Posted: Nov. 17, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Where to begin? There were so many stupid political tricks throughout the 2014 election season, it was the riches of embarrassment.

That being said, the top of the list has to be the mirror image, namely . . .

The embarrassment of riches

Chris Coons collected more than $4 million in campaign contributions during the past two years and got himself re-elected as the Democratic senator with 56 percent of the vote. Tom Wagner did not even take in $40,000 over the same time and won another term as the Republican auditor with 54 percent of the vote.

One guy has a financial orgy and the other guy all but practices financial celibacy, and the difference is 2 percent of the vote? As Wagner quipped afterwards, "Four years from now, I'm going to grow my hair long and raise no money."

Ballot jumpers

This election brought out a new bunch of people with the same old bright idea they could take out a confirmed candidate by jumping on the ballot right at the deadline. These ambush filers all figured a surprise primary was the way to win, but guess what?

All of them -- most notably Sher Valenzuela against Ken Simpler in a Republican primary for state treasurer, but also Dave Tackett against Bryan Townsend, a Democratic state senator, Bill Dunn against Kim Williams, a Democratic state representative, and Michael Smith against Joe Miro, a Republican state representative -- lost.

Moral to the story, it is not nice to fool the voters.

Wayne Smith & Diana McWilliams Memorial Award

Wayne Smith was the Republican majority leader in the state House of Representatives when he quit mid-term in 2007 to become a lobbyist. Similarly, the votes had hardly been certified for Diana McWilliams' re-election as a Democratic state representative in 2008 when she announced she was moving out of Delaware and resigning her seat.

In the special elections to replace them, the jilted voters got even by installing a new state representative from the other party.

It should have been a lesson learned, but it eluded Becky Walker, a Democratic state representative. She tried to pull a fast one by waiting until after the filing deadline to get off the ballot and maneuver the party into substituting the candidate of her choice. The voters did what voters do. They balked and elected Kevin Hensley, the Republican who was running.

So make it the Wayne Smith & Diana McWilliams & Becky Walker Memorial Award, something no legislator should strive for.

Caught on tape

Bethany Hall-Long, a Democratic state senator, was riding high, arguably in the mix for lieutenant governor in 2016, at least in her own mind, until her husband bumbled into a Republican stakeout, complete with video camera, set up to catch whoever was filching political signs.

Hall-Long barely had enough good will in reserve to get re-elected with 51 percent of the vote.

As one political insider waggishly put it, "Memo to self, if you're going to take signs, go up to Philadelphia and get a couple guys there to do it."

Say it ain't so, Son of Joe

Hunter Biden was not a candidate anywhere, but he blundered into the campaign season when the Wall Street Journal reported in October he was drummed out of the Navy Reserve for failing a drug test. Call it the Cocaine Mutiny.


Not a good year for Middletown. Home of Chip Flowers. Home of Bethany Hall-Long.