Today’s bare-bones News-Journal story reports that both Pete Schwartzkopf and Helene Keeley are seeking the position. The News-Journal does not report that each candidate has a slate. If my sources are correct, and it’s not certain that they are, each slate has at least one major head-scratcher on it. Here they are:
Speaker: Pete Schwartzkopf
Majority Leader: Valerie Longhurst (??!!)
Majority Whip: Quin Johnson
Speaker: Helene Keeley
Majority Leader: Bryon Short
Majority Whip: John Viola (??!!)
I don’t know who will win, but I believe that this contest represents the first clear emergence of different factions within the Caucus. It happens when you have overwhelming numbers. Then-Rep. Jane Maroney once told me, “There is something to be said against having too many people in your caucus.” That was when the R’s had something like 29, and I think she’s right. Speaker Gilligan was clearly the institutional memory of the House and the one guy around whom everyone could rally. With his absence, you are now seeing alliances of convenience. While I would make Helene the slight favorite here, based on the overwhelming NCC and Wilmington numbers in the caucus, keep in mind that it’s all about promises made. You can bet that people have been promised committee chairs, especially the money committees, membership on JFC, etc. Both sides think they have the votes, which tells me that the same people are pledging their votes to each side, and some people are still looking for some kind of legislative plum in exchange for their vote.
BTW, while I can’t fathom why someone so universally distrusted as Valerie Longhurst is on Schwartzkopf’s ticket, I do understand why Viola is on Keeley’s team. You get the votes of two profoundly-undistinguished legislators for the price of one. Geez, could it all come down to the vote of…Lumpy Carson?
BTW, BTW, contrary to the News-Journal article, everything points to Patti Blevins and Karen Peterson having cut a deal that will ensure Blevins’ elevation to President Pro-Tem of the Delaware State Senate. Celia Cohen has written it, and that’s what I’ve been told as well. I hope that the deal increases the influence of Peterson and Dave Sokola within the caucus. I could live with that.