Elder Biden made comeback; now it’s his son’s turn

August 27, 2013

In 1988, following a potentially deadly brain aneurysm, Sen. Joe Biden made his first public appearance at the Sussex County Jamboree, a Democratic Party picnic held annually at Cape Henlopen State Park.

Despite the serious health scare, Biden made a full recovery and went on to a long career as senator and finally vice president. He continues to make noise about running for president in 2016.

At Saturday’s Jamboree, the health of another Biden - the vice president’s son, Delaware’s Attorney General Beau Biden - was uppermost in the minds of many attendees. Speaker after speaker wished him well. Speaker after speaker gave no clue about the nature of his illness, though it had been announced earlier that he had undergone a “successful procedure” at a prominent cancer center in Houston, Texas. (NBC News reported four days ago that it was a brain biopsy.)

Molly Magarik, Biden’s political director, said, “Unfortunately, he’s not able to be here today, but wanted me to let you all know he is so grateful, as is his family, for all of the wonderful support, love, cards, prayers, everything that you’ve done.”

She described Biden as “anxious to get back to work” and said he “looks forward to being here next year.”

‘I Have a Dream’ recalled

The other major theme of the day, other than Biden’s health, was the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which is remembered mostly for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The anniversary march took place the same day as the Jamboree.

Mitch Crane, chairman of the Sussex County Democratic Committee and emcee for Saturday’s event, recalled how as a 16-year-old in West Chester, Pa., he had helped organize buses to the historic march.

Others referred to the work that remains to be done to fulfill King’s dream, but no one spoke more eloquently than Sen. Chris Coons.

Vice President Biden, back when he was running for senator against Sen. J. Caleb Boggs 1972, made a name for himself as the most powerful political orator in the state. He remains a strong Democratic voice today, but if had to pick the best political speaker in Delaware today, I’d pick Coons.

Running late after attending an upstate event and hitting traffic, Coons coolly launched into his speech, first thanking Sen. Tom Carper for continuing to speak to allow time for him to arrive.

“The filibuster is alive and well,” he joked.

Coons talked about the March on Washington, the goals of which remain unfinished 50 years later. He talked about recently seeing the movie “42” - the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball - with his sons.

He then dove into this sentence: “It was hard for them to believe that even without a law prescribing that baseball - Major League Baseball - would be whites only, that the social and cultural practices that lay on top of the legal underpinnings of American apartheid, were alive and well when GIs who had fought fascism overseas came home, and discovered yet again that they had to fight for freedom in the nation they had served.”

That’s a mouthful and a complicated one at that. But it was delivered so smoothly - without benefit, of course, of notes or Teleprompter - that it was easy to grasp and drew heavy applause.

At the end of his talk, he received a standing ovation. You’d think he was a rock star.

Candidates introduced

A couple of months back, Mitch Crane said recruiting candidates for the 2014 election was his top priority as Democratic Committee chairman. Some candidates would be announced this summer, he said, with more to begin rolling out their campaigns by the end of the year.

On Saturday, Crane made good on his promise, announcing candidates at the Jamboree. The following candidates have not officially filed to run for office - it’s too early for that - but they have filed to form finance committees, which means they can start raising money for their campaigns.

They are:

• Claire Snyder-Hall, a Rehoboth Beach writer and political activist, Senate District Six seat, now held by Sen. Ernie Lopez.

• Gary Wolfe of Milford, who last year challenged Sam Wilson for the District 2 Sussex County Council seat; Senate District 18 seat, now held by Sen. F. Gary Simpson.

• Peg Green, recording secretary for the Sussex County Democratic Committee, Representative District 35 seat, now held by Rep. David L. Wilson of Bridgeville.

• Paulette Rappa, a longtime educator, Representative District 37 seat, now held by Rep. Ruth Briggs-King.

• Shirley Price, District 4 Sussex County Council seat, now held by Councilman George Cole.

• Greg Fuller, an Army veteran and human services professional, running for Register of Wills, now held by Cynthia Green.

  • A number of accomplished writers will be appearing in the Politics column every Tuesday on a rotating basis to explore the dynamic world of politics at the local, county, state, national and world levels.

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