Posted: Aug. 11, 2015


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

"Run like it's 2016" is turning into the new "Party like it's 1999."

Nobody wants to be a political wallflower who has the wherewithal not to be. Amid the mosh pit that is the 2016 election, it appears there are two more likely candidates, one for lieutenant governor and one for insurance commissioner, about ready to jump in.

They would bring the total number of people being mentioned for statewide office to seventeen, which would make it the Delaware equivalent of a Republican presidential pack.

This does not even include Chris Bullock, who toyed with running for lieutenant governor before deciding to go for a second term as the Democratic president of the New Castle County Council.

The political itch is bursting out everywhere, regardless of race, creed, gender or geography.

It must be killing Tom Carper, the winning-est statewide candidate of all, that he has to be left out. He can probably be found studying the state constitution in search of a loophole that would let him ditch life as a Democratic senator and run for a third term as governor. This recovering governor stuff has never really worked for him.

The two latest who could get into the statewide lineup are Ciro Poppiti III and Jeff Cragg, neither of whom would be making their first political rodeo.

Poppiti, a lawyer who is the New Castle County register of wills, has designs on joining the Democratic field for lieutenant governor, where there is already a crowd, but he can take a free shot at it because he is in the middle of his second term and does not have to resign to run.

Poppiti was not ready to make it official on Tuesday, but he acknowledged he could have an announcement shortly.

"I feel like the baton is coming to me," Poppiti said.

Cragg, the Republican candidate for governor in 2012, is said to be looking at insurance commissioner, although it would mean a primary. George Parish, a Republican who used to be the Sussex County clerk of the peace, is already running.

Cragg could not be reached for an interview, but the word is spreading in political circles that he is considering it, and he has wanted to run for it before. A businessman with experience as an insurance executive, Cragg was briefly a candidate for insurance commissioner in 2004 but got out once he failed to get the endorsement at the party's state convention.

This campaign season is practically Shakespearean, shaped as it has been by tragedy and ambition. It is like "Macbeth" without all the killings.

There was always going to be a lot of action, stoked by open races for governor and lieutenant governor, what with Jack Markell barred from running again as the Democratic governor and Matt Denn already shucking his stint as the Democratic lieutenant governor mid-term to get elected in 2014 as the attorney general.

Still, it had looked fairly straightforward at first. Beau Biden was going to run for governor, John Carney was up for a fourth term as the Democratic congressman, and although a lot of Democrats were jostling for lieutenant governor, the field probably would have emptied in a hurry if Beau had winked at one of them.

Karen Weldin Stewart, the Democratic insurance commissioner, was drawing challengers as usual, but really. For insurance commissioner. Not a lot of voter angst there.

Then everything changed on this last sad Memorial Day. As Beau was fond of saying, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."

Now Carney is supposed to be running for governor, although he has yet to say it, and Tom Gordon is playing peek-a-boo with the governor's race from his office as New Castle County's Democratic executive, and the field for the congressional seat is like a compressed accordion, just waiting to widen and make a lot of discordant noise, and the one for lieutenant governor has more bodies than a clown car, even without a Republican in it.

As for the election for insurance commissioner, it is the SNAFU it was always expected to be. Situation Normal, All Filled Up.

Clip, but do not save, because it is bound to change:

Person Party Could Be Currently Is
John Carney D governor congressman
Tom Gordon D governor New Castle County executive
Colin Bonini R governor state senator
Lacey Lafferty R governor ex-trooper
Collin O'Mara D congressman National Wildlife Federation president
Bryon Short D congressman state representative
Bryan Townsend D congressman state senator
Hans Reigle R congressman Wyoming ex-mayor
Brad Eaby D lt governor Kent County Levy Court commissioner
Greg Fuller D lt governor Sussex County ex-register of wills
Kathy McGuiness D lt governor Rehoboth Beach commissioner
Ciro Poppiti III D lt governor New Castle County register of wills
Sherry Dorsey Walker D lt governor Wilmington councilwoman
Karen Weldin Stewart D insurance commissioner insurance commissioner
Trini Navarro D insurance commissioner New Castle County sheriff
Jeff Cragg R insurance commissioner ex-candidate for governor
George Parish R insurance commissioner Sussex County ex-clerk of the peace