Posted: Feb. 8, 2010


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

All anybody needs to know about the fortunes of the political parties is the Republicans went to Hawaii last month for their winter meeting, but the Democrats?

They were in Washington, D.C., for the weekend. "D.C." would be "Dire Conditions."

"All I got to complain about was the tough flight," quipped Tom Ross, the Republican state chair who flew out to Honolulu for the Republican National Committee's sunny session.

The Democrats, who have had their political woes of late, got pounded again. They ran into the biggest snow job since a couple of fast-talking tailors sold the emperor a new suit of clothes.

Washington was stopped cold. Even Mother Nature filibusters here.

The Democratic National Committee met Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Capital Hilton. A contingent from Delaware had plans to attend, among them Gov. Jack Markell, Democratic State Chair John Daniello and Speaker Bob Gilligan, who is the Democratic national committeeman.

Gilligan never got there.

"I could have gotten down, but I couldn't get back," he said.

The hotel staff was understanding when Gilligan called to cancel his reservation -- "No problem, you're the 51st person," he was told.

No wonder. For every Democrat who did not arrive, there were plenty of others who could not leave. They needed rooms until the planes and trains were moving again.

Daniello arrived in Washington on Thursday, checked out the weather report on Friday and hustled to Union Station to change his train ticket and get out of there.

"I got home about an hour before the storm started here," he said.

The governor's travel was complicated by back-to-back trips. Not only was Markell speaking Friday at the Democratic gathering as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association, he was taking off Saturday for a foreign excursion on economic development.

In a quick turnaround, Markell took the train to D.C. and back in time to be here for the snowstorm. His security had him at the Philadelphia airport Saturday evening for a flight overseas, where he had stops in Germany and England to meet with Delaware employers like AstraZeneca and Barclays.

Markell also was trying to recruit new employers. This is called "rainmaking." Better "rainmaking" than "snowmaking," which is expected from another mid-week storm before the governor arrives back in Delaware this coming Friday.

He is supposed to be able to handle both.

"He's been regular contact with his staff and emergency management. This is the best part of the wireless world," said Brian Selander, the governor's chief strategy officer.

The snow scrambled the political schedule at home, too. Mike Castle, the Republican congressman, tried to cancel an event he was hosting Friday evening for his Senate campaign, but it was a happy hour, and what better place to be in a storm?

People showed up, anyway, at the Dead Presidents pub in Wilmington. Castle included.

"I walked in and was surprised at how many people I saw. Fifty, maybe more," said Ross, the Republican state chair.

Now another whopping snowstorm is being predicted. After digging out from the last one, Gilligan told his family what he wants for his birthday, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Halloween, whatever.

"A snow blower," he said.

Gilligan tried to buy one himself, but he could not find a store with any snow blowers left.

"Anybody who knows anybody in Delaware who's selling them, please let me know. Your bill will be first on the agenda," he said.

Gilligan was joking about the agenda. Not about the snow blower.