Posted: Nov. 27, 2013


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

While the Democrats have been gobbling up Delaware's statewide offices, there was one they never managed to get around to.

Whether they were afflicted with flawed candidates or decent ones recruited too late to run effectively, it was enough to keep Tom Wagner as the Republican state auditor for six elections in a row, often just barely.

What Wagner also had going for him was the nature of the office. It was the auditor. It was like getting worked up about beige.

Relying on Democratic defensive indifference is not much of a strategy for getting re-elected, though, and it looks like Wagner will have to try something else in 2014.

Brenda Mayrack, a lawyer who is well-connected within the Democratic Party from her previous work as an operative, is ready to go with a campaign against the last Republican standing statewide.

It goes without saying Mayrack will be a serious threat, because just about anything would be a serious threat against Wagner.

He won his last race in 2010 with just a shade over 50 percent of the vote, and that was against Richard Korn, the New York transplant whose notoriety as a serial Democratic candidate has been eclipsed by more recent tawdriness, like getting charged with dealing in child pornography and suing his own mother.

It is actually the Democrats' own fault that Wagner is in office at all. He lost the 1986 campaign for auditor, but Dennis Greenhouse, the Democrat who won, got himself elected mid-term as the New Castle County executive in 1988, and Wagner was the logical choice to be appointed as the replacement by Mike Castle, then the Republican governor.

Mayrack knows state politics from the inside. She got started after graduating from the University of Delaware, where she arrived in 1996 by way of growing up in Wisconsin and Texas with a burning desire to go east. She worked on John Carney's campaign for lieutenant governor in 2000 and then went to Democratic state headquarters as the executive director for the 2002 election cycle.

Mayrack went west again to get a joint degree in law and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin and then returned here to work at Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell, one of the top Delaware law firms. She left there earlier this year to set up a solo practice focused on auditing with corporate clients that are under review by the state for unclaimed property.

It might have been fated for Mayrack to come to Delaware. She was born on December 7, Delaware Day, and she plans to make her candidacy official by social media next week on her 36th birthday.

"This is an important office with an important job to do, particularly as our state continues to face revenue pressures. Tom Wagner has had over 20 years to do the job, and I think it can be done better," Mayrack said.

"The public trust has been eroded. People want to know what we're doing about state credit card use, and they want to know the first time there's an issue, it's stopped right there."

Wagner expects to remind the voters he is all that remains against a Democratic monopoly.

"It's wonderful they have a Democratic operative to be the watchdog of the party in charge. They have no other office to go after but mine. The only thing separating the state from being one-party controlled is the auditor's office," Wagner said.

What better way is there than an election to have candidates for auditor show off their skills? Before they can count the money, they have to count the votes.