Three ICs and a Proxy

Filed in National by on May 25, 2012

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of seeing 3 of the 4 Democratic Insurance Commissioners and a representative of Paul Clark.  The setting was a caucus with 4 or 5 RDs represented and conducting various business, including the first step in sending delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

The first to get up and speak was a representative from Clark’s campaign. As you all know, Clark is often accused of being an out-of-touch insider with ethical issues. In an effort to quell that impression he decided to send Vince Meconi in his stead.  Mission accomplished.

Since Karen Weldin Stewart is the incumbent, probably she should have been allowed to start, but instead Dennis Spivack stepped up first. This is the Dennis Spivack that is challenging a sitting insurance commissioner that is seeking re-election.  You would think that for someone to want to primary Stewart they would have some real, tangible complaints about the current IC office, how it’s run and who is to blame for that, right? Nope. Not one freaking word about KWS.

In fact, While Spivack spoke for almost 6 minutes (of the 5 allotted) he didn’t really say a goddamned thing for the entirety of his presentation. It consisted mostly of  “I know people that have gotten sick” and “I know business people that have health insurance” and the ever popular “I’ve lived in Delaware for all my life”.  In a nutshell, Dennis Spivack hasn’t even come up with a cover story for the real reason that he is running. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the reality is. Dennis is running to dilute the anti-KWS sentiment, and to help her get re-elected. Bravo, Dennis.

Next up was Stewart herself. Her argument was about how much she was able to save for Delaware insurance consumers during her term. She threw around a lot of numbers without much evidence or explanation. She was so proud of her accomplishments, that she had to have them all written on cue cards while she told us about how hard she negotiated for Delawareans. Oh, and in an effort to out-do Spivack, she said she had been in Delaware for generations. So there.

Finally, Mitch Crane stepped up to talk. In four minutes, he blistered the KWS administration with bills that he wrote, that would have met Stewart’s campaign promises in 2008. Yet those bills sit on a shelf, still wanting for a sponsor in the legislature.  He detailed the numerous ways that Stewart’s administration has failed real consumers in Delaware from Medicare Advantage plans to holding the bag for Highmark. He also managed to highlight his plans (along with the political backing that he will use to accomplish the goals).

I was able to sit in on a discussion afterwards about what we had just witnessed. I was amazed at the uniformity of the opinion that Crane was the right candidate to carry the Democratic torch. It wasn’t even close, and every person was able to highlight a different thing that they liked about Crane.

I know that the Insurance Commissioners race isn’t a sexy, high-profile race that will inspire a lot people to get off of their asses on September 11th, but it ought to be. Democrats should take this opportunity to show the state that we police our own. To demonstrate that when a crappy person gets into office, we are capable of recognizing our mistake and resolving it in a way that benefits everyone.

Now can we have a real (unconvicted) challenger to Paul Clark, please?

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  1. cassandra m says:

    Nice report, LG. Sounds like Spivak will spend this race searching for a reason to run, much like the last race where he spent his time whinging about money.

    And WTF — sending Vince Meconi? How tone deaf is that? Bet Meconi didn’t being any ice cream, either.

  2. Delaware Dem says:

    Is Gallagher even running anymore? If Spivack is that horrible a candidate and that transparent, and Crane continues in his take no prisoners approach as to KWS, then maybe Spivack and Gallagher won’t play spoilers after all.

  3. John Prickinson says:

    I sincerely hope Gallagher runs. I love it when he smashes those watermelons.

  4. SussexAnon says:

    LiberalGeek, your assessment of Spivak was spot on. He gave a speech here in Sussex that sounds very similar to what you describe.

  5. George says:

    Of course KWS had to read from a bunch of cue cards because she doesn’t know squat about anything. What’s worse, she doesn’t understand much beyond a fourth-grader’s intellectual level. If her opponents or anyone else want to out her as as the moron she is, a function like this one would have been perfect. Just get her to speak off script. She’ll be totally lost and will make no sense at all. Whether or not her stupidity and lack of ethics and morals will cost her the election remains to be seen. Seems to me her opponents would make more of that than they are.

  6. Josh says:

    I’m going to quote LT GOV Matt Denn, circa 2004 “Anything can happen in a primary.”

    I personally saw all four candidates at a forum in April. I liked what Dennis, had to say more than the others. Everyone has a shot. Mitch, has the money edge and will likely get the party endorsement at the convention before the JJ. The incumbent seems a non-starter with a lot of people in the party. Gallagher, knows insurance but I don’t see much change happening with him.

    That said Delaware Liberal has been very conspicuous in not having a link to Spivack’s IC campaign website.

  7. Geezer says:

    “Delaware Liberal has been very conspicuous in not having a link to Spivack’s IC campaign website.”

    Horseshit from a previously unknown poster notwithstanding, Dennis Spivack won’t get many votes, as the only reason he’s in the race is that Harris McDowell is calling in favors to protect his protege KWS.

  8. Geezer says:

    “Just get her to speak off script. She’ll be totally lost and will make no sense at all.”

    That’s been true for at least 20 years now. You’d think that would have been enough to keep people from ever voting for her in the first place, wouldn’t you?

  9. liberalgeek says:

    I’m not sure about other events, but there was no opportunity at this event to go off-script. Quite the contrary, each speaker was limited to 5 minutes. They could use it to give a speech or take questions, but all of them made a speech.

    Spivack seemed a little annoyed with the organization of the event. I got the feeling that he thought we were wasting his time because of the way it progressed (speeches came about 30 minutes after the event started). I wonder if, while he was driving home, he had the self-awareness that he was wasting a lot of people’s time with this whole charade. I doubt it.

  10. Geezer says:

    Spivack ALWAYS seems annoyed. He seems like a good guy, but he simply lacks the temperament needed for electoral politics.

  11. Josh says:

    I haven’t commented or been in Delaware, for nearly five years short the last two months. IAW AR 600-20 Appendix B, I couldn’t comment. It no longer applies to me.

    I think that commentary is “only reason he’s[Dennis] in the race is that Harris McDowell is calling in favors” is frankly unproven conjecture.

    Knowing Dennis, he has solid reasons for running and I think he will surprise everyone SEPT 11th.

  12. Josh says:

    Yes, he does often seem annoyed just as I often look angry.

  13. Maybe the secret about Spivak is what he has already been given: the stability of a state job in the AG office. Beau Biden’s staff have not exactly been an improvement from the DE WAY norm — politically driven sub-par work — that comes out of that office (of the many examples: the incredible recent opinion that Mayor Baker can’t be FOIA’d because his office is comprised of one person).

    As for Meconi, I recently got a clipping about him in the mail from Frieda Berryhill (who is very sick right now, please keep her in your thoughts).

    If anyone needs a reminder, Lee Williams state psychiatric center coverage centered on then Secretary of DHSS Meconi’s document shredding party during ongoing investigations, calls for his resignation, Minner’s vote of confidence and Meconi’s political history.

    Frieda says Carper recruited him to run against her when she bid for a state house seat with an anti-nuke power platform. He won, lasted one term and then Carper put him on a commission to oversee nuke power/DE’s Public Advocate.

    Lee Williams listed:
    1971 – data analyst for the state
    1980’s Director of Planning for the Administrative Officer of the Courts
    Won House seat for 21st District – 2 year term
    1987-1991 was Congressman Carper’s Executive Assistant
    1992 was Carper’s campaign manager for his governor’s race
    1993 Carper appoints Meconi to a cabinet post at the Dept. of Adminstrative Services
    2001 Minner appoints him as Secretary of DHSS

    Williams added that

    “Delaware’s former Public Advocate, Patricia Stowell, told the News Journal that she was muzzled by Meconi, then her boss at Administrative Services, during intense lobbying by Delmarva Power & Light to degregulate the state’s electric utilities. Stowell, who didn’t think small power users would see the lower rates, turned out to be right. When deregulation kicked in last year, consumers saw rate increases of 59-100 percent.”

    The article goes on to dissect Meconi’s “misrepresentations”.

    By the way, funny how the circle closes around good friends and patrons. Patronage goes both ways. State jobs are given to loyal foot soldiers and legislators get hired to lobby for the local corporations after leaving office.

    Word is that Pam Scott is now working for Gary Stockbridge over at Delmarva Power & Light.

    Small world, small state.

  14. liberalgeek says:

    How about if we just say that if he isn’t doing this because Harris McDowell asked him to, it is a sign of early onset dementia? Would that be better?

    The reason I ask is that no one, including Spivack himself, has made a case for why he is running against the incumbent in a primary. I have never seen a mention of Spivack having anything to say about a single issue that the IC deals with prior to his decision to run.

    Tell you what, you explain why Dennis is running, nominally, against KWS and I’ll try really hard to pretend you aren’t knee-deep in the kabuki theater that Dennis is involved in.

  15. DP&L owes Vince Meconi so Meconi makes sure his boss, Paul Clark’s, wife gets hired.

    The clipping above did not have a date attached but it must have been a year or so before the Markell administration took over. Meconi was hired under contract by Jack Markell and placed in Matt Denn’s office to oversee the federal stimulus dollars. He showed up on Clark’s transition team and now is evidently acting as surrogate during political campaign events while a county employee.

  16. Geezer says:

    “I think that commentary is “only reason he’s[Dennis] in the race is that Harris McDowell is calling in favors” is frankly unproven conjecture.”

    You’re right, it’s unproven conjecture. But you can’t disprove it just by asking Dennis about it — he’d have to lie to protect the whole affair, right? And Harris isn’t going to talk about it, at least not when he’s sober.

    As Liberal Geek pointed out, even Spivack can’t articulate a reason he’s in the race. Put that together with the flooding of the primary field, the only political trick Harris remembers (it’s how he survived to fuck up the legislature for another term), and it’s conjecture with a solid base of evidence.

    The fact that you acknowledge being a Spivack supporter only further weakens what you first came here to accomplish.

  17. Geezer says:

    It should be noted that DP&L owns Harris McDowell lock, stock and whiskey barrel.

  18. So it should, Geezer!

  19. Anon says:

    From the Department of election website, filed candidates – see filing dates.

    Could Harris McDowell have paid for Dennis Spivak’s filing fee?

    Statewide Offices
    Office Democratic Party Republican Party

    Lieutenant Governor Matthew Denn (5-17-12)

    Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart (1-25-12)
    Mitch Crane (2-8-12)
    Paul J. Gallagher (3-5-12)
    Dennis Spivack (3-26-12)

    State Senate
    Office Democratic Party Republican Party
    State Senate District 1 Harris B. McDowell, III (3-26-12)

  20. Josh says:

    First, it was March not April, that I saw all four at, Marbrook.

    If memory serves me right Dennis, said he was running because he could do better than the incumbent, and offered an outside perspective from the current candidates. He also believes his personal experience will help him serve and do more for the people of Delaware. His website lists his reasons. I honestly think he is running because he thinks he will do a better job than any of the other candidates running. I haven’t asked him. I don’t know that you have to be an advocate for insurance reform prior to running for insurance commissioner. I think you need ideas which he has outlined on a website. I liked Dennis, then and I do now.

    I also think his personnel experience with insurance companies when he became uninsured for a time after he ran for congress give him a base for running. I also think he has the best problem solving skill of the group and it will allow him to do better than the other candidates.

    That said I have very little knowledge of the past five years in Delaware politics, I voted absentee from where I was stationed. He’s the only Military veteran, and as one that’s enough for me. I don’t know what connection Harris and Dennis, have if any other than just like the rest of the party establishment he endorsed him in his campaign in 2006.

    I just don’t think it’s fair, reasonable or open your treating him as if he’s not running by keeping his website unmentioned when on the same site your linking to republicans. It just doesn’t make sense to me because in a four way primary anything can happen.

  21. SussexAnon says:

    Since the “Spivak Supporter” is a rare species, we should study it and try and learn from it.

  22. Geezer says:

    SA: While I applaud your idea, Josh wrote, “He’s the only Military veteran, and as one that’s enough for me.”

    There isn’t much to study there.

    Josh, I’m very sorry for Dennis, but he can’t win (because he has no natural constituency among people who care about the IC office and nobody with any juice backs him), he won’t win and he has no reason for being in this race, unless he’s hurting for employment. Or he’s paying back a favor.

  23. SussexWatcher says:

    Nancy: You’re full of shit on the Baker FOIA issue. What the AG said is the open meetings rules don’t apply to agencies or bodies where the decision making power rests in one person, like a mayor or governor. Otherwise, every meeting that person held would have to be open! How stupid is that? The ruling did NOT say that FOIA’s open records provisions do not apply. Read the damn opinion before you continue making an idiot of yourself. I know you’re just parroting what John Flaherty says in his email blasts, but this is one occasion where he’s dead wrong.

    Sorry for going off topic.

  24. SussexAnon says:

    Yeah, Geezer, that quote really is a problem for me too.

    GW Bush is a Vet, Allen West from FL and Alex Pires too. Being a Vet does not and should not guarantee a vote.

  25. Josh says:

    SA- Well your talking about republicans, in a closed primary state. Cause that makes sense?

    It doesn’t guarantee anything. It contributes to me thinking that together Dennis Spivack, will do better than the current candidates. I think that his personnel experiences as well as, his personnel experience with insurance companies will make him an absolutely ruthless advocate for insurance consumers in this state. I feel like he is in my corner more than any of the other candidates and understands me. He’s been in my shoes, and the only one I want to have a beer with.

    So was Gore, Clark, and Kerry. Clark and Kerry who I was old enough to vote for and did. I don’t vote for republicans.

    I’m voting for him cause as a husband, parent, veteran, and insurance consumer I felt his stump represented me better than the other candidates.

    All I want is for Dennis, to get his website linked here. He’s a candidate just like all the others.

    I see that some great Representatives my 3 of my favorite 4 Kowalko, Jaques, and Atkins. FMR chairs of NCC DEMS and current from Kent and Sussex as well as the endorsed candidate of my current and former RD 4th and 12th. Have endorsed Mitch, I have no qualms with him in the general. I like some Gallagher’s ideas. I don’t find the incumbent has proved competent.

    I just like Spivack’s story, and grit.

  26. Josh says:

    Time to go to work. GO SIXERS!

  27. liberalgeek says:

    I’m glad you like Spivack’s story. I think he’s been practicing it in front of a mirror for months.

    “Hey Dennis, keep it up! They’re starting to believe you!”
    -H. McDowell

  28. SussexAnon says:

    Josh, Pires is not a republican. He was a registered democrat prior to changing to unaffiliated.

    Carper is a Vet and he isn’t guaranteed my vote either.

    Its great that you like Spivak’s story and grit. I happen to prefer insurgent candidates that actually have specific issues and things they wish to change. Spivaks story and grit didnt’ get him very far in his congressional run, and, he discussed more issues on the stump than this go-round.

    Spivaks angle is “I had sick relatives and I only wish Delawareans could have the same insurance as them” OK. To me, that is something you end your speech with after you list the things you wish to put in place to get us there. It shouldn’t be your whole speech. Because it shows either a lack of depth, understanding or passion for the office.

  29. george says:

    “….it shows either a lack of depth, understanding or passion for the office”.

    Gee, sounds just like KWS and she got elected anyway. She has “passion for the office” alright, but only to the extent it serves her self-interest. All Spivak has to do is add a bunch of lies to his stump speech and he’ll get to be IC just like that ignorant idiot did.

  30. OK Sussex, your passionate drooling invites a response. There are plenty more examples of horrendous opinions coming out of the AG office if you don’t like the one cited but it would take time I don’t have just now to dig’em up. Quite a few of them have been documented on Delaware Liberal.

    Despite your desire to throw flames at John Flaherty, I stand with his interpretation of that opinion though I may have bungled the details in speaking from memory.

  31. SussexWatcher says:


    You’re continuing to dig yourself into a hole of nitwittery. I’m not saying there haven’t been other other awful FOIA opinions from Biden’s office, nor am I “throwing flames” at Flaherty. I *am* disputing your account of the Baker one, and calling him out on his erroneous interpretation of it.

    There is a fundamental difference between FOIA’s open-meetings and open-records provisions. The fact that you don’t understand that means you’re an idiot. I’ll chalk Flaherty’s error up to his occasional unrestrained hyperbole.

    The opinion explicitly says: “Your complaint concering meetings with the Office of the Mayor has no merit because the Mayor’s Office is not subject to the Open Meetings requirements of FOIA.” Not a word about the public records provisions.

    And here’s an amazing fact for you: You don’t have to speak from memory! The opinion is online:

  32. Nancy Willing says:

    ok I read the opinion. I will have to look back at the documentation provided to the AG office since there is little to nothing in the opinion to shed light on exactly what comprised the staff meeting and the nature of the complaints. I’ll also have a look at the statute.

    It could well be that any derision regarding this opinion should be aimed at the General Assembly for this bastardization of FOIA law.

  33. SussexWatcher says:

    (Sorry to go off topic, but Nancy needs some instructin’.)


    There is nothing to study or deride here. That opinion was the correct call. If the Mayor’s Office was subject to FOIA’s open-meetings provisions, then so would be the Governor’s Office, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office of every municipality and the County Executive or County Administrator of every county. None of those people would be able to hold meetings of ANY sort without advertising them and letting the public in. That would bring government in this state to a standstill.

    It’s very simple: When one person holds the decision-making authority, that person is not subject to FOIA’s open-meetings provisions. Staff meetings or meetings with outside groups do not count, because the decision still rests with the mayor/governor/administrator/executive. If that person delegates that authority to a committee or task force, then that group must hold open meetings, to be sure. Should Jack Markell open up every meeting with his staff, with legislators, with representatives of companies? Under your line of thinking, yes, he should. I’m sorry to sound so harsh, but that is just moronic.

    In this case, it sounds like Baker and his staff met with members of the historical society, and Sills’ group got pissed off and outraged and filed a groundless FOIA complaint. Would Sills’ group be willing to open up ITS meetings with Baker and his staff to the public or members of the historical society? Something tells me no. There’s neither smoke nor fire here. The anti-historical society group just looks stupid here, as do people who spout off supporting it on this front.

  34. No it isn’t moronic to say that I will have to look at what was requested by the AAHC Mayor Sills et al of Mayor Baker before I can understand what information or access they were denied and now trying to redress through AG opinion. I get what you are saying but it isn’t squaring against the thrust of what I am trying to understand.

    You can suppose all you want but look like something of an idiot yourself to try to compare Sill’s group’s meetings to meetings of a mayoral office and that entails the use of tax-payer dollars.


    The entire point of sunshine law is so that backroom deals are brought out into the open even if after the fact. Any minutes of meetings held by Baker and his dozen or so staffers and any emails of anyone in his office are fair game and must be made available to the public. Baker has refused to show his hand on this issue but it is public dollars he is throwing around.

    I just have to assess what was requested by Sills’ group and how it may have fit or not fit into the gaping loophole the Assembly left in our open meeting law.

    I understand that notice doesn’t have to be given in the case of mayoral staff meetings but details of the content and context of such meetings are and should be publicly accessible.

  35. It is weird to try and talk to anonymous petulant snobs on a blog. Too afraid to use your real name, pal?

  36. SussexWatcher says:


    If you don’t like talking to anonymous people, why do you come here? Almost every one of the mainpage bloggers uses a pseudonym. So STFU.

    look like something of an idiot yourself to try to compare Sill’s group’s meetings to meetings of a mayoral office and that entails the use of tax-payer dollars.

    I was talking about Sills’ group meeting with the mayor. They wanted the historical society’s meeting with the mayor opened. Would they be willing to have any of their meetings with the mayor opened? I really doubt it.

    Any minutes of meetings held by Baker and his dozen or so staffers and any emails of anyone in his office are fair game and must be made available to the public.

    Absolutely, if minutes or notes were taken, those are public records. Sills’ group was trying to claim an open-meetings violation by saying the meeting itself should have been open. Again, there’s a fundamental difference there. Open meetings – public records. Get it in your head.

    into the gaping loophole the Assembly left in our open meeting law. I understand that notice doesn’t have to be given in the case of mayoral staff meetings but details of the content and context of such meetings are and should be publicly accessible.

    What loophole? If minutes and notes were taken, they are public record. If no one took notes, then they’re not. There’s no requirement to take notes or minutes of such meetings. It’s very simple.

  37. John Young says:

    LG, let’s see about Senate 3 on that police our own stuff.

    Vote Townsend!

  38. John Young says:

    Um, oops, Senate 11