Posted: March 3, 2004
COME ON IN, THE CANDIDACY IS FINE
Paul G. Clark, a Newark Democrat who really,
really wants to get elected in New Castle County, has emerged as the
second candidate in his party to become serious about running for
County Council president.
Clark showed he meant business Tuesday evening
by holding a combination announcement/fund-raiser that brought about
100 people willing to write checks for $100 to his campaign.
The setting at the Iron Hill Brewery on the
Wilmington riverfront proved to be nifty little choice for Clark.
Because the brewery is a franchise that began in Newark and expanded
to Wilmington, the event managed to link the city where the
candidate's home turf is to the city where great gobs of Democratic
votes are. (The gathering also joined politics to alcohol, but that
is an ironclad connection too obvious to dwell on.)
This race is Clark's second run for county
government, where he already has demonstrated his commitment by
serving as the vice chairman of the Board of Adjustment, which has a
say in land use. He lost a County Council race in 2002, drawing 46
percent of the vote against Republican William J. Tansey.
Clark, 47, is a lifelong county resident who
grew up in Boxwood, near the General Motors plant, graduated from
the old Conrad High School and the University of Delaware and now
manages Boscov's Department Store.
Clark does not have the Democratic field to
himself. Dianne M. Kempski, a county row officer, declared her
candidacy last month. County Councilman Penrose Hollins has said he
plans to announce next month.
The Republican side is less complex. The
nominee is expected to be Ernesto B. Lopez, a political newcomer the
leadership would like to add to the party's farm team, although
Lopez may have to get by a modest primary with Gary L. Bowman, who
lost a previous primary for the council presidency four years ago.
One measure of the seriousness of a candidate
is how many officeholders, party officials and other candidates show
up to watch the announcement, even though an appearance is not
necessarily an endorsement. Clark got a passing grade on the
While party officials stayed away because of
the looming primary, the event drew Christopher A. Coons, the
incumbent who is running for county executive, and two officeholders
from Clark's Newark base in Councilwoman Karen G. Venezky and state
Sen. David P. Sokola. In addition, Councilman J. Robert Woods
attended, as did three council candidates -- Paul H. Morrill Jr.,
Timothy P. Sheldon and David L. Tackett.
There was one last way Clark showed his
seriousness. Although party leaders would prefer to unite behind a
single candidate, Clark served notice that he would not be the one
to step aside.
"There will be a primary for this position,"
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN . . .
After five years as the Kent County Republican
chairman, Patrick W. Murray intends to tell party members Wednesday
evening he is resigning the post, although not leaving politics.
Murray has decided to give elected office a
try. He wants to challenge Democratic Commissioner P. Brooks Banta
for the Levy Court, the county's governing board. If asked, Murray
also will acknowledge he is thinking ahead, if successful, to a
possible 2006 race against state Sen. Nancy W. Cook, a Democrat who
has been a Legislative Hall fixture since 1974 and a power player
who co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee.
Murray expects to make his resignation
effective May 17, after the Republican state convention scheduled
for May 15. Kathy Amalfitano, who has served as the vice chairwoman
for five years with Murray, will become the interim chairwoman until
the county Republicans decide how they want to fill the position.
No doubt Murray's Levy Court campaign will be
an assault of heavy artillery. He is not known for doing anything
gently. A former FBI man who also has been an MBNA executive and a
public safety secretary in the Castle administration, Murray has
built his reputation by making the Kent County Republicans a force
in the party.
Murray's annual Lincoln Day dinners have grown
so big, attracting more than 500 people, that they have come to be
regarded as a statewide event. He entered party lore four years ago
when the Kent County turnout in a gubernatorial primary saved the
candidacy of John M. Burris, the endorsed candidate who barely beat
William Swain Lee. When Lee decided to run again for governor in
2004, one of his first acts was to recruit Murray.
Despite all the bombast and bombs-away that
Murray is known for, he promised a fair fight. "I think the world of
Brooks Banta. There won't be anything below the belt in this
campaign," he said.
Murray had one more promise for the county
Republicans he has led. "I'll make them all proud of me. I'll work
very, very hard," he said.
If Matthew P. Denn does not get elected
insurance commissioner, the people attending his fund-raisers are
suggesting he might want to try stand-up comedy, instead.
Denn, a Democratic lawyer who was counsel to
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, spoke last week to about 75 people gathered at
the Brandywine Hundred home of one of his partners at Young Conaway
Stargatt & Taylor.
Denn introduced the crowd to Michele, his wife
of 18 months, saying all sorts of wonderful husbandly things about
her -- until the end. Then he conceded that he did have one
complaint about her.
"It's constructive criticism," Denn said. "She
has not yet maxed out to the campaign."
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