Delaware Political Weekly: May 19-25, 2012

Filed in National by on May 25, 2012

1. Booth vs. Bodie In Sussex

So, in the 19th Senate District, you’ve got one of Delaware’s most blatant double-dippers, right up/down there with DeLuca, IMHO, vs. one of Delaware’s most flamboyant would-be politicos. In a rematch of a primary so close that Bodie reportedly muttered to himself, “I shaved my legs for THIS?”  That’s right, a razor-thin margin. Perhaps decided by a brother every bit as, um, eccentric as Bodie himself. Bodie attributed his loss to, well, here’s the quote from the News-Journal:

“I think God was honored in this entire campaign and he has authority as to who is the leader and who isn’t the leader, and now we know his will,” Bodenweiser said.

Turns out God had the double-dipper in the Angels’ betting pool. And, since He’s, you know, God, He had to have known about Booth’s double-dipping deal with Sussex Tech, even though Booth kept it from the public until after the primary, as did Sussex Tech. FWIW, Booth’s position: Community-Business and Industry Liaison. His qualifications? Uh, does formerly running a dry cleaning business count? The salary?: $60K plus $16K in bennies. A disgrace, and it should be the centerpiece of a campaign by a D. Oh, did I mention that Booth ran unopposed in the 2010 general election? Which is why he ‘fessed up to the Sussex Tech job in October instead of waiting until after the General Election.

Those new to our blog may wonder, “Who is Bodie?” An interesting question. Real name: Eric Bodenweiser. Here’s what his brother wrote about him in 2010 (Warning: Head Might Explode). He loves him some Jeff Christopher, and he talks about it in his own words here. He describes himself as a 9-12 Patriot and a Tea Party member.  And, he’s been photographed wearing high heels.

Back to the election. In 2009, after Sen. Thurman ‘Uncle Thurm’ Adams died, a special election was held to name his successor. The R leadership chose Booth, and what passes for the D leadership initially chose…someone other than Uncle Thurm’s daughter, Polly Mervine. Political machinations ensued, the D candidate dropped out, paving the way for Polly Mervine to get  skunked by Joe Booth. In 2010, the D’s ran…nobody against Booth. Not a nobody. Nobody. With Booth and Bodie now poised for a political posedown, will the Sussex D’s deign to run someone? A conservadem could win since the R primary promises to be brutal, really brutal. After all, the seat was held by a conservadem for decades, and the registration (which I grant you can be quite deceiving), is 11,301 D; 10,369 R; and 6023 I. And this promises to be such a bitter primary that there will be no R party unity following it. In fact, the D’s have a great chance to form a coalition with the R primary loser, assuming it’s Booth. It would be political malpractice for the D’s not to field a credible alternative. Of course, that’s what they did/didn’t do in 2010.

2. Cynical Gambit Pays Off. Must Say I’m Impressed.

Looks like McDowell and Williams didn’t go rogue after all. The Joint Finance Committee voted yesterday to approve a 1% pay increase for state employees and retirees. The Markell Administration was not thrilled. But the Governor sure as bleep ain’t vetoing the budget over it. So, while there were clearly political motivations involved in the way this all went down, as there always are,  I salute all involved. I now have to assume that Gilligan and DeLuca were aware of this, and that it was the Governor and his staff (and me) who got played. Well played, everyone. And, yes, I get a 1% pension increase as well, so call me a hypocrite. I’ll cry all the way to the bank.

3.  Carper Gets New Challenger–And He SPEAKS!

Independent Alex Pires, owner of the Bottle and Cork in Dewey.

The Bad News: Announced on Fox News

The Good News: He’s going after Carper for his banking industry ties, and he’s not afraid to hit hard:

“When people find out how dishonest the Democratic party is, and his work is, he’ll never get reelected,” Pires said. “He’s done. He’s finished. Carper, if you’re out there listening, your 36 years of taking money from poor people and living off the fat of the working class man, is done. I am the working class guy. I’m going to mop him up. I’m serious beyond serious.”

Memo to Alex Pires: If you want to win, you’re gonna need Democrats, LOTS of Democrats. Many D’s still identify with the Party, but not the Carper Corporate subsidiary it’s become in Delaware and elsewhere. You don’t want to alienate prospective supporters like me by an ad hominem blast at our party. You can blast where the Party has gone w/o blasting the traditional values of the Party, which many of us want to see the Party return to. Tone it down just a bit, you want to be seen as a credible alternative to Carper. Don’t let them define you as a fringe guy before you get to define yourself. Utilize outlets other than Fox News and WGMD. Unless  you truly are a fringe R masquerading as an independent, you should make yourself available across the entire range of the political spectrum. Believe me, many of us here at DL have written extensively about the ethical bankruptcy of Carper and his ilk,  we’ve been screaming for a populist alternative, and would be delighted to see you emerge as that alternative.

It’s your choice: You can run a serious campaign where you might have a real chance of winning, or you can grandstand. Hey, successful candidates have been known to grandstand as well. But, you do need to be credible. The rote response from Carper’s campaign manager indicates the classic dismissiveness that has become Carper’s stock-in-trade. I, for one, am delighted that you’re in the race, please just make this a viable candidacy and not a sideshow.

4. Bye, Bye, Beatty.

Wow, just wow. A week ago, I envisioned perhaps an enjoyable divertissement that a prospective Doug Beatty candidacy might offer. Uh, never mind. Blustering, bullying, and threatening are the opposite of proven vote-getting techniques, and when you add in some of the most solipsistic and unhinged-from-reality screeds ever seen on this blog, and yes, that’s saying something, I can only say ‘good riddance’.

5.  Tom Gordon Files.

While DL has covered this story extensively, and commenters continue to have their say, I’ll just focus on one possible political implication that has not yet been addressed, or, at least, I have not seen  addressed. I now think that you will see more primaries for County Council as a result of this filing. Clark-backed candidates vs. Gordon-backed candidates. “Whose side are you on?” Heard it here first.

6. Cloutier Files in 5th SD.

So now we have a rematch in a competitive district between incumbent R State Senator Cathy Cloutier and D challenger Chris Counihan. A reliable source has told me that a Libertarian has also filed, but that name has yet to appear on the Elections website. Perhaps DOE might at least have a third line for, you know, third party candidates? Brandywine Hundred, especially east of Route 202, has trended significantly more D than in the past. Definitely a race to watch this fall.

7. Alarm-ing Candidate in the 6th RD.

Eric Taylor, owner of Prevent Alarm Company, has filed as an R to challenge incumbent Debra Heffernan in the 6th RD. This district is marginally more R than it was in 2010, so it could be a competitive district, depending on the quality of Taylor’s campaign and candidacy. It’s still a swing-D district.

8. Miro Files in the 22nd.

Newsworthy only because it poses the question, “Will Manolakos primary Miro?” Incumbent R representatives Joseph Miro and Nick Manolakos were gerrymandered into the same district during reapportionment. Although D David Ellis has filed, this is an overwhelmingly R district. If there’s a primary, it will, for all intents and purposes, be the General.

9. Filings, We Have Filings!

R Sen. Dori Connor, 12th SD, sets up an intriguing race with Nicole Poore; incumbent D Rep. Quin Johnson, 8th RD; incumbent D County Councilman William Bell, 12th District; incumbent D Wilmington City Councilman Ernest ‘Trippi’ Congo, 2nd District; D Sherry Dorsey-Walker, 6th Wilmington Councilmanic District, an open seat as incumbent Kevin Kelley is running for mayor; incumbent D Wilmington Council At-Large Loretta WalshR Patrick Boyle, for Kent County Comptroller.

That’s it for this week. (Isn’t this enough?)  What’d I miss, and whaddayathink?

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  1. JJ says:

    Booth was one of the best, promising legislators down there until he became a ‘double dipper.’ The D’s don’t care but the R’s really do on this issue. Lost credibility… But Bodenweiser is a right wing nut. Booth is better on all counts, but with crazy primaries, who knows the outcome………..??

  2. SussexWatcher says:

    Pires is formidable because 1. He’s got an ego the size of Montana, and 2. He’s richer than fuckity fuck. He’ll put a ton of his own cash against Carper. Don’t discount the WGMD influence, either – they hate Carper, and Pires practically owns the station given the shitload of ad dollars he gives them for all his businesses. Frankly, I think he’s a douchebag. But he’s going to make a difference.

  3. Jason330 says:

    Pires’ “one term only” pledge reveals that he is not a serious candidate. The Senate doesn’t work that way.

  4. As we’ve learned, ‘pledges’ and ‘honoring pledges’ are two different things politically.

    I just want to know if he’s a real populist or a Ron Paul populist.

  5. Jason330 says:

    I like this ballsy approach: “Carper, if you’re out there listening, your 36 years of taking money from poor people and living off the fat of the working class man, is done.”

    But you are right, he is going to have to focus in bashing Carper – not Democrats. Showing that Caper has not been true to the working class ideals of the Democratic Party would be good.

  6. walt says:

    Put on the gloves and have at it, boys!

  7. Delaware Dem says:

    Pires running actually makes Carper more likely to win, if he already wasn’t a mortal lock against Wade. Because now Pires is going to split the conservative angry vote. And given his disdain for Democrats noted in his statement, I don’t think many Dems will vote for him. I won’t. But even if some did, what we are looking at is a 45% Carper, 30% Pires, 25% Wade race, at best.

    If Pires were smart, he’d run in the Republican primary and then pivot to the center in the general as an independent businessman. But he already blew that opportunity.

  8. Geezer says:

    “He’s going to make a difference.”

    No, he won’t. He won’t get the Democrats because he insults them, and he won’t get Delaware conservatives on board with a haircut like that. He won’t even get as many votes as Kevin Wade.

    The only difference between Alex Pires and Rose Izzo is the amount they have to spend on their vanity candidacies.

  9. SussexWatcher says:

    He doesn’t have to get as many votes as Wade to make a difference.

  10. SussexAnon says:

    Pires is going to have to spend a lot of money to do 3 things Carper won’t. 1. get on the ballot (unless things have changed and he is Wolfies IPOD candidate) 2. get name recognition. He isn’t a household name. Not yet anyway. 3. Get a campaign aparatus to do the aforementioned and more. Dumping on Democrats is going to limit his field to Indies and Rs. And lets face it, Indies are pretty useless.

    “Working class guys” don’t own a bank, 2 bars/nightclubs, is a high powered DC attorney and drive around in a $60k Porsche with a single digit lic. plate.

    As for taking from the poor, as a high powered attorney in DC he sued on behalf of black farmers and won, then didnt’ pay what he promised them.

    There is also the contentious relationship he has with the town of Dewey, and several contractors that he has had some “problems” with.

    Anyone know if the bank he owns is the one that got fined 15 yrs ago for charging higher fees and intrest rates to minorities?
    I think he owns Community Bank and County Bank got fined? I might have those 2 confused.

  11. Geezer says:

    SW: What “difference” do you think he’ll make if he gets fewer votes than Wade?

  12. The Truth says:

    Well from the sounds of it, Pires seems like an R. He announced his campaign on Fox News and WGMD. Bashed the Democrats calling them crooks. Then, what is most shocking to me, he advocated that if people don’t want to vote for him, that they should vote for Wade instead. With his Sussex background and this statement, he may take votes away from Wade making Carper’s path a lot easier.

    Also, serious candidates don’t announce that they’re only running for one term. What can a person in the Senate do with one term? Especially since everything in Washington is based on seniority. Also, the hair. Even serious people aren’t taken seriously when they have hair like that……. Jerry Northington

    Another thing thats weird. I’ve disagreed with Carper numerous time, some of those times to his face. Until Pires provides some proof, I can’t agree with calling Carper an “evil crook”, and the people in DE don’t seem to view him as that either. Sure he takes campaign checks from banks. So does the President. And yeah, he’s a DINO.

    But would anyone accuse Carper of being lazy, sitting at home, and only working when the Senate is in session? God no!

    Also, if I’m running against Carper, I may attack him with how long he’s served, but I’m not going to say that he’s never done anything other than be a politician. Thats the exact moment when the Carper Machine lines up photos of Captain Carper as a figher pilot in Vietnam and then flying missions over Russia during the Cold War. Good luck with that.

    I don’t think this Pires guy knows what he’s talking about. Sad that real candidates aren’t challenging Carper with a legit democratic message. Jason……

  13. SussexWatcher says:

    He could pull enough away from either to change the outcome. Just look at this out of the D and R construct. He’s going to be blanketing the state with signs, ads, billboards, etc., and will have huge name recog by November. He also won’t have the Republican taint. Name rec counts for a lot, especially in a year when most attention is going to be paid to the White House. Carper, Castle, Roth kept on winning primarily because people knew who they were, not necessarily because folks like them. (What’s likeable about Tom Carper?) If Pires hires a good strategist and plays his cards carefully, he could even win this thing.

  14. The Truth says:

    You contradict yourself SW. How will Pires get name recognition if everyone is paying attention to the presidential race? The fact that theres a primary now means that Carper gets to run a primary campaign against the invisible man for months. Running TV ads, doing mail, and probably having the Vice Pres. stop by Wilmington to stump for him while he’s on the trail in PA.

    Meanwhile, Pires can’t get his signs or billboards up until after the September primary. That gives him a little over a month to become a houshold name to the level that Carper is. This is why its tough for unknowns to run in Presidential years against incumbants in DE.

    And “Whats likeable about Tom Carper?”…. I don’t know, ask the hundreds of thousands of Delawareans who’ve been voting for him since the 1970s.

    If you are going to beat an incumbant you have to be honest about their strengths, weaknesses, and who they are. Only then will you be able to truely challenge them. I think Sun Tzu said that. :)

  15. John Manifold says:

    Joe McInerney with a ponytail. Oppo research on Pires will be like deer-hunting on opening day.

  16. SussexWatcher says:

    You can put up yard signs on private propery, not in the ROW, and billboards up any time you want. The 30-day thing only applies to the safe zone beside roads.

    Attention is going to be paid to the issues on the national level. Voters here in Delaware aren’t going to give two figs about Carper v Pires v Wade on specific topics. Name rec will win the day, as it always does in local elections barring some sort of scandal.

    I have never met anyone who was really gung ho about Tom Carper. He’s kind of a nice boring guy, well spoken and friendly, who projects comfortability. Milquetoast in the Carney vein. Good enough. He’s won not because of huge fans, but because his opponents have sucked ass.

  17. SussexAnon says:

    WGMD.com has a Pires interview up on their page.

  18. anon says:

    With all due respect, Booth was on the Indian River School Board from 2000-2007, he was the 3 time Mayor of Georgetown, and he was on the Georgetown Town Council. I think that would qualify him to be the liaison between Sussex Tech and the Georgetown business community. And, as I said before, the Sussex Tech Board did not vote on the hiree until the night before the primary, I’m not sure Booth had any obligation to announce that he interviewed for a job(with other candidates) two weeks earlier.

  19. SussexAnon says:

    For you “anyone but Carper” people out there, I suggest you listen to the entire 40 min. WGMD appearance.

  20. Steve Newton says:

    ES Re; 5th District–yes the Libertarian Party is running Scott Gesty. I can’t swear to you that he has actually been filed yet. The convention was last week, and unlike the bigger parties these have to be worked through one at a time. But he will be filed by the end of next week. Even then, you are right, I will be interested to see if there is actually a line where he appears.

    To the extent that anybody’s interested, I did a post on him this week

    http://delawarelibertarian.blogspot.com/2012/05/libertarian-scott-gesty-to-challenge.html

    I also did a post on the fact that I noticed that in 2008 the law firm Young-Conaway donated exactly the same amount to Cloutier and Counihan, and have since found out that they did the same with Bryon Short and his opponent (Travis, I think) in the House race in that area.

    http://delawarelibertarian.blogspot.com/2012/05/delaware-way-this-is-called-keeping.html

    Now that’s what you call the Delaware Way.

  21. SussexAnon says:

    The Booth hiring is a prime example of the need for legislation that bars elected officials from taking state jobs. The appearance of impropriety is so obvious to most.

    “Gee, Senator, er, Mr. Booth, why should I hire you? I mean its not like there might be some legislation that the Tech school program might need your support at Leg. Hall.”

  22. Delaware Dem says:

    Steve, a lot of businesses and law firms do that, hedging their bets. Surely, they don’t want to bet on the wrong horse.

  23. Steve Newton says:

    I realize it happens, but it does sort of reduce everybody to a political whore who takes the money that comes from no other cause but “protect us” if it ever comes up, doesn’t it?

    I can see the ad now: “We’re Young-Conaway and we don’t give a shit who you vote for because we’ve already paid off both candidates.”

    Or, may I will change my ways and STF up if they just send the Libertarian candidates their checks.

  24. Delaware Dem says:

    Well, I look at it differently. In my mind, by giving to both major parties or both major candidates, the business is basically declaring its neutrality in the partisan warfare and expects to work with whomever is elected.

    The “whore” issue comes more into focus if a business only supported one party or one candidate, and then that candidate wins. One would expect that candidate to be truly beholden to that business because that business could say, but for its money, the candidate would not have been elected.

  25. Joe Cass says:

    yeah. Young-Conaway put their finances behind Markell while giving lip service to the trade unions. Then Young-Conaway fucked us over in the same fine spirit of the U of D.
    Follow the money.

  26. Steve Newton says:

    Sorry, don’t buy that one, DD. You can just as easily declare neutrality by giving nothing to anybody.

    In 2010 Young Conaway spent $29,000 “declaring its neutrality” from the political process.

  27. cassandra m says:

    What business writes a check (from overhead no less) without expecting some benefit? They write those checks to be certain to curry favor no matter who is in office. The extreme version of this was Bechtel — who used to (not sure any more) have a set of D and R senior executives that they would rearrange and trot out depending upon what party was in power.

  28. Steve Newton says:

    So the sense I’m getting from all this is that you folks are just fine with the idea, in Delaware, with businesses routinely using PACs to write checks for all major candidates in elections.

    Just let me know if I’ve got that wrong.

  29. Delaware Dem says:

    I am not just fine with it. But in a world where Super PACs are raising untold and undisclosed billions and supporting Republicans, a situation where a company giving equal amounts to both candidates and these contributions are disclosed is not as bad as other far worse situations.

    And if I am not mistaken, isn’t the Libertarian Party very supportive of Citizens United? Economic freedom and money is speech, and all that?

  30. Steve Newton says:

    I honestly don’t know what the National LP said about that, because I don’t really care. I’ve never been a great believer in either corporate personhood or that anonymous speech (assuming money is speech) is to be protected. I tend to believe in disclosure.

    But you’re making a relativistic argument here–or offering an equivalency that I don’t think is valid.

    The largest single spender of political PAC money in Delaware elections (not counting US House and Senate) over the past five years has arguably been DSEA, and they’ve given with equal regularity to anybody they thought would take their side–GOP or Democrat. But I haven’t been able to find a single instance of them not picking one candidate in a race. It could be there, I haven’t finished going over the records of their 5 or 6 PACs. But I haven’t seen it.

    Then in the last month the 501c4 Voices 4 Delaware Education which became so controversial is tied, not specifically to GOPers, but to education reform, and that leads toward leaders of both Dems and GOPers in Delaware.

    So I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there is massive 501c4 spending here in the Presidential election, but I can’t see any reason why there would be, since nobody expects Mitt Romney to get any closer in DE than 7-10%.

  31. Geezer says:

    “If Pires hires a good strategist and plays his cards carefully, he could even win this thing.”

    A good strategist would tell him to cut his hair and STFU, neither of which is going to happen. He’ll get the Ross Perot voters, maybe, but only if he cuts his hair.

  32. Geezer says:

    @Steve Newton: I agree with you, but unfortunately it’s a bald tire of an issue with most voters — no traction.

    One thing to note is that most businesses do play favorites. Those that give to both parties are usually companies, like law firms, that do a lot of business with government. (At the NCCo level, you see the same behavior from firms that spend a lot of time in the land-use office — engineering firms, for example — in addition to the lawyers).

    My question would be, why those two legislative races? What’s going on in that area that leads Young Conaway to believe it needs friends in northeastern NCCo?

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