Posted: May 7, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The Delaware Republicans got the word they did not want. Colm Connolly told them on Tuesday he has decided against running for attorney general.

Connolly, the former prosecutor still hailed for his leading role 15 years ago in the murder conviction of Tom Capano, was far and away the party's first choice.

It leaves Matt Denn, the Democratic lieutenant governor, as the only candidate to file since Beau Biden abruptly exited, announcing last month he would pass on running for a third term as the Democratic attorney general in 2014 in favor of a campaign for governor in 2016.

The Republicans lost more than a candidate. They were denied someone with the cachet and credentials they could have used to construct the top of their ticket around, even at this late date.

With only two months to go until the candidates' filing deadline in July, the Republicans still have nobody against Chris Coons, the first-term Democratic senator, or John Carney, the second-term Democratic congressman.

This is what happens in a state where there are 124,000 more Democratic than Republican voters.

"Colm would obviously have been an outstanding candidate, and I'm sure the Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief," said Mike Castle, the Republican ex-governor and ex-congressman who was a key member in the effort to encourage Connolly to run.

"It's back to the drawing board and go from there. That should be a very competitive race."

Connolly, now the managing partner in the Wilmington office of Morgan Lewis, an international firm founded in Philadelphia, said it was family considerations that kept him out of the race. He and his wife have three sons and a daughter, one college age and three nearly so.

"Ultimately it was a family call. It was a very, very difficult decision. At the end of the day, there's nothing more important to me than family. This particular time is not the right time," he said.

"This is not a decision that would preclude me from being active in ways other than as a candidate."

The Republicans said they respected Connolly's decision.

"Seeking public office is never something that should be taken lightly. Unfortunately, Delaware is often faced with candidates more motivated by being elected than the office they look to serve," said John Fluharty, the Republicans' executive director.

"We are encouraged by the fact that [Connolly] and his wife went through the process with prudence and grace. As a result, I am looking forward to a Colm Connolly candidacy in the future."

For now, Denn is continuing to live the good life of the unopposed.

"I'm going to keep talking about why I would be a good attorney general. I don't have much control over who else decides to run," Denn said.

It was one thing when the Republicans did not have anyone to take on Beau Biden. His father is the vice president. But now? It has to sting.