State House, Senate Dems pick leaders

By Frank Gerace 3:26am, November 21, 2012 - Updated 11:00am, November 21, 2012
Rehoboth Beach Democrat Pete Schwartzkopf has been picked by his fellow Democrats to be state House Speaker for the legislative session that begins January 8th.

Schwartzkopf has been Majority Leader the past 4 years, and tells WDEL News the top priority for the General Assembly is likely to be whether to let some tax laws expire.

"In 2009, when we had the 800-plus million-dollar deficit, we cut the budget, we a couple hundred million dollars in fees and taxes, and we sunsetted some of the taxes, and we have to revisit them this year."

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If he's confirmed by the full House, Schwartzkopf, a former state trooper, will succeed Bob Gilligan, who recently retired.

House Democrats also picked Valerie Longhurst of Bear to serve as Majority Leader and John Viola of Newark to be Majority Whip.

House Democratic Caucus members made the selections at a closed-door meeting in Dover Tuesday night.

In the state Senate, Democrats chose Patti Blevins of Elsmere to be President Pro Tem, and New Castle-area Senator David McBride to succeed her as Majority Leader.

Blevins will have to be confirmed by the full Senate in January.

Margaret Rose Henry of Wilmington will continue as Majority Whip.

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