Posted: Sept. 24, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

If the Democrats can have thoughts of a husband and wife for president, could  the Delaware Republicans be thinking the same for lieutenant governor?

Michele Rollins was the keynote speaker Friday evening when the Brandywine Hundred Republicans held their annual "Road to Victory" dinner. It drew about 150 people to the Brandywine Country Club -- and probably not because they could get a good deal on the wine that was donated for the silent auction.

The draw was Rollins.

Political sightings are about as accidental as Janet Jackson's famous "wardrobe malfunction." They are as eye-rolling as all those times Joe Biden sauntered into New Hampshire and pretended it had nothing to do with running for president, until he was running for president.

Not surprisingly, when Rollins gave a speech for a political party that is starved for candidates, people wondered why. It unleashed all sorts of speculation that Rollins, the accomplished businesswoman behind Dover Downs and a Jamaican luxury resort called Rose Hall, could want a spot on the 2008 ticket -- possibly for lieutenant governor.

There was even a sentimental side to it, because John Rollins, her husband who died in 2000, was elected lieutenant governor in 1952. He did not seek re-election, although he did run as the Republicans' candidate for governor in 1960 before turning his attention full time toward building a business empire.

The Republicans would love Michele Rollins to run.

"I don't know about you, but I think we should draft Michele Rollins for something or other," teased state Rep. Mike Castle when he spoke at the Brandywine dinner.

"There wouldn't be a finer candidate. Michele encompasses all the qualities and qualifications you want for a candidate for any office -- businesswoman, community leader, caring, phenomenally intelligent," said Priscilla Rakestraw, the Republican national committeewoman.

In addition to lieutenant governor, the Republicans have other statewide openings, although they hope to fill the one for governor with Alan Levin, late of Happy Harry's. They also have one for the U.S. Senate, and Rollins did take a look at that race in 2006, until she decided her business commitments precluded it, but this time is different.

That campaign would have been against Tom Carper, a Democrat who won his second term that year. This one would be against Biden, and the Rollinses and the Bidens go back a long way. Michele is about as likely to run against Joe as Beau is.

Instead, there will be no race for lieutenant governor or for anything else in 2008. Rollins is not running. She is flushing.

Rollins is overseeing the construction of a $10 million sewage treatment plant in Jamaica, and it is demanding a huge amount of attention. She recoiled at the prospect of taking on anything as time-consuming as a statewide campaign. She has another role for herself in mind.

"We have the potential to have a winning ticket. We have great candidates who are whispering on the sidelines. If the candidates I'm hearing about step up" -- this means you, Alan Levin -- "I'm going to be there working 100 percent of the time," Rollins told the Brandywine Republicans.

It sounded like code for "political contributions," and Rollins got a big round of applause for it. If the Republicans cannot have her as a candidate, they will take cash.