Posted: Aug. 31, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

As a Democratic candidate, Dennis Spivack was so obsessed he declared his willingness to walk the length of his state on his knees, although there is no evidence it came to that, and never interred his campaign after losing to U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, a Republican who won his eighth term in 2006.

As recently as Thursday, Spivack still was in high dudgeon -- "I believe I have the experience and the judgment and the passion and the compassion" -- about pursuing Castle in 2008.

Then came a reality check in discussions about his finances, political and personal, and like Mighty Casey at the bat, Spivack has struck out.

Spivack ended his 2006 campaign $129,000 in the hole. Castle has $1.3 million in his treasury and another fund-raiser planned for Saturday at Rehoboth Beach.

Spivack, a lawyer from Brandywine Hundred, hoped the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political arm and piggy bank for the House Democrats, would be willing to help him out in 2008, but his entreaties have gone unanswered, and he conceded he probably will have to hang up his candidacy.

"I want to run, but I don't think I can run if I don't get the backing of the DCCC. I don't have any other personal funds that I can put into the campaign. I wouldn't want to run at half speed. You can only beat someone like the current congressman if you can run full time. I can't rebuild my [law] practice and campaign full time and make it work," Spivack said Friday.

"In my heart and soul I want to run. The heart says one thing, but my head says something else."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has focused its attention elsewhere from Castle. The committee has vulnerable Democrats to defend to keep its majority, open seats to go after, and shaky Republicans to attack.

Castle is not featured on the committee's Web site like the "Heather Wilson Watch" set up for a New Mexico Republican involved in the controversy over the firing of U.S. attorneys. Nor was he included in the committee's advertising campaign this month against a dozen Republican moderates supporting President Bush on the Iraq war.

The Democratic House committee did show some interest in Delaware early this year, but that was a time when it thought Castle, a 68-year-old who had a mild stroke in 2006, might retire or it might be able to recruit a proven vote-getter like Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr., Treasurer Jack A. Markell, Insurance Commissioner Matthew P. Denn or New Castle County Executive Christopher A. Coons.

Instead, Castle is charging ahead, and all of the preferred Democrats had other plans, Carney and Markell for governor, Denn for lieutenant governor and Coons for re-election.

A potential primary further diminished Spivack's appeal as the Rev. Christopher A. Bullock explores a possible run for the Democratic nomination.

Spivack plans to all-but-mothball his campaign. "I'm still going to be out there talking to people, but I have to be designated the candidate by the DCCC to run," he said.

He does not really expect the Democratic House committee to come through, not after he was told he would hear something by mid-summer.

"As my wife Marcia says, don't you think if they wanted you as a candidate, they'd be in touch by now?"