Posted: May 28, 2013


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

When an officeholder sends out a blast e-mail with a subject line that says, "May Campaign Update," he ought to be able to answer a simple question.

What is he campaigning for?

This did not turn out to be a simple question for Matt Denn, the Democratic lieutenant governor who is the author of the e-mail.

There were no clues in the e-mail itself, which arrived just before the Memorial Day weekend. It was his first update of the year, chock full of highlights about his second term and his family, much of it having to do with the adventures of the Denn boys, eight-year-old twins Adam and Zach, but none of it exactly constituted a "campaign update."

Nor was there much in the way of clues from the lieutenant governor.

"I just want to keep people up to date. I do think it's important to let people see that you're doing what you said you're going to do," Denn feinted.

"I guess we should call it something else."

Not that it is black ops that Denn is in the mix for governor at this early stage, along with Beau Biden, the Democratic attorney general, and perhaps Greg Lavelle, the state Senate's Republican minority whip, when Jack Markell reaches his two-term limit as the Democratic governor in 2016.

What can be virtually ruled out for Denn is another term as lieutenant governor, mostly because the state constitution appears to deny it. The constitution clearly prohibits a governor from running for a third term ever again, but it says more cryptically a lieutenant governor "shall possess the same qualifications of eligibility for office as the governor."

Nobody has ever tried to run for a third term for lieutenant governor, so it has never been tested, nor is it likely to be. Why would anybody want to go through the bother and expense of a constitutional challenge just to be the lieutenant governor?

Maybe what is called for is one of those wretchedly intrusive political spots nagging, call the lieutenant governor and ask him what he is doing.

"I'll decide when I have to, which is a long time from now," Denn said.

Whatever Denn eventually decides to campaign for, he is actually doing quite a lot in the meantime.

More than any other lieutenant governor for at least 20 years, he is engaged in serious legislating.

Among his current projects, Denn is working with a task force he chaired to enact legislation that would rein in the costs of workers compensation insurance, a carryover from his days as the insurance commissioner, and he also is involved in trying to pass an initiative to improve the educational program for academically advanced students.

Outside of Legislative Hall, Denn is in the planning stages with Elena Delle Donne, the homegrown basketball star, and her brother and father for a foundation to help special needs kids. Naturally enough, it is inspired in part by Lizzie Delle Donne, well-known as Elena's sister who has autism and cerebral palsy.

So call the lieutenant governor. Ask him what he is doing. Inquiring political minds want to know.