Thursday, July 24, 2008

Delaware Democratic Party Gets Mean--07/24/2008

The Delaware Democratic Party is sponsoring radio ads promoting John Carney’s candidacy for Governor. On the one hand, this makes some sense, as the state (and county) party endorsed John Carney (despite support for Markell from RDs including the 23rd). However, I have two objections with the party’s actions. First, I would prefer that our party’s resources be used against Republicans (and fusion candidates) and not against faithful Democratic candidates such as Jack Markell. Second, I would prefer that their ad was factual. The ad portrays Carney as the primary force behind the BlueWater Wind deal. It brings to mind the comment about the fellow who was born on third base thinking that he hit a triple. Carney eventually provided some support for the deal—he was in no way a leader in bringing the BWW deal to fruition.

Jack Markell is hosting a press conference at his Riverfront campaign office (920 S Justison, Wilmington, DE 19801) on Friday at 11am, to present his disappointment with the actions of the Delaware Democratic Party in directing resources against Democrats rather than Republicans.

If you agree with Jack that this is a poor use of Delaware Democratic money, and/or if you agree that the fact-checking in the ad is atrocious, and a dis-service to the Delaware voters and to the DelDems Party, then try to attend the press conference.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Progressive Update—07/21/2008—New Castle County

A meeting worth attending—This Tuesday, the 22nd, at 7pm, the New Castle County Council meets, at the City/County Building at 800 N French Street in Wilmington. You may want to be there.
Section H of the Agenda has two items of particular interest. There is a proposal for the council to pay or not pay the attorney fees incurred by Sherry Freebery. Why is this interesting? The fees are $3.7 million, and are claimed to be tied to Freebery’s defense against charges that she and Tom Gordon (more on this in a bit) ran county government ‘as a criminal enterprise and misusing county resources and personnel for their own political and personal benefit’. Several of the most serious charges were dropped against Freebery, but in the process she pleaded guilty to a felony of lying about having received a $2.3 million loan from (developer and) DuPont heir Lisa Dean Moseley.
An interesting twist in this case is whether (Republican) US Attorney Colm Connelly trumped up the charges against Sherry and Tom as part of the Justice Department witchhunt against Democrats. I have no idea about this. If true, then it seems like the US Justice Department should cover the legal fees. I don’t see why New Castle County taxpayers should have to foot the $3.7 million bill.
An attorney tasked by council to review the request has recommended against the county reimbursing the bill. Let’s hope that the council follows this recommendation.
The second item of interest is a proposal by six county council members (McClellan, Cartier, Hollins, Street, Tackett, and Tansey) that County Council President Paul Clark refrain from introducing and spearheading development legislation for the time being. Clark was criticized for sending an email out about development issues. The two criticisms on the email are that Paul sent it out with a electronic tag from his wife’s law firm (which represents developers), and that Paul sent it out to developers and did not include council members. Several council members are concerned with, if not the reality, at least with the appearance of undue pro-developer influence on Paul Clark and council.
This proposal has been criticized as political. It may be. It may instead be a good-faith attempt by council members to take a timeout and examine the system, to ensure both the reality and appearance of a level playing field between residents and developers. If you support this resolution, even if you cannot attend the meeting, please let your county council person know of your support.
I support the proposal, as a wonderful step towards good government, but not as harsh criticism of Paul Clark’s actions. I like Paul, and I feel that his heart has always been in the right place. However I am also a strong proponent of recusal—not voting on an issue where you have a conflict of interest (real or perceived). This helps strengthen the trust of your constituents. I think that council members are right to call for this timeout, to explore how to help strengthen the trust of county residents in their county government.
If you have a strong opinion on either/both of these issues, please attend the meeting (get there early), and sign up to speak on this issue.
Race #1—County Executive—Chris Coons is the current New Castle County Executive. He is running for re-election. His primary opponent is Tom Gordon (I told you I’d get back to him). Tom was the previous County Executive, who lost his bid for re-election due to the criminal indictment. Gordon eventually plea-bargained down to two misdemeanors. Gordon is a former police officer, and is popular amongst several unions. Coons has had to deal with difficult finance times. Gordon served when property values were rising and transfer taxes were rising—Coons suffered with the reverse situation. Gordon contorts the history to claim financial brilliance, when the facts are that he was at the right place at the right time, he enjoyed a stiff tailwind. Chris Coons has dealt very, very well with a stiff headwind. He has made necessary, but at times unpopular, budget cuts.
For this race, my decision is based on character. Chris Coons is someone I trust to lead the count for the next five years. Gordon is not, not even close in my book. I endorse Chris Coons for New Castle County Executive.
Race #2—County Council President—Paul Clark (yes, as discussed above) is running for re-election. This weekend we learned that local community activist Bill Dunn will be running against him in the primary. I have only recently been able to chat with Bill at length. As with several races this year, I find that both candidates have both strengths and weaknesses, and I haven’t yet selected one to endorse, I encourage you to learn about each, to choose whom you will support.
On that note, Newark’s UU church ( is hosting a candidate forum on Saturday August 23rd. We are inviting every candidate in a primary in September that affects Newark (Congress, Governor, Insurance Commissioner, County Executive, County Council President, 6th Senate District). Please mark your calendars to come to the forum, and tell your community association, book club, faith community, blog, etc).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Update--John Viola & Matt Denn--07/10/2008

As an update on the most recent posting, I have an update on John Viola who is running for re-election in the 26th RD. I am told that he fought against Bluewater Wind, and is pretty consistent in opposing most progressive legislation in Dover, including manufactured housing reform.

I also forgot to mention Matt Denn, who is running against Republican Charlie Copeland for the office of Lieutenant Governor. Matt has been a terrific progressive leader as Insurance Commissioner. His Democratic opponent Ted Blunt is a wonderful candidate, but has decided to end his run. I and the PDD fully endorse Matt Denn's candidacy, and this is a race that will need dollars and volunteer time (Copeland is a DuPont heir).

Progressive Update--07/10/2008

Obama—There are a lot of opportunities to help Senator Barack Obama become our next President. You can go to, and sign up, including for a local group (I belong to the Newark, Delaware, and the Chester County (PA) groups. The website should show you events in your area. You can reach out to Rob Carver ( and ask how you can help. The national campaign is working on bringing some campaign staff into the state this month, to help out. Those of us in New Castle County may direct a bit of our attention to the Pennsylvania battleground, as we did in 2004. Stay tuned!
The Republicans have found a way around the limitations of federal campaign limits for McCain (who is taking taxpayer money for his campaign), by co-opting the Republican Governor fund, which has no donation limits. So keep sending what you can to Obama’s campaign (online works well), and look for cool fundraisers to join.
Delaware Campaigns—As with the presidential primaries, Democrats have a wealth of choices this year, and Delaware is no exception. We have many choices to make this September 9th, including for US Congress, Governor, Insurance Commissioner, and County Executive.
I serve on the endorsement committee of the PDD, Progressive Democrats of Delaware ( One reason is that this election cycle I wanted to have better information to make my decisions, and to share information with you. We send out surveys to the candidates, and consider ‘how progressive’ each is. We examine their survey responses, we interview face-to-face several, and for incumbents, we examine their voting record (whether they ‘walk their talk’). Please consider donating to PDD (online is easiest), so that we can back our endorsements with checks. Money talks. PDD endorsement checks (or lack thereof) give elected officials more reason to consider taking liberal stands once in office. One sitting senator marked on her survey that she supported open government, but when asked to sign the petition to bring Senate Bill 4 to the floor she refused. PDD refused to endorse or contribute to her campaign as a result. Actions have repercussions.
I also serve on the 23rd Representative District (RD) committee. This week we sent checks totaling $4,800 to 17 candidates (Markell, Denn, Coons, Weldin-Stewart, Short, Johnson, Barbieri, Hall Long, Mackenzie, Terranova, Northington, Hartley-Nagle, Kowalko, Jacques, Viola, Boulden, and Clark), listed in decreasing order of check amounts. Thanks are due to all committee members, and to all who come to the annual spaghetti dinner, where we raise the money to make these contributions!
US Congress—There are three candidates for US Congress. I have friends who support Karen Hartley-Nagle and those who support Jerry Northington. Both have good progressive credentials. PDD and I endorse Jerry Northington. Jerry comes across initially as ‘another Michael Berg’, a single-issue (end the war) candidate. Further examination (go to reveals that he is very committed to healthcare and education reform. Whomever wins the Democratic primary will have an uphill battle to unseat Mike Castle, however this is certainly the best year to unseat Republicans. If you, like me, are tired of Castle’s tired claims of being a moderate while voting for so many of Bush’s policies, including restricting the state child health insurance program (SCHIP), then you know that this race requires our help.
Governor—There are two good candidates, John Carney and Jack Markell. Both are fine people, and fine candidates. PDD and I endorse Jack Markell as the candidate best prepared to deliver needed changes to the state. Many of us feel that John Carney is too tied to the ‘old party structure’, and owes too many favors. While most candidates spend their time listing promises during the campaign, Jack has prepared a 43-page blueprint of not only his goals, but also of his methods to achieve those goals for our state. This is typical of Jack, an incredibly intelligent and principled man who is quick to roll up his sleeves to solve problems. I have witnessed first-hand his instrumental work on behalf of the Delaware Money School, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and PDD. He has earned my vote many times over.
Insurance Commissioner—There are three candidates here. Neither PDD nor I have yet endorsed. All three have strengths and all three have weaknesses. I’ll focus on strengths. Tom Savage has made a pledge—if we don’t have single-payer healthcare in Delaware at the end of his term, he will not run for re-election. That is dedication. Karen Weldin-Stewart has pledged to refuse contributions that could taint her judgment, and has worked decades in the area of insurance company receivership (overseeing firms which are in jeopardy of being unable to meet their obligations). She speaks passionately about bringing universal healthcare to Delaware. Gene Reed has served within the commission for about twenty-years, in each division. He has been working for Delaware’s consumers under both Republican and Democratic Insurance Commissioners. He has the endorsement of the state (and county) Democratic Party.
County Executive—Chris Coons is running for re-election against prior County Executive Tom Gordon. Tom lost the last election under an ethics cloud (which he plea-bargained down to a misdemeanor). In his first term, Chris has angered many county employees due to firm management. As a result, Tom Gordon has the backing of both employee unions and several unions. I join most progressives in backing Chris Coons, and hoping that Delaware rejects Tom Gordon for a second and final time. PDD has not yet endorsed a candidate in this race.
Honorable Mention—John Kowalko is running for re-election to the 25th RD. He is the most progressive Representative, and perhaps the most progressive legislator in Dover. He doesn’t yet have a Republican opponent. If he does, please pitch in. I and the PDD enthusiastically endorse John. Mike Barbieri is running for the 18th RD seat held by Republican Terry Spence. Mike is a great progressive, and came close two years ago. I and the PDD endorse Mike’s campaign. Democrats Mike Terranova and John Mackenzie are running in a primary for the 6th Senate District (SD), held by Republican Liane Sorenson. Both candidates have strengths, and neither I nor the PDD have yet endorsed either candidate. Tom Scherer is running against incumbent William Bell in the 12th County Council district. Tom is a very green candidate with a gigantic heart, running against a councilman who Tom claims has done next to nothing for his district. Consider seeking out Tom and lending a hand (and some money). State Representative Bethany Hall-Long is running for the 10th SD seat vacated by retiring Steve Amick. If the Republicans find someone to run against Bethany, she will need our help. Will someone progressive PLEASE run against 11th SD State Senator Tony DeLuca (they fellow whose claim to fame is solving the impasse which he himself created with offshore wind power)? Bryon Short is running for re-election in the 7th RD in north Wilmington, against Republican James Bowers. Short surprised Republicans last year when he captured the seat previously held by Wayne Smith, who left the House to serve as a lobbyist. Quinton Johnson is running for the 8th RD, where Bethany Hall-Long currently serves. This new candidate will need help if the Republicans put up an opponent. Democratic candidate Earl Jacques and Independent James Spencer are running against Republican Vince Lofink in the 27th RD. Earl came within 60 or so votes of victory in 2006. Earl is not the most progressive candidate, but he is shifting ‘our way’. A victory in the 27th could tilt the majority of the House to the Democratic side, which would result in the chairmanship and the majority of each committee shifting to Democrats in January.
I apologize for my Delaware-centric focus. There is only so much time in the day, and so I focus on issues closest to my home. I will later this summer point out the US Senate and House races where you can make a real difference. 2008 can bring a real change to the US Senate if we pick up enough seats. Note that the reason that the country is so dissatisfied with the Congress at this time is that, despite a resounding victory for ‘end the war’ candidates in 2006, too many Republicans in the Senate prevented the majority of Senators from being able to place a timetable and other limits on the Iraq Occupation. To help Obama be better able to push through needed reform (health care, education, foreign affairs), he needs a strongly supportive Senate and House. has a Hot House races and an All Senate races page with great information. Note that a friend’s college friend, Jeff Merkley, is staying ahead of Republican Gordon Smith in his race to become a US Senator from Oregon.