Posted: Jan. 18, 2008


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

About this time in the election cycle, the legislative salary of $42,750 a year -- not to mention the preferential treatment and the attraction of trips to warm places during cold weather -- starts to look pretty good, much too good to walk away from.

It means that the legislators who dreamed up odd-numbered-year candidacies for statewide office for themselves discover that the snap-crackle-pop in their cereal bowl is as rousing as their support gets, and they had better focus on running for re-election if they want to stay in office.

Colin Bonini, the Republican state senator from Dover, was positive this would be his time to run for lieutenant governor. In other pre-election seasons, it has been U.S. senator or state treasurer.

Now Bonini is hemming and hawing. He figures he will decide before the end of February whether to return his sights to the Senate.

Something that probably will help Bonini make up his mind is that Matt Denn, the insurance commissioner who is one of the Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, has put out a preview of his campaign finance report, which is not officially due to be filed until next week.

Denn has $375,000. At last count a year ago, Bonini had $247 bankrolled for his next campaign.

Bonini's chronic case of fear of filing for higher office pales next to Terry Spence's. The Republican speaker has mused over the odd-numbered years about governor, lieutenant governor and New Castle County executive.

Earlier this month, Spence was starting to talk himself down to seeking another term in the House of Representatives from the Stanton-Christiana area, but he relapsed this week when Alan Levin, a fellow Republican, abruptly shelved his candidacy for governor. Give it time.

Nothing causes political daydreams like an open office. Bob Valihura and Donna Stone, both Republican state representatives, made goo-goo eyes last year at the one for insurance commissioner, although it was never more than a harmless flirtation for either of them. They have renewed their commitments to run in their House districts, Valihura in Brandywine Hundred and Stone in Dover.

With no engagement by either Valihura or Stone, it meant John Brady could get serious about going after insurance commissioner. Brady is the Sussex County recorder of deeds, a Republican elected official in his own right, but he is also an attorney for the House Republican caucus, so he waited patiently for the word from Valihura and Stone, since they are his bosses.

Brady expects to decide by mid-February whether he will run for sure, but he seems inclined to do it. He is a stout fellow who already is handing out political stickers with his slogan, "Let the Big Guy Work for You!"

Brady is the only Republican looking at the office. The Democrats have a crowded and ever-shifting field, which currently includes: Gene Reed Jr., an Insurance Department administrator; Karen Weldin Stewart, a candidate for the office in 2000 and 2004; and Tom Savage, a retired Wilmington Fire Department deputy chief who moved to Sussex County and lost a legislative race there in 2004.

Brady is itching to run, if for no other reason than he has his heart set on persuading Florence Henderson, who played the mother on "The Brady Bunch" television show, to come here for a celebrity endorsement.

He has the script prepared. Florence Henderson would say, "I know Brady boys, and John Brady's good for Delaware!"