Posted: Feb. 2, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Watch out for politicians who get married. Watch out for politicians who lose weight. They can have more on their mind than matrimony or their body mass index.

State Sen. Colin R.J. Bonini already had the wedding in 2001, but he still has plenty to gain by losing weight.

Bonini, a Dover Republican facing his 40th birthday in April, has a physique that is, say, ample, if not quite William Howard Taft. Bonini all but pulls out a knife and fork when someone says there is a bill on the table.

Legislative pork? Bonini is a conservative, so of course he would not vote for it, but if it could be served with a little barbecue sauce and some mashed potatoes, that would be nice.

Bonini has decided to go on a diet, but not just any diet. This diet comes with a press release, press conference and a fund-raiser, although the contributions go to charity and not to him. Who does he think he is, Oprah Winfrey?

Bonini has been gaining weight steadily since he was elected to the state Senate as a strippling in 1994. When he looks in the mirror, he sees not just a buff bod ready to burst out of a pudgy politician but perhaps a United States senator ready to burst out of Dover.

Bonini toyed in 1996 with running against U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., now a six-term Democrat. These days Bonini is having thoughts about actually making a race 10 years later against  U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, a Democrat whose first term is up in 2006.

As any good candidate knows, even if the mind and spirit are willing, they are not enough. Something has to be done about the flesh.

"A certain Kent County Republican chairman, namely John Sigler, told me, if you ever want to run statewide, you have to lose 100 pounds," Bonini said.

Bonini has not committed to running.  He says people have talked to him about it, although he is not saying who they are. Perhaps Sara Lee? Mrs. Butterworth?

"I'm flattered, but no decision has been made," Bonini said. "I haven't had a chance to go to Washington to talk to anybody about it."

If Bonini runs, what does he have to lose? Quite a bit, apparently. He pledged to drop weight at a press conference Tuesday at the Kent County SPCA in Camden, asking people to donate to the shelter for whatever he takes off, pounds for the animal pound.

It is a charity dear to Bonini. He has three SPCA dogs and a fourth that was a stray.

Bonini plans to work on his weight from Feb. 1 until the legislative session ends June 30. He signed up for the "Lieutenant Governor's Challenge," a physical activity program sponsored by Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr.

Carney, a Democrat, was there to cheer Bonini on and to make the first pledge of a dollar a pound for the SPCA. Carney, however, said he did not know about Bonini's political aspirations against Carper, a former governor for whom Carney worked as finance secretary.

Never mind. No matter how much weight Bonini loses, Carney is sure Bonini already has lost something -- like his mind. With 11 consecutive elections, Carper has more statewide wins than anyone in Delaware history.

"I thought Colin Bonini was smarter than that," Carney said.