WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Delaware Dem legislators choose their leaders

Now we know Bob Gilligan's successor:

During closed-door meetings (so much for sunshine and transparency!), Democratic lawmakers in the lower legislative chamber chose Pete Schwartzkopf, the House majority leader from Rehoboth Beach, to be the new House Speaker. (Technically, the entire House must vote on House Speaker in January, but that's a fait accompli given the Democratic majority and professed unity.)

So the downstate Democratic contender (Schwartzkopf) prevailed over the the upstate Democratic candidate for House Speaker (Helene Keeley). By the way, Schwartzkopf already draws one state pension from his days as a state trooper.

From a strictly media access point of view, I have generally found it easy to set up interviews with both Schwartzkopf and Keeley.

Indeed, you can hear my interview with presumptive incoming House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf...

Audio Here

House Democrats chose Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) to be House majority leader, moving up from majority whip.

And the Dems tapped John Viola (D-Newark area) to be majority whip. Given Viola's employment in the state labor department, his elevation may bring additional scrutiny from good government groups and media. Remember Tony DeLuca? Also, Viola is the dad to newly-elected State Representative Andria Bennett, who won the election for the seat previously occupied by her twice-DUI-challenged husband, Brad. (Brad Bennett's late father, Ed Bennett, once occupied that seat!) Viola has drawn fire for not being a particularly distinguished, or imaginative, state lawmaker.

On the Senate side, Democrats chose Patti Blevens to be the next Senate President Pro-Tem, Tony DeLuca. Unlike on the House side, Blevins' elevation was a given. (For a variety or reasons, Blevins has earned the disdain of our talk show hosts!) The full Senate must confirm Blevins, but again, that's a mere formality.

Senate Dems tapped David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) as Senate majority leader, and Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) to continue as Senate majority whip.

Next week, Republican lawmakers will pick their legislative leaders.

Posted at 6:47am on November 21, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 8:03am
The best House Speaker was Terry Spence. Although a Republican, he never showed biases or played favorites. Whether you were a Democrat or Republican, Spence almost always let a bill come to the floor based on its merits. Ditto with committee assignments. Spence earned a reputation as fair and equitable with assignments, irrespective of political party. In today's super-partisan environment, it would be hard to imagine any legislator being as objective and fair as Terry Spence.

By the way, with Schwartzkopf as the new speaker, it's almost certain there will be a fourth casino built downstate at Rehoboth Beach.

Allan Loudell
Wed, Nov 21, 2012 9:22am
Yes, teatime, Terry Spence was that (now) rare breed of a pro-labor Republican.

Difficult to believe now, but some observers once saw him as a potential Republican Governor.

Allan Loudell

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 12:34pm
I agree with the consensus. Spence was a great guy.

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 12:47pm
I expect a minor blip of controversy over Keeley's loss though. Such controversy should be dropped because what is done is done. To continue that someone went back on their word ... well, a lot of us have to do that at times....

The rule that should be followed here is whether any discussion about such a topic changes anything. If it doesn't, drop it.

Which is exactly why, there needs to be privacy in the caucus decision-making process. If you made the meetings open, then the intrigue that is necessary would take place outside: phone calls or personal meetings. We would probably get poorer decisions. For there is something almost magical that happens when you get a group together and everyone in the openness of the group, can express frustrations, hopes, dreams, and the flaky shallowness of others can be seen in front of you first-hand. That is when you get solid decisions. Making such give-and-take public, would only muffle that give-and-take, and actually give an edge to those who use innuendo and personal mischaracterizations to achieve their ends.

Bottom line, the caucus meeting IS open. It is open to all who "need to know" what goes on. The only people who could actually be miffed are the Republicans who wouldn't get an inside showing of what goes on inside their opponent's party...

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 1:33pm

Just out of curiosity, does anybody know who is currently the longest serving state legislator?

My guess would be Dave McBride or Harris McDowell, but I don't really know.

Allan Loudell
Wed, Nov 21, 2012 2:21pm
Harris B. McDowell III (1976)

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 11:01pm
So Gilligan's Island is now Schwartzkopf's Platoon!

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 1:28am
Does anybody know if Pete Schwartzkopf is related to General Norman Schwartzkopf?

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 1:48pm
Mr Pizza; I was told "no, it wasn't" back in 2002, when he primaried Ms. "The Price is Right" . That may have changed since then... lol..

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