Posted: July 24, 2006


Election cycle

With the filing deadline for the 2006 ballot four days away on Friday, there is still no Republican willing to take on Jack A. Markell, the Democratic state treasurer running for his third term.

It means that Markell has had the leisure to focus on his real rivalry, the one with Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr. for the 2008 Democratic nomination for governor.

Each of them, of course, has had a charmed political career. Markell knocked off a Republican incumbent to make his mark from the start and was the Democrats' top statewide vote-getter both times he ran in 1998 and 2002. Carney likewise led the party's statewide ticket in his two races in 2000 and 2004 and has Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's backing for 2008.

Markell, 45, entered politics with the financial independence from being on the ground floor with Nextel in the early days of the telecommunications revolution. It let him build a campaign war chest of $1.5 million, half of it from his own pocket.

Carney, 50, came into politics with the name recognition from his athletic glory days as the quarterback on the 1973 state championship football team at St. Mark's High School and his All-Ivy League credentials at Dartmouth College. It made him a cinch for the jock vote, and he has done everything he can to keep it.

Carney is a cheerleader for physical fitness through his "Lt. Governor's Challenge" -- his staff has a fondness for abbreviating "lieutenant" and spelling out "governor" -- and he recently sponsored a fun walk around the Monster Mile at Dover Downs.

It appears, however, that Markell is unwilling to concede Carney the jock vote. Markell has put together a campaign event he is calling "Tour de Delaware" and plans to ride a bicycle on a three-day trip that will take him the length of the state from Aug. 23 to Aug. 25.

Markell will cycle from Claymont to Newark to Delaware City on the first day, from Delaware City to Middletown to Clayton to Dover to Harrington on the second day, and from Harrington to Bridgeville to Bethel to Delmar on the third day. Although Delaware is about 110 miles long, the zigzags in the ride will make it about 150 miles.

Floyd Landis, he is not. But it one-ups a dinky fun walk at Dover Downs.

No objection, Your Honor

When Carolyn Berger became a state Supreme Court justice 12 years ago, there was judicial warfare.

The opening was being created because Justice Andrew G.T. Moore was being dumped. Delaware was doing what it takes great pains not to do -- making a spectacle out of its highest court.

Although the state has little stomach for rocking the bench, because it teams with the Court of Chancery to provide a prestigious and lucrative international franchise in business law, there was even less stomach for Moore because of his habit of scalding lawyers.

Moore departed, a rare case of a sitting judge denied reappointment. Berger, who was a vice chancellor at the time, was moved up. In one way it was a typical route, going from Chancery to the Supreme Court, but in another way it was unique. Berger was the first woman to get there.

After so much hullabaloo last time, there is none now. Berger recently applied to the Judicial Nominating Commission for another 12-year term, and F. Michael Parkowski, the Dover lawyer who is the chair, is expected to meet with Minner this week to present its recommendation, according to Joseph C. Schoell, the governor's counsel.

Although no one will say for sure because the nominating commission's deliberations are confidential, it is safe to assume that the only name on Parkowski's list will be Berger's.

Technically Berger's term expired Saturday, but under the state constitution, judges may hold over for 60 days without a new nomination and confirmation by the state Senate. A special session will have to be held before Sept. 11 to meet the deadline for the Supreme Court seat and two on Family Court, Schoell said.

Berger is on track to remain the only woman ever on the Supreme Court and the only justice ever to have a judge for a husband. She is married to Superior Court Judge Fred S. Silverman.