Posted: Nov. 8, 2010
POLITICS GONE WILD
By Celia Cohen
Monty Python could not have made up Delaware's election season. Neither could Mark Twain. The same goes for Lewis Carroll, and he came up with a White Rabbit consulting a pocket watch.
Mike Castle losing? Beau Biden running unopposed? Christine O'Donnell feeding a national mania on witchcraft, masturbation and mice with human brains?
In get-along-to-go-along Delaware? There has not been a political ride this revolutionary since Caesar Rodney left for Philadelphia.
AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REPEAT. There was always a deep dark suspicion that Delaware peaked the day it became the first state to ratify the Constitution. Then along came the 2008 presidential election.
No more Dela-where? The state was home to a vice president.
It was transformational. Because of Joe Biden, the nation spent an election season paying attention to Delaware, the 49th state in size. This kind of mega-moment could only happen every couple of centuries, right?
Actually, it turned out to be more like every couple of years. Christine O'Donnell can have that effect.
Elections repeat themselves, the first time as history, the second time as farce.
NANCY WAGNER MEMORIAL AWARD. Politicians have a saying, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Nancy Wagner forgot about it.
Wagner was a Republican state representative from Dover. She got herself a nice newly-created job as an administrator at Delaware State University, but not until just after the 2006 election, and followed it with a nifty budget maneuver that kept her husband on the state payroll, too.
It was an "oink" that went down in infamy. By 2008, Wagner was an ex-representative.
The example she set lives on. The envelope for the 2010 Nancy Wagner Memorial Award, please.
Runner-up: Velda Jones-Potter was on a dream path. She was handed the state treasurer's job when Jack Markell appointed her to replace himself after he was elected the Democratic governor in 2008, and the Democratic Party endorsed her to win a term in her own right this year.
Then she was discovered to be holding onto a consulting job with the city of Wilmington, where her husband is a councilman. She never even got through the primary.
Winner: Joe Booth, a Republican state senator from Georgetown, ran as a conservative who wanted to get government out of people's pocketbooks. It turned out he did not mind if it contributed to his own.
Only after Booth won his primary did it become known that he was going on the public payroll himself with an administrative job at Sussex Tech. His wife also works there. Voters were stunned but impotent. Once the primary was over, Booth was barreling unopposed to re-election.
With the new job, Booth intends to leave behind his old dry cleaning business, but the voters could have different plans when his term is up in 2012. Never mind their clothes. They could take Booth to the cleaners, instead.
HERE A DEMOCRAT, THERE A DEMOCRAT. In a mid-term election costly to the Democrats around the country, the statewide electorate here did all but post a sign, Republicans need not apply.
No Republican did apply for attorney general against Beau Biden, the vice president's son who was running for a second term, and it was just as well. The voters were on their way to kicking the Republicans out of every statewide office except auditor.
They probably could not have done it without complicit Republicans, who took care of Mike Castle for them in the Senate primary.
It gave the state its first all-Democratic congressional delegation in 70 years. The last election that left Delaware with two Democratic senators and a Democratic congressman was the one in 1940, when Franklin Roosevelt was at his height. Back then, the arrangement lasted only two years. This time it is likely to be a little longer.
The voters also added two seats to the Democratic majority in the state House of Representatives. A count by the National Conference of State Legislatures found it was only one of a half-dozen chambers around the country to pick up Democratic seats, while the Republicans were otherwise surging to more than 700 new seats nationwide.
It was fine with Bob Gilligan, the Democrat speaker. "I'm going to Disney!" he said.
He did, too, and took the grandchildren, even if it did seem redundant to go to Fantasyland after a campaign season inhabited by birthers, tea partiers, double-dippers and a lapsed witch.