Posted: Nov. 14, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The boomlet for Michele M. Rollins for the U.S. Senate is over. Rollins, one of the best-known business executives in Delaware, has told the Republican Party she has decided against challenging U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, a Democrat up for election next year. 

State Republican Chairman Terry A. Strine said Rollins notified him about her decision, and he held a conference call Monday with party leaders to let them know, as well.

“It’s a shame, because she would have been a wonderful candidate. Her business interests got in the way,” said Phyllis M. Byrne, the Republican state vice chair.

Rollins oversees Dover Downs and Rose Hall, a luxury vacation resort in Jamaica. Since September she has been considering the Senate race, discussing it with Republican officials in Delaware and Washington, conducting a poll and gauging whether she could get her business affairs in order so she could run. 

William Swain Lee, the Sussex County Republican chair, said Rollins hit a roadblock with Rose Hall. “She’d spent a week in Jamaica, trying to make sure the project directors there could take over the business for a year, and she never felt comfortable about that,” he said. 

Rollins could not be reached Monday for comment. 

She is the second candidate to be recruited seriously by the party and to turn it down, following the Rev. Christopher A. Bullock, the pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in Wilmington. 

For now, it leaves the Republicans looking for a candidate who would not give a free ride to Carper, a formidable campaigner who holds the Delaware record for statewide victories with 11, a streak that began in 1976 with three terms as state treasurer, five terms as U.S. representative, two terms as governor and one as senator. 

Instead, the party currently is left with Michael A. Protack, an airline pilot who has become a perennial political dabbler with unfulfilled interests in various high offices, including the U.S. Senate, governor and state party chairman. This is his second foray for a Senate seat. 

“I’m sure there are a number of people who will be considered for the Senate,” Lee said. “Michele was just someone who seemed to pre-empt other people.”