recognizing Tony Allen, a banker who was there, and praising him as the chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, which drafted a much-debated proposal backed by the governor to reorganize school districts.
"Tony and his group have done tremendous work laying out a plan and a road back," he said.
The fund-raiser was hosted by "Stormin'" Norman Oliver, a businessman with a practiced political hand, and Oluseyi Senu-Oke and Carole Guy, husband-and-wife physicians.
Oliver and Carney go way back, to the 1990s, when Oliver was running a youth basketball league called "Stormin's Classic" and Carney was one of the coaches, so they swapped lies and yukked it up about those days.
"We lost every game my first year," Carney remembered cheerily.
Others who were there could have done with that kind of attention from Carney, but it was not forthcoming. He did not publicly acknowledge Greg Fuller or Kathy McGuiness, both of them part of the horde of Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, or Mike Purzycki, one of the swarm of Democratic candidates for mayor.
Carney has his timing down. They are on their own for theirs.