Posted: May 23, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Mitt Romney, one of the leading Republican presidential candidates, will be traveling to Delaware next week, but his campaign is doing everything but disguising him in a burqa to keep his appearance mostly under wraps. 

Romney’s visit, scheduled for June 1, will be confined to the guarded Chateau Country estate of Michele M. Rollins, and the press is not invited. 

The event itself is divided further into three parts – restricted, more restricted and prohibitively restricted. The gradations are based on dollars spent. This is the Republican Party, after all. 

Romney will begin his evening inside the manor with a fund raiser held by his campaign. Contributors paying $2,300, the maximum under federal campaign finance law, will be admitted to a private reception with an opportunity to be photographed with the candidate. This will be followed by a dinner reception at $1,000 a person.

Afterwards, the state Republican Party will host a rally and barbecue under a tent on the grounds outside. Tickets are a crowd-generating $15 a person or $25 a couple. 

Terry A. Strine, the state Republican chair, thinks as many as 100 people will be inside and upwards of 300 people outside. He is proud of the party’s portion for giving hundreds of Republicans a chance to see a presidential contender in person. 

Still, it seems a strange way to promote a candidacy by barring press coverage of a political rally. Strine blamed Romney’s campaign. 

“It is our event, but he’s the candidate,” Strine said.

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One of the reasons the Democrats are on a roll in this state is that successful campaigns become self-perpetuating. They create a new cadre of political operatives and government payrolls for keeping them around.

Two of those Democratic operatives recently took new assignments.

Erik J. Schramm, who was the campaign manager for Treasurer Jack A. Markell's re-election in 2006, is the new chief aide for the state House Democratic caucus. Schramm has a background in politics and policy, working for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, as well as experience in both statewide and legislative races. He was an obvious hire for a minority caucus looking to become the majority.

Alexander Snyder-Mackler, who was the state Democratic Party's communications director, is now a deputy press secretary for U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. Snyder-Mackler is homegrown, a Newarker since boyhood and a Wilmington Charter School graduate who got his college degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. He arrived at Democratic headquarters last year after working in politics in Washington, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The Republicans, meanwhile, are making the most of what they have. The upside of winning the special legislative election earlier this month in Sussex County was not just keeping the House seat by replacing John C. Atkins with Gregory A. Hastings, but also blooding two political operatives.

Much of the credit went to David M. Burris, the Sussex County Republican chair, and Garrett Wozniak, the state Republican Party's executive director. Both have prior political experience -- Burris ran the Sussex get-out-the-vote operation and Wozniak worked on legislative races in 2006 -- but this was their first win in a state election when the responsibility was theirs.

The Republicans long have regarded this sort of campaign as their specialty. They were blindsided when they lost one three weeks earlier for a state House seat in Brandywine Hundred.

The operatives came through in Sussex County when it really counted. They delivered with the party's pride on the line.