Posted: Jan. 19, 2010
By Celia Cohen
"Delaware Notebook" is a collection of noteworthy items around the state. This edition takes a look at an unusual concentration of executive lines of succession and a politician's latest filing -- not for office, but for bankruptcy.
Tony DeLuca, the scrappy president pro tem of the state Senate, probably came as close as he ever will to becoming the governor.
The cause was the massing of political power in Brandywine Hundred last week for the funeral of Jean Biden, the mother of the vice president and the grandmother of the state attorney general.
Gov. Jack Markell attended. So did Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. It goes without saying that Beau Biden, the attorney general, was there.
It meant the officials who are supposed to step up if something happens to the governor were all at the same place at the same time. The order of succession is spelled out in the Delaware Constitution -- first the lieutenant governor, then the secretary of state, then the attorney general.
Next comes the Senate president pro tem. That would be DeLuca. He did not go to the funeral, which coincided with the opening day of the General Assembly's 2010 session.
DeLuca is an electrician by trade. The most executive experience he has is his administrative job in the state Labor Department.
He had no idea the line of succession had snaked so near.
"I didn't realize that. That is a wake-up call," DeLuca said. "I don't know anybody wants to be governor now."
Great extremes were available to keep DeLuca from moving to Woodburn. So much Secret Service and police force converged on the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, it would be a wonder if there was an uneaten doughnut left in New Castle County.
The show of security, of course, was for the other line of succession in attendance -- President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The presidency goes next to the secretary of state. Although Bill Clinton went to the funeral, Hillary Clinton was traveling, so she missed it.
President Clinton? Governor DeLuca? The country seems so much better off.
# # #
Filing is what politicians do. They file for office. They file campaign finance reports. In the legislature they file bills. One politician just shook up the routine with a filing that could give the willies to the rest of them, though.
John Brady filed for bankruptcy.
Brady is the Sussex County recorder of deeds. He ran for insurance commissioner in 2008, outpolled every other Republican statewide candidate not named Mike Castle and still got clobbered. After the election, he switched his registration to Democrat.
Joe Biden called Brady from the vice president's office to welcome him. From there, it got worse.
The law firm of Brady Beauregard & Chasanov, where Brady practiced, dissolved. Brady was setting up a solo office in Lewes when he had surgery for heart trouble, followed by pneumonia, and hardly worked from July to October. His county salary of $22,000 a year did not go far.
He had a campaign debt of $10,600 he owed to the Rogers Sign Co. in Milton. When it came for the money, Brady was pushed into bankruptcy court earlier this month.
Candidates, particularly if they are lawyers, typically protect themselves from personal liability by incorporating their campaigns, but Brady did not.
"My campaign was not incorporated. It's a lesson to other candidates," he said.
Rogers Sign is the firm of Lynn Rogers, who used to be a Sussex County Democratic councilman. No one there was willing to talk about Brady's bankruptcy.
Brady filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, which wipes out debts, but he said it will be changed to Chapter 13, which arranges for repayment for all or part of the debts.
"I'll continue to do the best I can," he said.
Brady also has plans for another filing -- for re-election to his county office this year. Not that he was particularly cheered by thoughts of that filing, either.
"It's going to be a tough year for incumbents and a tough year for Democrats," he said.
It could make Brady the only candidate to be hit by both a Democratic tide and a Republican backwash. Some distinction.