Chip Flowers: It Ain't Over Until It's Over. Is it Over?
Two Fridays ago, when state Treasurer Chip Flowers tearfully announced his withdrawal from the race for that office, it was presumed he would promptly submit the paperwork with the state Election Commissioner's office to formalize his withdrawal.
It didn't happen. Finally, belatedly, Flowers submitted a withdrawal form late last week, but with an effective date of this Thursday, August 28th at 4 p.m. But it doesn't end there.
Now state Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove tells me Flowers has indicated he might postdate his official withdrawal even further, coming uncomfortably close to the Delaware Primary election, Tuesday, September 9th.
When I asked Manlove if she felt Flowers was holding the election commission hostage, she agreed: "I do feel like we're being held hostage, but worse than that, I feel it impacts the transparency of the process and it's something I'm proud of... how transparent Delaware elections are..."
So to repeat, at this point in time, Flowers technically remains a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state Treasurer.
Why should it matter?
Manlove says elections officials decided it would be prudent to alter the ballots to avoid any confusion. But it would be a laborious process: Securing each of the 900 voting machines; removing the screws from the transparent covering over the ballots; carefully placing stickers over the names in such a way that the voting buttons would be immobilized, then reattaching the covers. Tedious & time-consuming.
But election officials can't begin that process until the effective date for Flowers' withdrawal, and that keeps moving forward.
Flowers views all this much differently. In a statement, Flowers tells WDEL News it's highly inappropriate for an ostensibly neutral Elections Commissioner to offer public comment: "The Flowers campaign continues to work with federal and local authorities relating to this matter and will provide no further comment. We believe it is highly inappropriate for an unbiased elections commissioner to give public comment on this matter."
So what's Flowers up to? Perhaps in Flowers' world, it's a final opportunity to tweak the Delaware Democratic Party "establishment", of which he perceives Manlove to be a tool. Perhaps he believes the ensuing days will deliver him some form of vindication, for example, if Dover Police were to lift the cloud of any formal accusations against him from one Erika Benner. Indeed, Manlove says Flowers told her last week that he was postponing the date of his formal withdrawal to "clear his name". (That ignores the point that politically, the single most tangible thing corroding his reputation is that priceless photo of him at a New England Patriots football game he denied ever attending. Flowers continues to maintain he didn't realize Erika Benner had purchased the football tickets with her state-issued, credit card. The he-said, she-said harassment complaints look more like the result of a personal spat following a relationship.)
Or more conspiratorially Machiavellian - and deliciously subversive - maybe Flowers won't "get around" to formally withdrawing at all before the Delaware primary. The election commission, in turn, couldn't "fix" the ballots; it couldn't even post cards inside the voting booths to remind voters that there was no longer any race for the Democratic nomination for state Treasurer. And in a dream as fleeting as one of those exotic flowers (including the so-called Corpse Flower) which opens up & blooms for a single day, Flowers actually wins the primary.
Posted at 6:36am on August 26, 2014 by Allan Loudell
I believe Flowers is still running, despite his tearful "withdrawal". I swear I've seen a couple of new Flowers election signs pop up along my commute AFTER the withdrawal. Yes, maybe I'm just noticing them more now because of the situation - I admit that. But I really don't remember them before this week.
I think he's trying to win it anyway, to prove the "establishment" wrong... "See? You've tried to get rid of me, and I tried to walk away. But the people of Delaware have spoken, and they still believe in me. Although I planned to leave the public eye, I cannot ignore the voice of the people, and I will continue my campaign after all."
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 11:03am
Not beyond the realm of plausibility, Shawn.
He's enough of an unconventional politician that anything's possible.
But one wonders: Does Flowers truly still want to leave Delaware for Massachusetts - newly married and a fresh start - meaning he'd win the primary and the general, and just stick it to everyone by truly resigning? Or would he STAY in office despite his earlier protestations that he doesn't have a political future in Delaware, because the cloud created by Erika Benner would forever frustrate his political ambitions in Delaware? (Of course, this assumes that the Republican nominee could not beat Flowers in the general. One assumes Mr. Simpler could give Mr. Flowers a great run for his money!)
More tantalizingly (and we're advancing several chess moves ahead here): Take a look at the face of Treasurer Flowers' future bride from that public appearance two Fridays ago. She seems to be sharing his pain. So if our speculation above is even remotely correct, did Flowers share with his significant other his Machiavellian plan? Or did he not even dare suggest it to his future bride?
Here's another scenario (and perhaps more grounded in reality): I think most of us who've had dealings with Treasurer Flowers would regard him as impulsive, and certainly with more than the average politician's share of ego. Perhaps, two Fridays ago, Flowers had every intention of getting out of the race. Perhaps the thought of resettling in Massachusetts with his new bride was - and is - very appealing. But, confronted with the absolute finality of submitting a formal statement of withdrawal; and perhaps drawing energy from his remaining circle of fervent loyalists (Check out the Delaware Way blog), plus the desire to "get back" at those establishment types whom Flowers believes have unjustifiably wronged him, Flowers just can't take that final step. And the idea of embarrassing those establishment Democrats is just too intoxicating... Plus, in a small turnout Democratic primary, anything's possible!
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Aug 27, 2014 8:08am
Sadly there will be fools who will vote for him. Hopefully in November Ken Simpler wins, problem solved.
Thu, Aug 28, 2014 4:44am
Time for a music break:
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