Posted: July 20, 2011


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The filing deadline is a year away. Do the Republicans know where their statewide candidates are?

Ha! If Delaware looks like a one-party state, the Republicans are certainly doing their part. They are woefully derelict in observing the fundamental law of politics, you can't beat somebody with nobody, and right now nobody is all they have.

Not that it is easy to find people to take on the great wall of candidates whom the Democrats plan to be fronting in 2012.

There is Tom Carper, running for re-election for senator, just a race away from setting the record for the most statewide wins ever at 13. There are the re-election campaigns for John Carney for congressman, Jack Markell for governor and Matt Denn for lieutenant governor, who collectively have won nine times statewide.

Oh, and insurance commissioner. The Democrats could have a primary, what's-her-name against what's-his-name. What's-her-name is the incumbent. Too bad it is so hard to get voters to pay attention to this one, because it really is important.

Perish the thought, but conceivably the only people lining up to vote for insurance commissioner are Blue Cross Blue Shield executives.

As if the Democrats' statewide lineup is not formidable enough, Joe Biden will be dancing up there on the presidential ticket. Not to mention this election is shaping up as the last time ever for Delawareans to be able to vote for him.

Forty years it has been. Sayonara, Joe. We heartily knew ye.

While the voters can be forgiven if they think it is too early to care about the election, it is different for the politicians. Both money and name recognition need to be raised, particularly for challengers setting their sights on the likes of Tom Carper, who already is sitting on upwards of $1.5 million, or Jack Markell, who came up with $4 million to get himself elected governor.

One well-placed Republican conceded it would take $3 million or $4 million and two years to mount a serious campaign against Carper. That window already has closed.

The Republicans have nobody but themselves to blame for their depleted condition. They had a beautiful chance in 2010 with open races for the Senate and House of Representatives, but they did themselves in with primaries.

Tea Partiers overwhelmed the regulars, Christine O'Donnell stunning Mike Castle for the Senate and Glen Urquhart upending Michele Rollins for the House of Representatives.

The statewide electorate is like Goldilocks -- not too left, not too right -- so it predictably turned to the Democrats and made Chris Coons a senator and John Carney a congressman. Tea parties in Delaware are better left to afternoons at the Hotel du Pont, not politics.

The Republicans have their share of catching up to do.

"It is far too early for me to tell you who the statewide candidates are," said John Sigler, who took over in April as the Republican state chair. "We are looking at these things. We're all focused on one thing -- ending one-party rule in Delaware."

The Republicans have Reince Priebus, their national chair, coming here Aug. 20 to Sussex County for a picnic that Sigler says will begin a party-building effort called "Operation Win Back Delaware."

It should be a good place for potential statewide candidates to roam. Kevin Wade, who was briefly in the 2010 mix for the congressional nomination, acknowledges he is looking at the Senate. So might Urquhart, newly elected as the Sussex County Republican chair, although he is being cagey.

Another name being mentioned, perhaps for the congressional race, is Tom Kovach, who won a special election in January for New Castle County Council president.

It is all so vague. The picnic is another month away, another month closer to the filing deadline. In politics, it gets late early.