Posted: Nov. 6, 2014
By Celia Cohen
People call this day in Delaware by different names. They call it Return Day. They call it Returns Day. They could also call it 'Turn Day.
Return Day, the proper name, because once upon a time people had to return to the county seat to hear who won the election. Returns Day, because it is about the election returns.
'Turn Day, because a campaign season never ends but another one begins, and this is the day of the pivot. The election is dead, long live the election.
A proliferation of political stickers has become as much a part of the tradition on Thursday, two days after the election here in Georgetown in Sussex County, as the parade with the winning and losing candidates riding together in horse-drawn carriages and the ceremonial burying of a hatchet by the local political leadership.
Some of the stickers are serious. Some are downright mischievous. Nearly all of them are disavowed by the people whose names are on them.
The favorite this year? Probably this one, the origins of which went unacknowledged:
This was a reference, of course, to the Democratic state treasurer who ran himself out of state politics before he could be run out, with plans to relocate to Massachusetts, after a truly spectacular meltdown in his one and only term.
It practically goes without saying that Return Day
came and went without a report of anyone spotting
Neither Kevin Wade, the Republican who lost to Chris Coons, the Democratic senator, nor Rose Izzo, the Republican who lost to John Carney, the Democratic congressman, were there.
Not only is this a no-no in state politics, but it was inexplicably discourteous, considering Wade and Izzo carried Sussex County, Wade by a sizable 7,600 votes and Izzo by a miniscule 77 votes.
Coons and Carney played it safe with their stickers, just the ones from their 2014 campaigns.
It was the governor's race for 2016 that naturally inspired most of the sticker shock.
The best office in the state will be open as Jack Markell, the Democratic governor, bumps up against the two-term constitutional limit and joins Pete du Pont, Mike Castle, Tom Carper and Ruth Ann Minner as Delawareans barred from running, along with convicted felons.
The governor's race actually got going in the spring, when Beau Biden declared he would not run for a third-term as the Democratic attorney general this year but for governor.
There was a "Beau" sticker. There was also Beau, riding in the parade not with the political set but with the National Guard, where his heart is. He looked like someone who is still convalescing, but coming along, all these long months after he went to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas for what a doctor there called a "small lesion."
There was also a whimsical "Biden '16/Schwartzkopf" sticker, pairing Biden with Pete Schwartzkopf, the Democratic speaker. It was roundly disavowed by both of them.
"Return Day is a place where rumors are born," Schwartzkopf said.
The Republicans also got an early start on the governor's race, but without stickers.
Moments after the votes were counted on Election Night, there was already talk about Ken Simpler, who became the first new Republican statewide officeholder in 20 years by winning the race for state treasurer. Never mind he pledged to serve a four-year term.
This was followed by a declaration from Colin Bonini, a Republican state senator, saying he wanted to run for governor. Bonini lost the treasurer's race in 2010, and it seemed like he was not about to let the guy who aced him out for treasurer get ahead of him for governor, too.
There was not a peep from Greg Lavelle, another Republican state senator said to be interested in the governorship.
"I was busy trying to win an election. I didn't have time for stickers," Lavelle said.
Instead, Lavelle managed to make a statement about how silly all of this was by dismembering a "Biden '16/Schwartzkopf" sticker and reassembling it on his jacket with "Schwartzkopf" at the top and "Biden" at the bottom.
"I had people saying they didn't have the nerve to do it, too," Lavelle quipped.
Amid all the stickers, there was one political button. It stood out not just for its classic throwback style, but for its mysterious message. Unknown where it came from:
Better yet, just for a little bit? Let's not.