Posted: Aug. 17, 2012


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Not everyone on the "Top Five Endangered Incumbents" list is a goner, but they all could be.

1. Dori Connor is done.

Connor, a mild-mannered Republican state senator recognized for her diligent constituent work, is running in a district that droops along the Delaware River from Old New Castle to south of the canal. That is no district for Republicans.

More than half of the voters are Democrats. Connor stayed in the Senate -- where she arrived by a special election in 1997 to assume the seat her late husband had occupied since 1980 -- because the Democrats never bothered to field a candidate since 2000. This time they are.

The Democrats are so taken with Nicole Poore, their candidate who is known for her advocacy work for disabled children, they are piling on. Jack Markell, the Democratic governor, is in her corner, and so is the Senate's Democratic leadership. The Republicans have fallen on such hard times, they do not seem to have the firepower to counter. As one Republican put it, "Dori's done."

2. Paul Clark could be voted out before he is ever voted in.

It is not every race where the incumbent was not elected to the office but his arch-rival was. Welcome to the campaign for New Castle County executive.

Clark is the Democratic incumbent, but only because he moved up from council  president when Chris Coons, the Democrat before him, went to the Senate. Tom Gordon, the Democrat who is Clark's nemesis, hit the two-term limit for county executive after his election in 1996 and 2000, but he is trying to return, as allowed after a break, by making his move against Clark in a primary.

This is a very noisy race. One guy was convicted and the other guy conflicted.

Gordon endured a sensational federal corruption probe that went from a bang to a whimper but got him to plead to a couple of misdemeanors. Clark encountered public fury over his wife's land-use law practice, and although she did give it up, she leaves behind her involvement with controversial projects by Stoltz real estate at Barley Mill Plaza and Greenville Center.

This is a choose-your-poison vote. There are also two other Democrats and a Republican running, not that anyone has particularly noticed.

3. Joe Booth is a marked man walking.

Booth's re-election as a Republican state senator has been in doubt since his last re-election. A solid Sussex County conservative, Booth survived a primary two years ago by only 120 votes. This was before anybody knew he had already arranged to get himself on the public payroll with an administrative job at Sussex Tech.

Never mind Mother Nature, it is not nice to fool the voters.

Eric Bodenweiser, a Tea Party Republican who put the scare into Booth the last time, is back for a rematch. Still, Booth has had two years to work on calming the voters, not to mention the Tea Party turnout might not be there for Bodenweiser the way it was with Christine O'Donnell pulling it out.

4. Either Nick Manolakos or Joe Miro has to go.

No owl has to die and have its entrails read to predict there will be one less incumbent after the Republican primary between Manolakos and Miro, a couple of state representatives tossed by redistricting into a single Hockessin-Pike Creek Valley seat.

The race could go either way. Afterwards, the winner has every reason to count on returning to the state House of Representatives with the district's voter registration favoring the Republicans.

5. Either Mike Katz or Greg Lavelle has to stay.

Lavelle, the House's Republican minority leader, was redistricted out of his own seat and decided to go after Katz, a Democratic state senator, in a district that sweeps through Brandywine Hundred and Chateau Country.

So Lavelle is already gone. This race is about whether he can capitalize on favorable Republican registration to make Katz go, instead, and come back reincarnated as a state senator.

Watch list: Tony DeLuca, the Senate's Democratic president pro tem, and Karen Weldin Stewart, the Democratic insurance commissioner