Posted: May 4, 2015


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

There was really not much suspense over who would go down at the Gridiron this year.

Corporate Enemy #1.

After all, this is Delaware, the place Joe Biden once called the "Duchy of du Pont."

Nelson Peltz was in trouble. This was a "White Card" crowd, this assemblage of 450 or so people at the First State Gridiron Dinner & Show, the annual political roast, held Saturday evening at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington.

There, at one point on a big screen as the backdrop while the Gridiron Players performed, was a colossus-size photo of Ellen Kullman, the CEO of DuPont, with a caption reading, "Team Ellen."

There, sitting at a table in the front, was the captain herself.

Kullman came, even with just 10 days to go before the proxy showdown on May 13 between the "white card" from DuPont and the "gold card" from Peltz, the corporate interloper from the Trian Management hedge fund. This is doubling down on Delaware.

In return, Gridiron doubled down on DuPont. The sponsors typically get zinged when they are acknowledged by voiceover, but this is the way it went for the company:

"DuPont -- the Gridiron is looking forward to another 200 years of progress from DuPont, and no one, including Nelson and his team, can erase the iconic company and its leaders from the state's history and from our lives . . . and there's nothing funny intended about that."

In an off-year for politics, DuPont stole the Gridiron show. There was praise, and there was also lamentation for the way the company has had to cull itself.

What more could anyone ask of a place that even shrunk its name from Du Pont to DuPont?

So the Gridiron Players sang and danced to the tune of "High Hopes"

Once there was a chemical plant

Then this Nelson Peltz had a rant

Everyone knows a plant can't

Stop a Nelson Peltz rant


But we had high hopes

We had high hopes

We had high-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes


But then the comp'ny named Nemours

Poof -- became Chemours

Seems he'd got what he want

Oops, there goes another piece of DuPont . . .


Trian wants to sell our hotel

Golf and tennis going as well

If this is the way they do things

We'd rather send them to hell . . .


You can guess we're not a fan

Of his fund Trian

We're not fond of their plan

Oops, we've had it up to here with Trian

Naturally there was still plenty of room for politics in the show.

John Carney, who spent eight years as the Democratic lieutenant governor inquiring about the governor's health and now waits for word about Beau's, inspired a song to the tune of -- what else? -- "Hey, Look Me Over":

Hey, look me over, I could be great

I'll live in Dover, if you need a candidate

I've been real busy as your congressman

But I always wanted to be your guv, that was my first plan

Chris Coons, the Democratic senator who has largely been spared from the Gridiron hot seat, found himself parodied for largely being spared from the Gridiron hot seat. It was a takeoff of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain":

You're so plain

We wish there was some scandal about you

You're so plain

We wish there was a reason to doubt you

Doubt you, doubt you, doubt you

The mayor. Dennis Williams. Two lines.

Every day I'm an invitee

Every day I'm an absentee

The Gridiron finale is always a Delaware twist given to "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," the showstopper from "Evita," by Lynda Maloney, the soul of Gridiron and the former first lady of Wilmington. It had to be about DuPont, and it was:

Don't cry for me, Nelson Peltz

We've tightened all our belts

Please do not forget

Our Ellen's got a set

She's shown the moxie

She's got my proxy


And as for fortune, that is his game

It's clear he cannot see

That DuPont is a Delaware legacy

When the song was sung and the applause begun, Kullman was proudly standing. Maybe an omen?