Posted: April 27, 2003; Updated: April 28,
SOMEONE TO RUN
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Terry A. Strine, a Republican backbencher who
believes in his party, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, has emerged
out of nowhere as a likely candidate to fill a perilous leadership
gap that opened when state Chairman J. Everett Moore Jr.
unexpectedly decided to step aside.
Strine is telling party leaders he is willing
to stand for the chairmanship at the state convention, scheduled for
May 17 in Dover, when Delaware Republicans gather to elect someone
to the post for a two-year term.
"I do not seek power, glory or my name in
lights. I would be delighted if someone more capable stepped
forward, although I certainly have a passion for the success of the
party," Strine said during a telephone interview Sunday evening. "I
have the time and the energy to commit myself to the party, if
that's what everybody wants. It's not something I'm seeking."
Strine made his first public
pronouncement about the chairmanship Monday evening at a meeting of
the Brandywine Region, one of the seven geographical divisions in
the state Republican Party.
"I am willing to take it on. In fact, I am
enthusiastic to take it on," he said. "I believe I am going to be
able to help with your help."
Until this weekend, the state GOP was looking
at a looming void in its leadership -- ever since Moore stunned his
membership in March by saying he would not seek a second term -- but
events moved quickly to change the situation.
The opportunity opened for Strine when
National Committeewoman Priscilla B. Rakestraw, who was the last big
name contemplating the post, notified party officials by e-mail that
she had decided against it.
"I am honored to be the national
committeewoman and believe that I can best serve our party, our
officeholders, our candidates -- and my family -- by continuing in
this position," she wrote.
With that decision, Rakestraw followed state
Vice Chairman John R. Matlusky and Kent County Chairman Patrick W.
Murray, both of whom also received consideration, out of the field
of potential candidates. Instead, Strine's name was circulated.
Whether or not others express interest remains
to be seen. Newark Regional Chairman Michael Ramone also was being
mentioned, and as of Sunday evening, Brandywine Region Chairman Ernest
E. Cragg was unsure about what would happen at his meeting 24 hours
"Terry requested to speak, so that will
happen. There may be others. This is all happening pretty fast,"
Ramone did show up at the meeting, but he used
it as a forum to bow out. "The Republican Party needs to come out of
our state convention unified," Ramone said. "Terry, I'm 100 percent
Republican leaders are signaling their
acceptance of Strine in the party's top spot.
Moore said, "He does have quite a bit of
support. He is an idea guy and a doer. There would be some weeks
that I would get three memos from him. He's got unbelievable energy,
he's got the resources, and he's likable."
Rakestraw said, "If Terry Strine becomes
chairman, he will have my unqualified support. He's innovative, he's
a success in the business world, and he has strong Republican
Strine, 65, is a Wilmington businessman who
runs Investors Realty Inc., a property management firm with 45
employees. He has worked closely with Moore and made his mark in the
party by creating the Republican Leadership Breakfasts, once-a-month
meetings with speakers. He also writes a column for Elephants Heard,
the Republican monthly newsletter.
He describes himself this way: "I'm a
passionate family guy. I'm a principled conservative. I share the
beliefs of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld and
Condoleeza Rice. I believe in the Big Tent. Republicans have more in
common with each other than they do with the other party."
He knows what his two major projects would be,
if he does become chairman. "Supporting George W. Bush and electing
a governor are projects one and two," Strine said.
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