Posted: June 14, 2006


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Jan C. Ting, the stepchild of the Delaware Republicans, declared his candidacy Wednesday for the U.S. Senate in a lone Kent County stop on the Legislative Hall steps in Dover.

His party mustered only a slim crowd of about 60 people, padded with legislative staffers, and dispensed with the traditional three-county tour that also would have taken him south to Sussex County and north to New Castle County in his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the first-term Democrat and former governor.

Neither U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle nor state Auditor R. Thomas Wagner Jr., the only two Republican statewide officeholders who are also Ting's ticket mates, fit the event into their schedules, leaving state Senate Minority Leader John C. Still III as the highest-ranking official there. Not even state House Speaker Terry R. Spence came by.

It was Announcement Lite. Ting insisted it was by design -- "we're trying to be an untraditional campaign" -- and did what he could with it, officially launching his candidacy on Flag Day and handing out U.S. Flags that could be waved vigorously, although perhaps not vigorously enough to attract his party's attention.

The Republicans once considered Ting to be a prize candidate, a Temple University law professor with a national reputation as an authority on immigration, but then they had their heads turned by Ferris W. Wharton, the ex-prosecutor smooth enough to dismiss Democrat Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III in the attorney general's race as a "nice young man."

Republicans swooned. They had a champion to stand up to the Biden evil empire, Darth Vader father and son, and Ting has been an afterthought since. Even on his announcement day, the staff at Republican state headquarters was busy pumping a videotape for Wharton's campaign.

Ting's second-fiddle status obscures the rare offering he brings to this campaign season by providing a serious choice for the voters on a major issue, in this case immigration.

The son of Chinese immigrants who came to the country legally, Ting is a hard-liner who wants to secure the borders and enforce immigration laws before taking up the question of what is to be done with an estimated 12 million people who are here illegally.

"The number one reason I've decided to run for the U.S. Senate is our broken immigration system," Ting said.

By contrast, Carper voted last month in favor of legislation that would tighten border security while also providing a means for undocumented workers to become citizens. It was a vote that put Carper, not Ting, in line with the Republican Bush administration.

Ting also served notice he will focus his campaign on tax cuts -- he stands with President George W. Bush on this one in supporting them -- and on Carper's lead role as governor in approving a deregulation law that has electric bills soaring.

As if Ting does not have enough of a task in taking on Carper, who has won more statewide races than anyone else in Delaware history, he also has to deal with the distraction of a Republican primary Sept. 12 with Michael D. Protack, a serial office-seeker.

Protack popped up by e-mail Wednesday to flog Ting for daring to announce on Flag Day despite protesting against the Vietnam War as a college student four decades ago. Ting, who now says he was on the wrong side of that debate, was having none of Protack.

"Mr. Protack is the Lyndon LaRouche of Delaware politics. He's never been successful, and I submit there must be a reason for it," said Ting, casting Protack with a Democratic fringe presidential candidate known for going to jail and accusing the British royal family of drug trafficking.

Ting is the party's endorsed Senate candidate, and his announcement brought a show of solidarity from the party leadership. State Chair Terry A. Strine, National Committeewoman Priscilla B. Rakestraw and National Committeeman John R. Matlusky all were there in Dover for him.

Even in a party besotted with Wharton's candidacy, Protack is a red flag that can get the leadership's attention. On Flag Day, it worked for Jan Ting.