Posted: Feb. 4, 2004
DELAWARE GETS ITS 15
DELEGATES OF FAME
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden
Jr. voted the way most Delaware Democrats did. He went for John F.
Kerry in the presidential primary Tuesday.
Not that it was a surprise.
In the lead-up to the vote, Biden did all but send semaphores that
Kerry was his man, based on the reasoning that most seemed to be
influencing Democrats' votes -- political philosophy and
competitiveness with President George W. Bush and the Republicans.
"This is the guy I'm closest
to politically. This is the guy most likely to beat Bush," Biden
said in an interview after he headlined a jammed political rally in
a New Castle union hall Friday evening, when Biden came to praise
Kerry and all but endorse him.
Up and down Delaware, among
Democrats who regard themselves as liberal, moderate or
conservative, Kerry emerged as their candidate of choice.
The Massachusetts senator
carried the state with 50 percent of the vote, according to
unofficial election returns, with nothing less than a runaway
victory in a seven-candidate field.
Kerry took 50 percent of the
vote in New Castle County, 49 percent in Kent County and 55 percent
in Sussex County, according to CNN's poll results.
The television network also
found Kerry to be the choice of 50 percent of the self-identified
liberals, 52 percent of the moderates and 47 percent of the
conservatives. In addition, he was the favorite of 71 percent of the
Democrats who said beating Bush was the key factor in making up
"What George Bush has
managed to do in three years -- and is doing more and more each day
-- is energize Democrats where no one or nothing else has been able
to do that," said Edward R. "Ted" Kaufman, a past Democratic
national committeeman for Delaware.
"Money and organization are
fine, but it's like a sailboat. If the wind isn't blowing, it's not
going anywhere. Money and organization get trumped by enthusiasm,"
The unofficial Delaware
breakdown went this way: Kerry, 50 percent; Joseph I. Lieberman, 11
percent; John R. Edwards, 11 percent; Howard B. Dean, 10 percent;
Wesley K. Clark, 10 percent; Alfred C. "Al" Sharpton, 6 percent;
Dennis J. Kucinich, 1 percent; others, 1 percent.
Once the returns are
official, they will become the basis for allocating Delaware's
delegates to the Democratic national nominating convention in July
in Boston. The delegates will be selected in April at a state party
The state is entitled to a
total of 23 delegates, including 15 delegates determined by the
primary vote and eight others known as super-delegates who are
unpledged to any candidate.
The super-delegates are:
Biden, U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, state
Chairman Richard H. Bayard, Vice Chairwoman Leah Betts, National
Committeeman Bert A. DiClemente, National Committeewoman Karen
Valentine, and an additional unpledged delegate to be chosen at the
Of the remaining 15 pledged
delegates, Kerry is expected to claim 14 of them, and Sharpton gets
the last one. A candidate must poll at least 15 percent in a
geographic locale -- the three counties and Wilmington -- to earn a
delegate. In addition to Kerry, the only candidate to qualify was
Sharpton, who topped the threshold in the city, although it was
unclear Wednesday by exactly how much.
Sharpton's backers were
thrilled. "I feel like Muhammad Ali. We shook up the world," said
Wilmington Councilman Norman M. Oliver.
Beyond Kerry's campaign,
Delaware Democrats collectively were feeling like winners because
they believe their primary counted for something for the first time.
This was the state's third try at holding a primary after switching
from caucuses in 1996, but the first one since Delaware moved the
date by three days to accommodate New Hampshire and end a candidate
Not only did Delaware pick
up some national coverage, voting in a roundup with six other
states, but Lieberman found the state important enough to risk his
candidacy on his showing here, and Kerry and Sharpton joined
Lieberman in personally campaigning here.
"Good, bad or indifferent,
we have had a presidential candidate stake his whole campaign on
Delaware," said Robert L. Byrd, a lobbyist who is also a political
strategist for the governor.
Furthermore, the candidates
who came here fared better here. Kerry won. Lieberman never got out
of single digits anywhere else. Sharpton generally was a blip
elsewhere, although he polled 10 percent of the vote in South
Carolina, where he also spent time.
"Obviously Kerry came here
and did well. It certainly helped Lieberman and Sharpton by coming
here. This is Lieberman's best state, and Sharpton's at 6 percent,"
said Edward J. Freel, who was the secretary of state when Carper was
governor and helped his old boss with Lieberman's campaign.
State Democrats appeared to
feel bittersweet about knocking Lieberman out of the race --
gratified to have played a part in winnowing the field but sorry to
reject a candidate who wooed them with such verve.
When the Democrats gathered
Tuesday night at their state headquarters in New Castle to hear the
returns, Chairman Rick Bayard approached Lawrence E. Windley, the
state director for Lieberman.
Windley, a Dover resident,
had fallen on the ice Friday morning and broken his shoulder while
his candidate was campaigning here, but he never went to a doctor
for treatment until the day's events were done. Bayard gently
touched Windley's sling.
"Purple Heart," Bayard said.
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