Posted: Jan. 23, 2008


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Jack Markell, the Democratic state treasurer running for governor, has $2.5 million in his campaign account. It is a lot of money.

It is a million dollars more than what Mike Castle, the Republican congressman who is a prodigious fund raiser, has tucked away. It is roughly a quarter of what Joe Biden, the Democratic senator, collected while chasing the presidential nomination.

It is a marker that says Markell is refusing to be muscled aside, no matter how many party insiders and labor unions line up with John Carney, the Democratic lieutenant governor who also wants to be Delaware's governor.

Carney has $1 million in his treasury. Getting to seven figures once meant something in this state, but now it is so Ruth Ann Minner.

Markell makes no apologies for his willingness to spend such a staggering sum.

"We have to get our message out. It's very expensive to communicate with voters," he said. "We're thrilled by all the support we have received. It's a very positive statement for the campaign."

In amassing a war chest, Markell had built-in advantages over Carney.

One advantage was the election calendar. By state law, campaign contributors may give a candidate up to $1,200 per election. Carney won his current four-year term in 2004, while Markell won his in 2006. It meant Carney's flushest backers were limited to one-time donations of $1,200 since 2004, while Markell's could write him $1,200 checks for treasurer and do it again for governor.

Markell had negligible opposition in 2006. He came out of the race with more than $1 million in the bank and kept going.

Another advantage Markell had was himself. His time as a telecommunications executive left him able to write his own checks. His campaign account includes a personal loan of $725,000.

There is no precedent in Delaware for a primary of this magnitude with the candidates ready to spend $3.5 million between them. All that is certain is that the state's 252,000 or so registered Democrats will be super-saturated with Markell and Carney through their televisions, radios, Internet, telephones and mailboxes, more of it coming from Markell.

With the Republican Party in meltdown, the vote Sept. 9 on Primary Day looks to be the one for governor. Its intensity could leave voters thinking that in ancient times there were 10 plagues, but now there is an 11th, and it is Carney and Markell.

# # #

Alan Levin's departure was so precipitous, even his lawyers had no idea his Republican candidacy for governor was dead before arrival.

Levin peeled out Thursday, a day after the legal papers were filed with the Department of State to incorporate his campaign -- except that his name was misspelled, so the aborted campaign was created as "Alan Levine for Delaware Inc."

Never mind.