Posted: July 2, 2003
Matthew P. Denn, the governor's legal counsel,
wasted no time in making good on his commitment to file his
candidacy for insurance commissioner once the Delaware General
Assembly ended its annual session.
The House of Representatives went home Tuesday
morning about 10 minutes after midnight. The Senate left at 12:30
a.m. Denn was at the door of the election commissioner's office in
Dover when it opened at 8 a.m.
He couldn't have filed any faster without
breaking and entering.
Denn, a Democrat like his boss, had reasons
for doing it the way he did. He wanted to downplay his personal
politicking in deference to his work for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner until
the legislative year was over, although he was open about his
intentions to become a candidate afterwards. He is expected to
remain on the gubernatorial staff until later this year.
Denn plans to continue his association with
Minner by joining her on the ballot, although he may have to get
through a primary to do it. Karen Weldin Stewart, the Democratic
candidate in 2000, says she wants another shot at Insurance
Commissioner Donna Lee Williams, a three-term Republican, after
polling 47 percent of the vote.
Williams intends to run again, but there are
rumblings that she also could have a primary.
Also Tuesday, Denn announced the names of
three honorary co-chairs for his campaign finance committee. They
are: James H. Gilliam Sr., chairman of the Metropolitan Wilmington
Urban League; Steven J. Rothschild, a founding partner of the
Wilmington law office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom; and
Karen Valentine, the Democratic national committeewoman and staff
representative for the public employees' union.
There is no sense having finance co-chairs
without money, so before the day was out, Denn had e-mailed his
supporters that he was ready and willing to take their checks.
Actually, he couldn't have been more willing.
"We are happy to pick up contributions," Denn
# # #
GATES GETS GOING
Kelly L. Gates, a Republican who wants to run
for lieutenant governor, crossed the line for her campaign. The
state line, that is.
She planned her campaign kick-off reception,
which was held last week, for Philadelphia at the Four Seasons
Hotel. It was an unusual way to launch a candidacy. Even former
Republican Gov. Pierre S. du Pont and Democratic Sen. Joseph R.
Biden Jr. began their 1988 presidential campaigns on home ground
before making beelines for New Hampshire and Iowa.
Gates said she did it to accommodate about two
dozen business colleagues who wanted to attend the $100-a-ticket
event. She is with Gates and Company, a Delaware-based management
consulting and investment banking firm, formed about four years ago.
How far Gates will get with her candidacy is
open to question. The identity of the Republican challenger to Lt.
Gov. John C. Carney Jr., a first-term Democrat, is currently one of
the great mysteries of statewide politics, along with the identity
of the Democrat who will take on Republican Rep. Michael N. Castle,
now in his sixth term.
Too many Republicans are being mentioned for
lieutenant governor. No Democrats are being mentioned for the
Gates' fate is complicated further because
William Swain Lee, all but anointed as the Republican candidate for
governor, has yet to express a preference for anyone, beyond noting,
"I expect to have the say."
Lee has talked to Gates. "I told Kelly, if we
had a list of Top 10 names, you wouldn't be on it," he said.
Still, Lee didn't discourage Gates from
trying. "What does she have to lose? Maybe she can make herself
qualified to get on the list," Lee said.
# # #
The state House of Representatives believes it
set a new record with its last roll call of the 2003 legislative
session. The chamber unanimously defeated a bill -- with all 41
members voting "no."
Even Rep. Bruce C. Reynolds, the Republican
who was stuck with being the floor manager, voted against it.
The legislation, S.B. 167, would have expanded
Delaware State University's board from 11 trustees to 13. It
appeared to have support as long as the lawmakers thought the
Dover-based school itself was for it and it wasn't simply the whim
of prime sponsor Harris B. McDowell III, the Senate's Democratic
majority leader from Wilmington.
When some trustees began phoning in protest,
representatives couldn't bail out fast enough. Leading the exit was
Rep. Nancy H. Wagner, a Dover Republican who had signed on as a
co-sponsor. She announced she was taking her name off the bill and
would vote "no."
After the vote, House veterans said they could
recall two roll calls of one "yes" and 40 "no" but never a vote of
0-41. The near-unanimous defeats were for an amendment from
Republican Steven H. Amick, now a state senator, and a bill from
Republican Rep. Roger P. Roy for allowing liquor sales on holidays.
Roy seemed delighted to relinquish the record.
Reynolds was forced to handle the bill because
of his position as the House Education Committee chairman, but he
disavowed it even as he did so. He did not want the defeat to be
regarded as part of his legislative record but rather as an act of
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