November 2, 2004


Former hostage: Governor insensitive (October 20, 2004, AP)

On July 12, prison counselor Cassandra Arnold was held hostage for nearly seven hours and sexually assaulted by a serial rapist before a prison guard shot the inmate to death.

Over the next couple of days, the traumatized counselor received an outpouring of support that included a flower basket from the prison warden and a basket of snacks and a card from the state corrections commissioner.

But the reaction from Gov. Ruth Ann Minner was different. She has not spoken to Arnold or her family, and in an interview two days after the attack, she said, "In prisons, you almost expect this to happen."

The remarks drew an angry response from Arnold and quickly became a central issue in the Delaware governor's race. Minner's Republican opponent, Bill Lee, said the comment is reason enough not to elect the Democrat to a second term.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 2, 2004 11:35 AM

Wow. Minner definitely qualifies for the Dukakis Award.

Posted by: at November 2, 2004 11:40 AM

Can't say I know anything about the other issues that might be confronting the voters in Delaware...but a supernaturally stupid eructation of this sort by any Governor of any state had better be the only blemish on his record.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at November 2, 2004 11:44 AM


Now you're just getting vocabulary happy.

Posted by: oj at November 2, 2004 11:51 AM

Well, I live in Delaware. My take is that Judge Lee will probably run behind President Bush. Minner is far from good, but Lee hasn't explained why he's better. If Lee is close, Bush probably wins Delaware and 40 other states and I break out the champagne.

Lee has been basically invisible during the campaign. He's a decent man and he was a good judge (most famous for presiding over a high-profile murder trial six years ago), but his issues are (1) the schools stink and I'll throw more money at them, (2) I'll enforce the environmental laws more strictly, and (3) I'll take some unspecified steps to bring more jobs to Delaware. Way down the list there's some inside-baseball talk about cutting the gross-receipts tax, which nobody who doesn't own a business has ever heard of. Maybe that flies here and maybe it doesn't, but it's not terribly compelling.

On the prison thing: The prison guards' union and most of the police unions support Lee, in part because of Minner saying idiotic things that no competent politician should have said. Lee is basically promising to hire a lot more guards and pay them better. It's little more than opportunism, not that there's anything wrong with that in politics. It's just not a big issue for most people, though.

Delaware's a weird state. Downstate (i.e., away from Wilmington), it's very socially conservative, and that's where the bulk of GOP strength is. Lee has done nothing to appeal to conservative voters and the NRA has endorsed Minner (who is from downstate herself). In the northern end, around Wilmington, heavily black and union, they'll vote for anybody with a D after his name; what few Republicans exist tend to be either alienated right wing nut jobs (like me) or straight-out liberals. We had a major gay rights bill that made it through the GOP-controlled House last session (died in the Dem Senate) because the Republicans from upstate pushed it through. Did wonders for GOP registration statewide -- the Dems now have an additional 10,000 voters. It's a little like the South was 25 years ago -- Reagan Democrats haven't become Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans haven't become Democrats. Yet.

Short story, we are fixing to get pounded severely today in the First State.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at November 2, 2004 12:45 PM

Insensitive, absolutely, but also completely correct.

If one is a prison guard, there's always the possibility of getting shivved, and if one is also female, of getting raped.
In some prisons, female guards actually have regular sex with powerful inmates, in order to get "protection" from the inmate gangs.

Stupid to say in public, however.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 2, 2004 1:25 PM