Posted: Jan. 9, 2004
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER NOT
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
In a stunning reversal,
state Insurance Commissioner Donna Lee Williams announced Friday she
would not seek a fourth term to the office she first won in 1992,
sending shock waves through her fellow Republicans and the Delaware
Williams, a Dover attorney
before entering politics, dropped her bombshell in a press release,
saying, "I firmly believe that this decision is in the best
interests of both the people of Delaware and my family. I have
accomplished many of the goals I set for this department, and I am
proud of the fact that I am leaving it and Delaware's insurance
stakeholders in a better position than when I arrived."
In a telephone interview
later, Williams said her decision came after weeks of introspection.
She said she had no idea what she would do next -- other than talk
to her daughter's fourth-grade teacher about becoming the "room mom
for the class."
ricocheted quickly through the state's politicians, but their public
reaction was subdued or non-existent. Republican Party officials
were unavailable for comment.
Williams was expected to
face a tough re-election campaign. She made her decision known the
week after Matthew P. Denn, a Democrat seeking his party's
nomination for insurance commissioner, announced he had raised
$123,000 for his campaign.
Williams also had detractors
within the Republican Party, and she won her last race in 2000 by
only 53 percent of the vote against an under-funded challenger,
Karen Weldin Stewart, who also has said she plans to run again in
Williams said she was not
getting out because of political concerns. "I'm not making this
decision because I don't think I can win. I honestly believe that if
I set my mind to be elected to a fourth term, that it would happen.
I never thought of myself as a career politician. It's time for me
to put my family first," she said.
While the Republicans are
left temporarily with a vacancy on their ballot, there is apparently
at least one potential candidate waiting in the wings. Jeffrey E.
Cragg, the New Castle County Republican co-chairman who is a
businessman with insurance interests, has been mentioned for months
in party circles as a possible alternative to Williams.
He said Friday afternoon he
was open to running. "I'm considering it, very interested in it and
looking for direction from the party," Cragg said.
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