Posted: May 14, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

If a candidate has to have a primary, it might as well be like the one Brenda Mayrack is running in.

Like the man met upon the stair, it is the primary that is not there.

Mayrack is a Democratic candidate for state auditor. So is Ken Matlusky, but he is getting the sort of polite reception in party circles that falls under the category, it is a free country, anyone can run.

As evidence, all it took was a look around the fund-raiser held Monday for Mayrack at a home in Wilmington. When primaries are for real, the major political players almost always make themselves scarce to avoid taking sides. Not in this case.

The special guest for the event was John Carney, the Democratic congressman. Jack Markell, the Democratic governor, stopped in. Lisa Goodman, the Democratic state vice-chair, was there as Mayrack's finance chair.

Even Dennis Greenhouse, the last Democratic auditor, came by. He was elected to two terms in 1982 and 1986, only to leave mid-term when he was elected the New Castle County executive.

Greenhouse was replaced by Tom Wagner, a Republican who has been the auditor ever since then. These days Wagner is also the only Republican left in statewide office, which helps to explain the high-powered Democratic interest in Mayrack's campaign.

Carney did the introduction for Mayrack before a crowd of about 40 people, only fitting because Carney was Mayrack's introduction to Delaware politics.

Mayrack was a new graduate from the University of Delaware in 2000, when most of her contemporaries were flocking to Tom Carper, then the Democratic governor on his way to becoming senator, and Carney was running for his first statewide office for lieutenant governor. He asked Mayrack to be his campaign manager.

"I told her, you can go with all the other volunteers for Carper, or you can come with me and be the boss!" Carney said.

Mayrack did. She went from there to be the state Democrats' executive director and then a lawyer with a practice in audit defense.

Even with the Democratic focus on Wagner, the theme of the event was the primary.

"Most of you know, I do have a primary," Mayrack said.

"Been there, done that," Carney quipped.

That would be a reference to the most famous Democratic primary of the century, when Carney lost to Markell for governor in 2008. As momentous as it was, it falls short of being the century's most famous primary for either party, a distinction that belongs to the shocker in 2010, between Mike Castle and Christine O'Donnell for senator, which shall live in Republican infamy.

Mayrack is holding a flurry of fund-raisers, not only here in Delaware but also in Texas, where she grew up, and Washington. Furthermore, if she wins the party's nomination as expected, under state law she can go back to the people who gave her the maximum contribution of $1,200 for the primary election and ask them to max out again for the general election.

That is the best thing about having a primary that is not there.

# # #

A man can be more than the sum of his parts. Bill Wood was.

Wood, who was 72 when he died of cancer on May 2, was remembered by his old comrades-in-arms at The Byrd Group as a Republican, a Tower Hill trustee and alumnus and a University of Michigan law school graduate.

These were the things he wore like badges as he made his rounds as one of regulars at Legislative Hall in Dover, where he was a business lobbyist, first for the DuPont Co., then in his own firm or with Bob Byrd as a Republican-Democratic duo in Wood Byrd & Associates.

Wood was good at what he did, and there was a reason. It lay at the core of him, as recalled by Bonny Anderson, a lobbyist who is a consultant for non-profits. She met Wood when she was in economic development in the du Pont administration, a Democrat working for Pete du Pont, that most Republican of governors from 1977 to 1985.

"Bill worked for what I would call the common good. He represented his clients, certainly, but he also understood the bigger picture of what works for Delaware," Anderson said.

"He just got it."