Posted: June 17, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The political firmament shook last week when Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, lost his primary in a Virginia congressional district.

No way it was supposed to happen.

There is a lot of that kind of stuff going around these days. Delaware can attest.

What goes up is supposed to stay up

Not just the political firmament shook. So did the real firmament. No way the bridge on I-495 was supposed to have to be shut down before it could fall down, snarling traffic, not to mention sending politicians in Dover and D.C. into crisis mode.

Dirt did this, or so they say. It is not uncommon to have politicians involved in digging up dirt figuratively, but literally?

A justice denied

Carolyn Berger must have missed the memo, reminding people in public life, don't go away mad, just go away, or at least pretend you're not going away mad.

Berger is going away from the state Supreme Court, where she sat as a justice for 20 years, and her timing made it look very much like someone going away mad.

Berger's retirement comes just months after Jack Markell, the Democratic governor, passed her over for chief justice in favor of Leo Strine Jr., elevated from chancellor on the Court of Chancery, the forum famous for its corporate law caseload. Never mind her 12-year term is not up until 2018.

Not only that, but her departure date of Sept. 1 means the governor is forced to bring in the Senate for a special session to confirm a replacement smack in the middle of the campaign season.

Even so, Markell followed conventional form by putting out a gracious statement praising Berger, the only woman to sit on the Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery, as a trailblazer who "broke through the glass ceiling."

That should have been that. Certainly there would have been speculation that Berger was sending a message with her manner of departure, but nothing more.

No way was Berger supposed to tell all in an interview with the Delaware Law Weekly, but she did.

"Obviously, there is a relationship between my resignation and having been passed over for chief justice. Contrary to what the governor said in the press release, I haven't broken a glass ceiling. As a person who has been on both this court and the Chancery Court, to not have been taken seriously as a candidate was disheartening," Berger was quoted as saying.

"I certainly have a lot more experience than the current chief justice."

Memorial Daze

Probably few people beyond Sean Barney and his own campaign manager ever would have known that Barney, a Democratic candidate for state treasurer, appeared on a Memorial Day-themed show last month on MSNBC until . . .

Chip Flowers, the first-term treasurer being challenged by Barney in a Democratic primary, complained that Barney was "trying to politicize military service."

No way Flowers should have done that. It turned into a publicized reminder that Barney, as a Marine who enlisted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, took a bullet in the neck in Iraq, and it brought out a bunch of indignant veterans to defend Barney.

Besides, there is a great American tradition of politicizing military service. Who wants to knock George Washington?