Posted: Jan. 22, 2015


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Deciding to take an oath of office on January 20, the day the president does, for anybody who is not the president sounds like delusions of grandeur.

The Delaware Republicans just did it.

They re-enacted swearing-in ceremonies for the treasurer and auditor, representing the full complement of their statewide officeholders, and their legislators at an event Tuesday evening.

Not only was it January 20, it was also the date for Barack Obama to give the State of the Union this year, and the Republicans even went so far as to hold their event on Pennsylvania Avenue, namely, at the satellite campus of the University of Delaware in Wilmington.

Glory Hallelujah. All this for a party barely back from the political dead.

The Republicans called their event "Republican Strong," and Charlie Copeland, their state chair, listed their accomplishments from the 2014 election.

They made Ken Simpler, the treasurer, the first new Republican elected statewide in 20 years. They re-elected Tom Wagner as auditor. They picked up a seat in the state Senate to become a super-minority, capable of killing new taxes. They fought to a tie in a race for a Kent County row office, only to be stymied when legal proceedings awarded it to the Democrats.

These gains would look a lot better if they did not have to be stacked against the Democrats, whose holdings include the governor, the entire congressional delegation, the attorney general, the insurance commissioner and the General Assembly. Also a vice president.

Instead, for the Republicans, it is more like the line, been down so long, it looks like up to me.

The Republicans acted like they knew it, too. The mood of the evening was not so much "Republican Strong" as "Republican Relief," particularly since the 2014 election was largely the gift of an atrocious Democratic turnout in an off-year.

In remarks, the statewide officeholders showed they got the irony. Simpler noted, "I am the beneficiary of running in an off-presidential cycle," and Wagner drolly observed it has been his lot to be the chair of the statewide elected Republicans but was ready to cede it to Simpler, now that there were two of them.

If nothing else, the event signaled the Republicans were mending from their self-inflicted collapse precipitated by the 2010 senatorial primary between Mike Castle, the former governor and congressman, and Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party favorite who won but doomed the party's chances to take the seat.

Castle, who gave the keynote remarks, said as much. "We've had some splits in the Republican Party. I suffered from that myself. But I think that is behind us," he said.

Despite the presidential-sounding and pretentious date of the affair, it was essentially a modest evening with a modest attendance of about 100 people, a modest ticket price of $100, and a program of modest length so all those good Republicans could be home in time to watch the State of the Union. Or not.

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John Brady, the Democratic clerk of the peace in Sussex County, is recovering after a stay at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, where he was treated for heart trouble. He is recuperating at his sister's house in Pennsylvania but expects to return to Sussex shortly.

In tribute to his heart and his office, which is marrying people, Brady plans to be back at work in time for Valentine's Day.

One of his docs turned out to be an old acquaintance. It was Steve Chrzanowski, who used to be a News Journal reporter before he went into medicine, so there he was, still poking and prodding a politician all these years later.

You can take the boy out of the newsroom, but you cannot take the newsroom out of the boy.