Posted: Jan. 26, 2006


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The Delaware Republicans have taken a deep breath for another plunge into finding a frontline candidate to run against U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, who will lead off the Democrats' statewide ticket in November.

The Republicans have turned their attention to Jan C. Ting, a law professor whose background in immigration policy and easy conversational style have landed him numerous appearances as a "talking head" expert from the conservative side on CNN, National Public Radio, ABC's "Nightline," NBC's "Today" show and other programs.

Ting has not agreed to run, although he is considering it, as Republican Party leaders urge him to do it with all the fervor of a fraternity rush.

"Jan Ting is the individual who has been approached by a lot of people. It's not there yet. It's not a deal, it's not a commitment," said Terry A. Strine, the Republican state chair.

The party has reason to be restrained. It has been turned down twice by potential candidates it coveted, first by Christopher A. Bullock, the pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in Wilmington, and next by Michele M. Rollins, the business executive whose interests include Dover Downs and a Jamaican vacation resort.

Still, the Republicans remain determined to locate someone who would be an upgrade over Michael D. Protack, a serial candidate who had previous flings for the U.S. Senate and the governorship and has filed for the 2006 Senate race.

"I need to be neutral, but my job is to find a candidate who can run a highly credible race," Strine said.

The Republicans are trying to fill three holes on their statewide ballot. In addition to a Senate candidate, they need opponents for two-term Treasurer Jack A. Markell and Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, the senator's son who is running for attorney general, to join U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle and state Auditor R. Thomas Wagner Jr. on the Republican ticket.

Ting is a familiar figure in Republican circles. A former Brandywine Region Republican chair, he surfaced before as a potential candidate against U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the six-term Democrat, but never got into the race.

There is no guarantee he will do it this time, either.

"I'm undecided. People are urging me to do it, and I appreciate it very much. If I decide to make a race, it's open as to which race," Ting said. "The party needs candidates in three top statewide spots. Am I going to run against Markell? Am I going to run against Beau Biden for an open slot? Maybe I'm not going to make any race."

Ting, 57, of Alapocas, is a professor at Temple University law school, where he teaches courses not only in immigration law, but taxation. He has federal experience as an assistant commissioner in the Immigration & Naturalization Service during the first Bush administration from 1990 to 1993, and he was instrumental in Temple's efforts to establish a law school in China. His law degree is from Harvard.

The Republicans are not underestimating the task that Ting would face. Carper has more statewide wins than anyone in Delaware history with 11, successfully running three times for treasurer, five times for the U.S. House of Representatives, twice for governor and once for senator. As of the fall 2005, Carper had nearly $2 million in his campaign treasury.

Still, the party appears to be counting on Ting. William Swain Lee, the ex-judge who ran for governor, says he expects to be introducing Ting around Sussex County, where Lee is the Republican chair.

Strine, the state chair, says one Republican lawyer was so enthusiastic that he called Ting the most qualified person to be in the Senate. Strine noted drolly, "There are 100 people who would disagree," but there is no doubt the party thinks it could have found someone who is more than qualified to save it from giving Carper an embarrassing bye.