Posted: Feb. 19, 2004
A RACE WORTH WATCHING
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Every now and then a
political race comes along that assumes importance beyond all
proportion. It appears to be shaping up that way for a legislative
seat in Newark.
Already U.S. Rep. Michael N.
Castle has put himself on the line for the Republicans. Already Gov.
Ruth Ann Minner has done the same for the Democrats. Already top
party strategists on both sides are laying out the campaigns.
So much is being brought to
bear that the candidates almost could seem beside the point, except
that they are the point, because of the caliber of both of them and
because of what winning means for the future of their respective
Furthermore, this is one of
those races that appears to happen only in Delaware. Because of
family ties and friendships, there is so much political
cross-pollination going on that some very important people are
skipping across party lines to work with the candidate of the
This outsized political
battleground is the 23rd Representative District, where state
Republican Rep. Timothy U. Boulden is exiting after 10 years, he
says because of pressing concerns at his family's fuel company.
The Democratic candidate,
the first to announce, is Teresa L. "Terry" Schooley, a baby boomer
and past Christina school board president well known in the
children's advocacy network she frequents. She runs Kids Count, a
project housed at the University of Delaware to collect statistics
The Republican candidate is
Paul J. Pomeroy, who is out of the next generation, regarded so much
as an up-and-comer by his party that he was named the 2002
Republican of the Year. He is the business development director for
Aloysius Butler & Clark, a marketing and public relations firm based
Three weeks ago no one
anticipated this match-up. Then Boulden stunned the political set by
announcing to his colleagues in the state House of Representatives
he would not run for another two-year term, and what happened next
was spontaneous political combustion.
The Democrats already had
Schooley ready to go, and no matter how much Boulden talked about
his business responsibilities, they were sure she had scared him
off. He barely had won his last election by a margin of 367 votes
out of 6,089 votes cast.
With Boulden out of the way,
the Democrats were counting on the race as a pickup for their side,
although it actually means more to them than that. They are mired in
the House minority, outnumbered by the Republicans 29-12, and they
see Schooley as an emblem of the march back toward the
respectability they long for.
The vacuum on the Republican
side hardly opened before it was filled. Pomeroy was preparing to
run for New Castle County Council president, but he quickly switched
to the legislative contest. Pomeroy has more than a passing interest
in this seat. It was held from 1980 to 1992 by Ada Leigh Soles, and
while she is a Democrat, she is also his mother-in-law.
As on the Democratic side,
Pomeroy's candidacy means more to his party than an effort to retain
a House seat. The Republicans need a farm team. They have watched
the Democrats put what could be a new generation of governors and
members of Congress in place with officeholders like Lt. Gov. John
C. Carney Jr., Treasurer Jack A. Markell and New Castle County
Council President Christopher A. Coons. The Republicans have yet to
In sum, each party is
looking at its candidate and seeing resurgence. This is the reason
Castle brought Pomeroy to present to the Republicans' Lincoln Day
dinner earlier this month. This is the reason Minner hosted a
breakfast Thursday to encourage about 60 invitees, almost all of
them women, to join "Women for Schooley" and to volunteer,
contribute and raise money for the candidate.
Further fueling this race, a
number of people in politics have a personal attachment to the
district and do not want their candidate to lose. Markell, who was
responsible for recruiting Schooley, grew up there and his parents
still live there. Mary Margaret Williams, the House Democrats'
administrative assistant, used to be on the Newark City Council.
Priscilla B. Rakestraw, the Republican national committeewoman, got
her start in politics there.
Of course, Ada Leigh Soles
still is there, and so is her husband James R. Soles, a University
of Delaware professor emeritus of political science and a
With the candidates in
place, now comes the nitty-gritty of choosing up sides, which is not
as easy as it would seem. Ada Leigh and Jim Soles used to think they
would be helping Schooley, but family is family and they are with
It was also a dilemma for
former state Rep. Jane P. Maroney, a Republican who represented a
Brandywine Hundred district from 1978 to 1998. Heedless of party
affiliation, Maroney showed up at the "Women for Schooley"
breakfast, making a choice that others no doubt will have to make,
going one way or the other.
"Terry and I have worked
together on dozens and dozens and dozens of issues," Maroney said.
"I just learned her opponent is Ada Leigh's son-in-law. But I can't
let that stand in the way."
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