Posted: July 7, 2016


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The Democratic and Republican state chairs took extremely opposite approaches as the candidates' filing deadline closes in.

John Daniello, the Democratic state chair, is trying to get rid of candidates. Charlie Copeland, the Republican state chair, is pleading for more of them.

Guess which party runs Delaware?

With the filing deadline set at noon on Tuesday for the 2016 election, Daniello caused a stir by sending out a letter last week to Democratic primary candidates by telling them to think about getting out of the way.

Daniello loathes primaries. It does not take Sigmund Freud to figure this goes all the way back to the very first time Delaware conducted a primary election in 1970, and Daniello was in it, and he won the congressional primary but was too banged up politically to mount any kind of race against Pete du Pont, who went on to be not only a Republican congressman but a governor.

The Democrats are looking at a host of primaries. Not for governor, where John Carney is sitting pretty, but the party has five candidates for congressperson, six candidates for lieutenant governor and three candidates for insurance commissioner, as well as a primary opponent for Pete Schwartzkopf, the speaker.

Daniello is like a Democratic chair who lives in a shoe with so many primaries he does not know what to do. So he sent his letter.

"I do not want to push anyone out of the race but I do want to make sure that each of you has given a second and third thought to your candidacy," Daniello wrote.

"The Democratic Party has [an] arduous slate of primaries ahead of it. There is absolutely no room for vanity campaigns, either statewide or local. We owe it to Delaware's voters to make sure that we are running for the betterment of the office and the community, not the betterment of ourselves. The Party needs to be sure that you are doing this for the right reasons."

Candidates took it personally. They acted offended. Big surprise.

"Voters should decide elections, and candidates and parties should respect voters," wrote Bryan Townsend, one of the Democrats running for the congressional seat, on Facebook.

The thing about primaries is, there are primaries and then there are primaries.

They can go either way. The Democrats had the one for governor in 2008 between Jack Markell and John Carney, and it looks like the party could get two consecutive governors out of it. The Republicans had the one for senator in 2010 between Mike Castle and Christine "I'm not a Witch" O'Donnell, and it made a Democratic senator out of Chris Coons.

Townsend himself could become part of primary lore someday. If he is elected congressman, he will get there because he took out Tony DeLuca, the Democratic president pro tem, in a primary for state senator in 2012 and followed it up with the congressional primary this time around.

As much as Daniello thinks the Democrats have too many candidates, Charlie Copeland thinks the Republicans do not have enough.

Just before Daniello let fly with his letter last week, Copeland sent a short video by blast e-mail to his fellow Republicans to troll for candidates.

The Republicans have gone through the motions of fielding candidates for a statewide ticket, but for a legislative slate? Not so much.

They are all right for the state Senate, where they are trying to overturn a Democratic majority that has endured for an incredible 43 years, but their ballot for the state House of Representatives looks like the moths have gotten to it.

The Democrats control the state House by 25-16. As of Thursday, the Republicans were contesting four of the Democratic seats. Four! Even if their wildest dreams came true and they won all of them, it would not get them to the majority.

Copeland is like a state chair whose cupboard is bare. So out came the Hail Charlie video.

"If you've ever considered running for office, now is a good time to talk to party leaders and learn more," said Copeland in a YouTube posting.

A political operative wryly observed that the state chairs could be the answer to each other's prayers. The Democratic candidates could drop out, and Copeland could grant them a registration waiver for openings on the Republican ballot.

Every party needs a switcher, and the Republicans especially do.