Posted: March 12, 2008


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Bill Lee loves politics. He loves basketball. With March Madness coming on, he made his choice.

Lee, the retired judge who ran for governor in the Republican primary in 2000 and as the party nominee in 2004, will not try again in 2008.

Lee never expected to entertain thoughts of another gubernatorial race, but he found himself being treated as a likely substitute when Alan Levin, the business executive of Happy Harry's heritage, jilted the Republicans in January by walking away from the candidacy he was assembling.

"I feel pretty relieved. I did not want to do it," Lee said.

His decision was transmitted Wednesday to top Republicans by a blast e-mail, in which he explained that the party had given him no confidence it could come up with $1 million or $2 million for a campaign against either Lt. Gov. John Carney or Treasurer Jack Markell, the two Democrats who have shown they can raise that sort of money in their rivalry for the governorship.

"Good intentions aside, I clearly have not generated the enthusiasm necessary to propel this campaign successfully, and it's time for me to get out of the way," Lee wrote.

Lee's demurral leaves the Republicans with the embarrassing situation of having no credible candidate for governor.

Lee, who lives in Rehoboth Beach, expects to return his attention to Beebe Medical Center, the Lewes hospital where is the vice chair of the board, to Bifferato Gentilotti, the law firm where he does some work to referee disputes before they wind up in court, and to basketball tournaments, where he cheers on Duke University, his alma mater.

"A little mediation, a lot of basketball, and it's almost beach season," Lee said.

# # #

In one weekend a year ago, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper played in a charity volleyball match, ran a half marathon and broke his foot.

His activity list was a little shorter this year. He did the volleyball and the race but not the foot.

Carper played Saturday along with his fellow Democrats -- who lost to the Republicans -- in the Easter Seals volleyball tournament, and then he ran Sunday in the 13.1-mile Caesar Rodney Half Marathon around Wilmington.

Carper, apparently in denial about being 61, never expected to do otherwise, although he did have the sense to have a doctor check out his foot beforehand.

Other politicians, who know all about Carper's determination and competitiveness, were not caught off guard. It could be seen at the volleyball match in the example of Matt Denn, the Democratic insurance commissioner who is running for lieutenant governor, and his sons Adam and Zach, three-year-old twins.

As Denn wrote later on his campaign blog, the boys were outfitted with appropriate toys for the occasion -- "medical kits they had brought along (in case Senator Carper broke another bone.)"

# # #

Give Eliot Spitzer credit. He was upholding a New York tradition. 

It was established in the early days of the Republic by Alexander Hamilton, another New Yorker who was appointed to be the treasury secretary by the nation’s first president. 

Hamilton was called to service by Washington. Spitzer was serviced by a call girl in Washington.

When Hamilton was in the Cabinet, his political enemies found out about some funny money transactions and accused him of public corruption. He indignantly defended himself by explaining he was not involved in financial improprieties but a sex scandal. He was being blackmailed by a couple for having an affair with the wife. 

In Spitzer’s case, suspicious law enforcement authorities also followed the money until what they thought was avarice turned out to be vice. They did not uncover blackmail, but they did find e-mail.

Hamilton lives on as the face of the ten dollar bill. It is a stretch to think Spitzer can save face. 

What is it with the name of this prostitution ring, anyway? The Emperors Club. As in “The Emperor Has No Clothes”? 

Once again, the difference between New York and Delaware is on display. The nearest thing to a personal scandal here was a state representative who had to resign because of a night of fussing and drinking with his own wife.