Posted: Nov. 2, 2005


Rollins is for real

The mystery is gone, but the decision-making remains. Michele M. Rollins says she is exploring the possibility of heading the Republican ticket next year by running against U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the Democrat who will be up for a second term.

"I'm definitely still considering it," Rollins said Wednesday in a brief telephone interview, her first public comment since her name surfaced in late September in Republican circles as a potential candidate.

The talk about Rollins began with hints fitting her description from Terry A. Strine, the Republican state chairman, and escalated when U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle all but gave it away last month when he told a crowd at a fund raiser about someone "whose initials are M.R. who might be thinking about running for higher office."

Rollins met Tuesday evening with party leaders to discuss her possible transformation from a deep-pocketed party backer to standard bearer. Rollins is the business executive behind Dover Downs and a Jamaican luxury resort, projects developed with her late husband John W. Rollins Sr., who died in 2000.

Nothing was settled. The Republicans are not underestimating the degree of difficulty of a race against Carper, who holds the Delaware record for statewide victories with contests dating back to 1976 for treasurer, congressman, governor and now senator, a post he won by unseating five-term Republican William V. Roth Jr.

All the Republicans have from Rollins at this point is a commitment to decide to decide.

This could be it for Fallon

State Rep. Evelyn K. "Tina" Fallon is expected to be the first -- and perhaps the only -- legislator to announce she will retire when her term expires next year, closing out a tenure that began in 1978 for the Seaford Republican.

"I'm not ready to announce it, but I am thinking about it," Fallon said. "I'm 88, and I want a few mornings to get up and decide what I want to do."

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are anticipating Fallon's exit with candidates waiting in the wings. The Republicans have all but settled on Daniel B. Short, the Seaford mayor who ran in 2004 against state Sen. Robert L. Venables Sr., a Laurel Democrat, and polled 40 percent of the vote. Democrat Thomas J. Chapman, who lost to Fallon last time with 42 percent of the vote, is ready to go again.

The district registration modestly tilts Republican, but Sussex County has become such a Republican stronghold that the party has to be favored to keep the seat in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans 25-15 with one independent.

As much as Fallon appears ready to retire, it is something that Sussex County Republican Chairman William Swain Lee, the ex-judge who ran for governor, is not quite relying on.

"She's talked about it for years. I'll believe Tina is stepping down when Tina says it," Lee said. "I think she'll die at her desk."

Judging the judges

Four new judges are on their way to joining the federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, once they get past a 30-day period for public comment on their tentative appointments.

The judges-to-be are: Kevin J. Carey, currently a bankruptcy judge based in Philadelphia; Kevin Gross, a lawyer with Rosenthal Monhait Gross & Goddess; Brendan L. Shannon, a lawyer with Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor; and Christopher S. Sontchi, a lawyer with Ashby & Geddes.

The selection was announced Wednesday by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which is responsible for appointing bankruptcy judges here. The four were said to be taken from a list of five finalists out of a pool of about 50 applicants. The fifth on the list was said to be Andrea L. Rocanelli, the chief disciplinary counsel for the Delaware Supreme Court and the only one without a current bankruptcy practice.

Bankruptcy judges serve 14-year terms at a salary of $149,132 a year. The new judges are regarded as relief that is long overdue for the Wilmington-based court, a premier forum for complex corporate bankruptcy mega-filings. The court is so busy that its two sitting judges have had to import seven visiting judges from around the country to handle the caseload.

Across the aisle but all in the family

Nearly six months after stepping down as the Democratic state chair, Richard H. Bayard is planning to work with both sides of the aisle in Legislative Hall as a lobbyist.

Bayard is teaming up with W. Laird Stabler III, a fellow Wilmington lawyer who founded the government relations firm of Laird Stabler & Associates in 2000.

Stabler is as Republican as Bayard is Democratic. Stabler was the legal counsel to Mike Castle when he was the governor, and his father is W. Laird Stabler Jr., a past Republican national committeeman, U.S. attorney and attorney general. Bayard's father was a Democratic lieutenant governor, and he comes from a long line of Bayards who were Democratic senators, although there was one Federalist congressman who snuck in.

While a press release announcing the new partnership made much of this spanning of the political divide, declaring, "Two of Delaware's best-known names from opposite political parties are now joined," the truth is that Bayard and Stabler have more in common than not.

They are related, both du Pont family members descended from Eleuthere Irenee du Pont, the company founder, Bayard through his grandmother and Stabler through his mother.

Stabler's father and Bayard have been members of the same duck hunting club for years. In Legislative Hall, the bonds made by duck hunting count as much, if not more, than any political affiliation.