Posted: July 8, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

There have been great trios of names over time.

Rodney, Read and McKean. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Harry, Ron and Hermione. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

It is pretty much safe to say the trio of Wade, Izzo and Kittila will not be joining them.

This is what the top of the Delaware Republican ticket is looking like, now that the candidates' filing deadline has come and gone, as of Tuesday at noon.

For things that are grouped in threes, it is more on the order of one-two-three-strikes-you're out.

Kevin Wade, running for senator, is a retread who got clobbered for the Senate two years ago by 150,000 votes. Rose Izzo is a perennial congressional candidate, who by default is escaping from the primary to the general election for the first time. Ted Kittila is a lawyer trying for attorney general as a political newbie.

They are opposing Democrats who collectively have won eight statewide elections.

That would be Chris Coons, finishing up his first term as a senator, and John Carney, twice elected as the state's lone congressman after two terms as lieutenant governor, and Matt Denn, running for attorney general in the middle of his second term as lieutenant governor with a previous term as insurance commissioner.

The filing day turned out to be a snapshot of the state of the two parties, and it is nothing new.

The Democrats have seamlessly remade their vanguard over the past three elections, ever since Joe Biden departed from the Senate for vice president, with Jack Markell as governor, Coons and Carney joining Tom Carper in the congressional delegation, and Denn stepping up while Beau Biden takes a breather on the sidelines as life keeps getting in his way.

The Republicans have been in free fall since the gory primary for the Senate four years ago between Mike Castle and Christine O'Donnell.

Charlie Copeland, the Republican state chair, all but conceded the party is punting on the statewide races in the hope of making gains in the future from the bottom up.

"Since 2010 the Republican Party has worked to undo the effects of a brutal and divisive primary election that wounded our party both politically and financially. At the top of the list . . . is the creation of a back bench of elected officials that can later go on to run for statewide federal and state offices," Copeland said in a statement.

To add another note of absurdity, Kevin Wade does not even have a clear shot at the nomination for senator. Carl Smink, a retired Air Force officer, also has filed, although he has been unreachable for an interview and his Web site is a work in progress with notations like, "Carol, Please size and insert AF photo here."

It is not any prettier for the Republicans farther down the ballot. They just cannot seem to get out of their own way.

The Republicans had their fingers crossed they could capitalize on a Democratic primary for state treasurer between Chip Flowers, whose first term descended into a political sideshow, and Sean Barney, a former gubernatorial and senatorial aide, but instead the Republicans were blindsided on filing day with a race of their own on Primary Day on Sept. 9.

Ken Simpler, a financial professional, was sailing along as the Republican candidate until the long weekend of July Fourth, when there was suddenly talk that Sher Valenzuela, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2012, was going to cut in, and she did.

Valenzuela's candidacy came about so hurriedly that her Web site misspells her own surname at one point: "Paid for by Sher Valenzuala for State Treasurer."

The final statewide election for auditor looks like the sanest one on the ballot. Tom Wagner, the Republican auditor for 25 years, is trying to fend off an assault from Brenda Mayrack, a lawyer, although she first has to dispense with a nuisance primary with Ken Matlusky, an also-ran for the Democratic nomination in 2010.

The Republicans' focus on rebuilding looks like they have a long way to go.

The candidate filings for the legislature did not create an impression that the Democratic majorities would be threatened in either the Senate, where the Democrats are in charge by 13-8, or the House of Representatives, where they hold an edge of 27-14.

The filings did appear to set up what could be some ugly primaries on both sides of the aisle -- for Bob Marshall and Bryan Townsend, both Democratic senators, and for Valerie Longhurst, the House Democratic majority leader, as well as for Dennis Williams, a Democratic representative, and Joe Miro, a Republican representative.

As if the Democrats do not have enough going for them, the party leadership under John Daniello, the state chair, was the force behind recent legislation tightening the parties' grip on the election apparatus. While both parties stand to benefit, the Democrats are in a better position to execute.

A new law stipulating one-candidate-one-party-one-office does away with the silliness of allowing people to run on more than one party ticket and/or for more than one office in the same election.

Another new law disbands the loosely-held boards of elections for the three counties in favor of a centralized state board. Even more telling, the bipartisan membership of the new state board is to be appointed by the governor from names provided by the two state chairs.

Daniello has a saying, "when you're in the driver's seat, drive." It sure looks like the Democrats are.