Posted: March 20, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Both sides are so ready for the special election to replace Wayne A. Smith, the former House Republican majority leader who resigned his Brandywine Hundred seat to run a health care trade association.

The Republicans brought James T. Bowers, their candidate, to Legislative Hall in Dover to show him off Tuesday and maybe try to promote an air of inevitability about him.

When state Rep. Gregory F. Lavelle, a Republican from a neighboring Brandywine Hundred district, introduced Bowers to the House of Representatives, however, the Democrats were quick with a retort for a little one-upmanship of their own.

"Our guy's knocking on doors while he's sitting here," sniped state Rep. Helene M. Keeley, the Democratic minority leader.

Bowers was present, appropriately enough, on the day that Republican Speaker Terry R. Spence announced the date of the special election, as it is his responsibility to do under state law.

Spence set the election for Saturday, April 14. Bowers, a Verizon sales manager, is running against Democrat Bryon H. Short, who works in small-scale neighborhood redevelopment, fixing up blighted properties in Wilmington, and used to be an aide to U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper when he was a congressman and governor.

The Republicans, who have a 500-vote registration advantage in a district that they have carried for decades, have the edge going into the election, but it is not out of reach for the Democrats, who have been making inroads in the four Brandywine Hundred districts and picked up an open seat there in 2004.

The outcome will not affect control of the 41-member House, where the Republicans held a 23-18 majority before Smith resigned.

Spence said it was not easy to settle on a date for the election, as he tried to avoid conflicts with Easter, Passover and other religious observances. Nor did he want to bump up against a Brandywine School District referendum on April 24.

April 14 takes care of nearly everything . . . except for the voters still working on those income tax returns.