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DELAWARE

Political opponents smooth over differences

GEORGETOWN, Del. -- Some reveling in victory, others reeling over defeat, Delaware politicians gathered in this rural crossroads to bury the hatchet.

In a time-honored tradition, winners and losers assembled Thursday in the aftermath of this week's election for Return Day, an opportunity to demonstrate good will and unity and to put the sometimes harsh rhetoric of campaigning behind them.

Cold temperatures and a steady downpour did not deter thousands of people from descending on Georgetown for what is thought to be the only event of its kind in the country.

Honorary grand marshal Russell McCabe, outreach coordinator for the Delaware Public Archives, said he would not let the weather stop him.

"I grew up in Georgetown, so Return Day is kind of like Christmas for somebody like myself," he said. "I really don't think that I've missed one in my lifetime."

The event is such an important tradition in Georgetown that testimony in a high-profile shareholder lawsuit in Chancery Court over the size of the severance package of former Walt Disney Co. president Michael Ovitz was canceled for the day.

As usual, the highlights Thursday included a parade of carriages and convertibles in which winners and losers rode together.

Governor Ruth Ann Minner sat atop the first carriage, smiling and waving. Her unsuccessful challengers, Republican Bill Lee and Independent-Libertarian Frank Infante, were relegated to the rumble seat of Minner's carriage, facing backward.

The seating arrangement wasn't surprising, given a contentious gubernatorial campaign that featured GOP ads accusing Minner of "arrogance and incompetence."

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