Posted: Nov. 21, 2003
BRANDYWINE GETS HUNDREDS AT GOP
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
The Brandywine Hundred Republicans pulled off
quite a coup on Friday evening. They got about 300 people to pay $50
each for a mock election that meant nothing and a speaker who never
The occasion was the Brandywine Region
Republican Committee's "Road to Victory Dinner," held in the
gentry-like ambiance of the DuPont Country Club, where the prime
entertainment was a straw poll for the party's contenders for
governor, lieutenant governor, New Castle County executive and
County Council president.
Anyone with a ticket -- the "poll tax," as
Brandywine Chairman Ernest E. Cragg quipped -- could vote, and that
included a table or so of Kent County Republicans imported by
Michael D. Protack, a gubernatorial candidate, and a smattering of
There also was supposed to be a speech by U.S.
Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania with an introduction from U.S. Rep.
Michael N. Castle, but they missed the event because of votes in the
That is the way it has gone for the 2003
dinner. It originally was scheduled for Sept. 19 but had to be
postponed. "We had two problems -- Isabel and Ruth Ann," said Cragg,
referring to the hurricane and the state of emergency called by
Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
The mock election was about as real as Joe
Millionaire's money. Even the ballot failed to reflect reality.
The vote for governor had William Swain Lee,
the retired judge who is favored by the party establishment, beating
Protack, a Yorklyn airline pilot, 133-81. The Democrats will have
Minner on the ballot as she seeks a second term.
The only candidate listed for lieutenant
governor was Kelly L. Gates, who got 169 votes with 11 other votes
going to two write-in candidates, but her showing is unlikely to
matter. The only vote really expected to count for lieutenant
governor is Lee's, and he has not committed to anyone yet. On the
Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr. will be running again.
The straw poll for county executive was an
anomaly. The ballot listed House Speaker Terry R. Spence, who
increasingly is not expected to run, but it did not list New Castle
City Council President Christopher J. Castagno, who is. Spence and
Castagno sat side by side at the dinner -- more evidence there would
be no competition between them. Spence polled 179 votes, with
Castagno getting 29 write-in votes.
County executive is a race the Republicans
would like to win. Although they last took the office in 1984, they
hope to capitalize on the fallout from a federal investigation and
what is expected to be a take-no-prisoners primary between County
Council President Christopher A. Coons and Chief Administrative
Officer Sherry L. Freebery.
If there was any buzz, it was for the three
candidates for council president, all of whom have said they are
running and were listed on the ballot. The tally was 107 votes for
Newark Region Vice Chairman Paul J. Pomeroy, 87 votes for Wilmington
Councilman Paul T. Bartkowski and 21 votes for Gary L. Bowman, an
unsuccessful candidate for the nomination in 2000.
The Democrats also have three candidates
interested in council president: Paul G. Clark, a County Council
candidate in 2002; County Councilman Penrose Hollins; and Dianne M.
Kempski, a county row officer.
To say anyone "won" a straw poll would be a
misnomer. The only winner was the Brandywine Region, which got all
those people to pay $50 for a phantom election and a phantom
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