Posted: Aug. 17, 2011


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The Delaware Republicans did not get anywhere near 17,000 people to vote in a presidential straw poll at the state fair, the way the Iowa Republicans did, but the outcome was the same, anyway.

Michele Bachmann was the first choice of the corn-dog-and-carnival-ride crowd, no matter if the ballots were counted in Harrington or Ames.

Michele Bachmann! She is the Minnesota congresswoman who looks like she could swallow kryptonite and chase it with hemlock. Bachmann's showing is a pretty big clue that the angry voters who went rampaging through the 2010 election have not been satiated yet.

Take that, Mike Castle. Take this, Tim Pawlenty.

The Delaware Republicans got about 500 people to vote in their straw poll over the 10-day course of the state fair at the end of July. This could be about the same number of people who buy Christine O'Donnell's book.

Bachmann came in at 18 percent, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney at 15 percent, and Chris Christie at 12 percent. Here as in Iowa last Saturday, the voting does not reflect the candidates' standing in an aggregate of national polls tracked by the Real Clear Politics Web site, which has Romney leading at 20 percent, Perry at 18 percent and Bachmann at 10 percent.

What the voting does reflect, however, is that people are choosing sides and the presidential selection season really has entered the opening rounds, not just in Iowa, the site of the first caucus, but also here, even though the Delaware primary comes toward the end on April 24.

Romney is the first candidate building a local organization. It went public with the word from Greg Lavelle, the minority leader in the state House of Representatives, that he decided to commit to Mitt.

"I think he can win. He brings a wealth of experience in government and the private sector, dealing with diverse situations ranging from the Olympics to the state of Massachusetts," Lavelle said.

Lavelle, who is also the Republicans' state vice chair, said there are others who will be working with Romney's campaign, including John Rollins III, the New Castle County Republican chair, Hans Reigle, the Kent County Republican chair, and Michael Fleming, a past New Castle County Republican chair.

Romney could have company coming. John Sigler, the Republican state chair, has heard some early expressions of interest in Bachmann, Perry, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, all of which also could lead to state-based operations.

"It's still a tad bit early for these organizations to surface. I suspect there were a lot of people waiting to see what happened in Iowa," Sigler said.

Sigler himself has pledged to stay neutral, although he is otherwise endorsing a robust sorting out of the presidential field. As he e-mailed his fellow Republicans, "I fully expect, however, for other party leaders to actively participate in the primary process as they feel appropriate. In fact, I encourage those party leaders to do so. That is also healthy for our party."

The Delaware Democrats are sidelined, of course, because they have Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Spared it, from the perspective of people who are already sick of it. Denied it, in the view of the political types who can never get enough of it.

All the Democrats have going on is some empty chatter here and there about swapping in Hillary Clinton for vice president, but to prattle about it in Delaware? No way.