Posted: Jan, 23, 2004
"V" IS FOR "VETO"
The day after Gov. Ruth Ann Minner declared
she would veto a bill trying to roll back the size of the New Castle
County Council, her delighted fellow Democrats were well on their
way to recruiting a full slate of candidates in the six new
Five candidates were either already up and
running or leaning that way by the time the county Democrats met
Wednesday evening at state party headquarters in New Castle.
"We've got a governor who has supported the
party better than any other governor. Yesterday's statement is a
typical example of what I'm talking about," said John D. Daniello,
the Democrats' county chairman.
Because of Minner's promised veto, the
County Council will expand with this election from seven members to
13 members, from six districts and a council president to 12
districts and a council president.
The Democrats have a 5-2 majority on the
current council, and they used that muscle to draw new districts
they believe could as much as double their numbers. The Republican
majority in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday managed to
send to the governor a bill that would keep the council at seven
members, but Minner swiftly said she would veto it and appears to
have the clout to make it stick.
The county Democrats rewarded Minner by voting
to endorse her. Not that it was in doubt.
Meanwhile on the Republican side, names have
yet to surface for the new County Council seats. The party is
focused more on the top of the county ticket, where it hopes to
capitalize on the turmoil and intrigue surrounding Democratic County
Executive Thomas P. Gordon's administration to capture posts it last
won in the 1980s.
Republicans expect Christopher J. Castagno,
the New Castle City Council president, to run for county executive,
and they are on their way to sorting out the field for council
president. Paul J. Pomeroy, the Newark Republican Region vice
chairman, emerged as the likeliest candidate after Wilmington
Councilman Paul T. Bartkowski decided not to run.
Democrats are unsettled at the top of their
county ticket. County Council President Christopher A. Coons and
County Chief Administrative Officer Sherry L. Freebery both are in
the running for county executive, and there are three candidates
interested in the council presidency.
As of now, the Democrats do not have any
potential primaries for the district seats, where this lineup
appears to be coming together:
George D. Smiley in a New Castle-Christiana
area district split from Democratic Councilman J. Robert Woods; John
Cartier in a Brandywine Hundred-Edgemoor area district split from
Republican Councilman Robert S. Weiner; Timothy P. Sheldon,
considering a race in a Newark-Pike Creek Valley-Hockessin area
district split from Republican Councilman William J. Tansey;
Wilmington Councilman Norman M. Oliver, considering a race in a
Wilmington-Elsmere-New Castle area district split from Democratic
Councilman Penrose Hollins; and David L. Tackett in a Newark-Glasgow
area district split from Democratic Councilwoman Karen G. Venezky.
The Democrats have yet to find a candidate for
a new district in lower New Castle County, extending from New Castle
south through Delaware City and below the canal. Previously it was
represented by Democratic Councilwoman Patty W. Powell.
The Democrats are sounding like a party that
expects to make the most of these open seats. As Coons put it,
"There's every reason we ought to win five out of six County Council
seats, and frankly, six out of six."
The Republicans are only too aware that the
Democrats are massing, and they fear it could have ramifications
beyond the County Council. State Rep. Roger P. Roy, a Limestone
Hills Republican, said as much Friday evening at a dinner for his
district at the Hockessin Memorial Hall.
"The governor is looking at this, I'm sure,
from a pure political perspective. She wants to get the vote out in
New Castle County," Roy said. "We're going to need every vote, or
we're going to get wiped out on a statewide basis."
# # #
A SHORT-LIVED BID
Dover Republican Peter K. Schaeffer spent
seven days thinking he might run for insurance commissioner but
decided against it.
Schaeffer started to put together a campaign
immediately after Insurance Commissioner Donna Lee Williams, a
three-term Republican, stunned the party by announcing Jan. 9 she
was getting out of politics.
Within a week, however, Schaeffer opted to
throw his support to Jeffrey E. Cragg, the New Castle County
Republican co-chairman, who has been saying for more than a year he
wanted to run if the opportunity was there.
The Democrats have two candidates seeking the
office: Matthew P. Denn, a Wilmington lawyer who was Minner's legal
counsel, and Karen Weldin Stewart, their nominee in 2000.
Even with Schaeffer's withdrawal, the
Republicans are not yet set. State Rep. Donna D. Stone, a Dover
Republican, is being urged to make the race, particularly by some
Kent County Republicans who would like to replace Williams, a Kent
County Republican woman, with another Kent County Republican woman.
This is the way political decisions are made.
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