Posted: Sept. 9, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

This was a restoration of Mike Castle's Republican Party.

Primary Day brought out the Republican regulars of Castle's sensible stand-your-middle-ground party to vote Tuesday to give Ken Simpler the nomination for state treasurer.

This time there was not a flash-mob of Tea Party Republicans to let Sher Valenzuela prevail the way Christine O'Donnell did against Castle in the Senate primary four years ago.

This is what happens on a Primary Day so humdrum it was ignored by droves and droves of voters.

The formalities were left up to the political establishment of both parties, which fretted more than it should have that an exceedingly light turnout -- 14 percent for the Republicans and 7 percent for the Democrats -- might do its trick of transforming the voting into candidates' roulette, but it did not.

"Nobody cared," said Bob Byrd, a lobbyist who was once a Democratic state representative.

Not that there were no casualties. A legislator fell here and there, and even survival could come with a good scare.

It was good-bye to Dennis Williams, a Democratic state representative in Brandywine Hundred, and so long to Don Blakey, a Republican state representative in Kent County, and a real close call for Bobby Marshall, a Democratic state senator in Wilmington.

Still, no primary stood out more than the Republican race for treasurer.

Simpler was the numbers guy, the financial professional running on his resume. Valenzuela was Tea Party orthodoxy, her ambush candidacy coming right at the filing deadline in full cry for "the right to life" and "traditional marriage" and the Second Amendment and no truck with Obamacare.   

Simpler defeated Valenzuela by 54 percent to 46 percent, almost a mirror image of the way O'Donnell outpolled Castle by 53 percent to 47 percent.

In another switch, Sussex County had doomed Castle, but Simpler ran up his tally there to show there is no place like home, either over the rainbow or in politics. He grew up in Sussex, although he lives in Newark now.

Next up for Simpler is an Election Day matchup on Nov. 4 against Sean Barney, the Democratic candidate who won by default.

The campaign for treasurer was supposed to be a primary double-whammy with the Democrats having a runoff, too, but it was terminated when it became Barney against Chip Flowers, the treasurer who went rogue, as he stunningly decided to abandon state politics and get out.

The Democrats were left with the primary for auditor as their showcase race of the day, and the outcome came as a relief to the party establishment.

Brenda Mayrack, the endorsed candidate, was expected to win comfortably against Ken Matlusky, but he showed more sticking power than he was supposed to.

Mayrack drew 55 percent of the vote and Matlusky 45 percent. Perhaps it should not have been a surprise, considering Matlusky is a second-time-around candidate who got 46 percent of the vote in the 2010 primary.

Mayrack is regarded as the Democrats' best chance yet to take out Tom Wagner, the 25-year auditor who is the last Republican left standing in statewide office.

Let the voters take Primary Day lightly. The political establishment never does.