Posted: Nov. 18, 2005


Attorney general for hire 

With M. Jane Brady departing for a judgeship, Charles M. Oberly III quietly has retained the record as the longest-serving attorney general in Delaware.

Oberly, a Democrat, was the first to win three terms as the state's chief law enforcement official, elected in 1982, 1986 and 1990. Brady, a Republican who succeeded him, tied Oberly in victories with races in 1994, 1998 and 2002, but she is leaving for the Superior Court bench next month.

That gives Oberly the title with 12 years in office to Brady's 11 -- and no chance of there even being another three-term attorney general until the 2014 election.

"At least I'm safe to 72," quipped Oberly, who turned 59 last week on Nov. 9. "I might even live out my lifetime."

If asked, Oberly would not mind padding his lead. He says he would be willing to finish out the year left in Brady's term if Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, a fellow Democrat, wanted to appoint him, now that it is clear that Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III will run for the office on the 2006 Democratic ticket but not take it by appointment.

"Nobody's asked me yet. The governor will make her choice. I certainly would be receptive," Oberly said. "I'm just concerned about the office being placed in a caretaker position where nothing happens."

Oberly, who ended his political career with an unsuccessful run against Republican Sen. William V. Roth Jr. in 1994, has been practicing law in the Wilmington firm of Oberly Jennings & Rhodunda. He said a return to attorney general, which pays $136,600 a year, would cost him financially -- "but you can do anything for a year."

Oberly emphasized it would be a year and out for him, if it was to happen. "I can tell you categorically I will not run. I'm going to be very supportive of Beau," he said.

Brady plans to take her judicial oath Dec. 7 on Delaware Day. There are such demands on the attorney general's job that Minner intends to have a replacement ready to go, according to Kate Bailey, the governor's communications director.

"Pretty immediately the position needs to be filled. The governor may announce the appointee prior to Jane being sworn in," Bailey said.

If the choice turns out to be Oberly, then his record would be safe at least until he turns 73.

A candidate for Congress?

State Rep. Teresa L. Schooley thought she simply was holding a modest fund-raiser at a friend's home in Newark on Sunday for her re-election campaign next year.

The event for Terry Schooley, a first-term Democrat, also may have doubled as a debut for a candidate willing to take on the unenviable task of running on the 2006 Democratic ticket against U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, the Republican ex-governor who already has served seven congressional terms, more than any other Delawarean.

Dennis Spivack, a lawyer who lives in Brandywine Hundred, spent his Sunday showing up wherever other Democrats were showing up to see whether they might be interested in having a 58-year-old native Delawarean -- Highlands Elementary, Warner Junior High, P.S. du Pont High School -- as their candidate for the state's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I'm merely exploring the possibility of running for Congress. I'm just trying to find out if I would be a viable candidate," Spivack said.

His appearance startled the event-goers, but they were happy to have him. "He was very personable and probably will make an excellent candidate. He was having a good time and talking to everybody," Schooley said.

Spivack was active in Democratic politics in the 1970s and 1980s but not recently. He may have to introduce himself to Democrats who have come along since then, but he will not have to introduce himself to Castle.

Spivack used to work for him. His early days as a lawyer included time at the Wilmington firm of Schnee & Castle.