…ah, but first some context. There was very little legislation of value to pass this year. Payday loans was perhaps the highlight, at least for me. So, much of this year’s list focuses on the election and some grassroots heroes. With a growing number of progressive voices in the General Assembly, I hope and expect that 2013 will yield some notable legislative triumphs, and that this list will look much different next year. Back to the countdown, now in progress…
10. LT. GOVERNOR MATT DENN: No one in Delaware fights harder for children. Few, if any, in Delaware, are as committed to quality public education for all. He’s also on the list because he ran on what he considers to be his mission. I’m paraphrasing: “If you don’t seek office in order to help improve people’s lives, then what’s the point?” He works at that every day. He’s ‘only’ #10 because he’s ‘only’ Lieutenant Governor. I, for one, hope to see that change in 2016.
9. SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCILPERSON JOAN DEAVER: One of the few sane voices in Sussex County at a time when Sussex County needs more sane voices, is in full-blown flight from sanity. Successfully winning reelection against one of these ‘Agenda 21′ Chicken Littles (the ‘chicken’ reference is deliberate) in a year when Sussex County voters have not yet come to grips with the problems facing them, and the UN is not among them, is a singular accomplishment for someone who is part of the solution in Sussex.
8. REP. EARL JAQUES: It’s possible that he’s more populist than progressive, but we need more like him in Dover. Come to think of it, we need both populists and progressives. After all, you can be both, and I think that Earl Jaques is. Sponsored single-payer health insurance, opposes the blatant Delmarva ‘smart-meter’ rip-off, seems immune to ‘Delaware Way’ incestuousness, votes the right way, and does his homework. He also sponsored and helped pass this bill, which I strongly support. The General Assembly is becoming more progressive, and I look forward to what Jaques can accomplish in such an environment.
7. SEN. BOB MARSHALL: While most, including me, focused on his Hamletesque ‘Will he or won’t he run for mayor?’ dalliance, Bob Marshall passed legislation increasing the minimum wage in the Senate, sponsored the DREAM Act, and drew a line in the sand when it comes to privatizing the Port of Wilmington, making it clear that he will use any and all power at the General Assembly’s disposal to prevent any proposed deal from escaping legislative and public scrutiny. Of course, Jack Markell didn’t want a minimum wage increase, so he got it buried in a House committee that wouldn’t release it. Memo to Senator Marshall: Reintroduce and pass the minimum wage bill in January, and give us the chance to put pressure on the House to act. What will Jack Markell and Pete Schwartzkopf do?
6. PAUL CALISTRO: I don’t think that Helene Keeley’s payday loan bill, which goes after the predatory practices of the vulturous companies that screw the working poor, could have passed without the highly-effective community support that Calistro helped to lead. Paul has done far more effective work on behalf of Wilmington constituents than most of those who purportedly ‘serve’ said constituents in Dover, Marshall, Keeley, and perhaps Henry as the only possible exceptions. Those who use the term ‘community organizer’ as a pejorative will do so at their own risk. What Paul and others (Paul serves as this year’s proxy) have done is to demonstrate how progressives and liberals can turn grassroots outreach into success.
5. REBECCA YOUNG: Rebecca has always remained true to her progressive principles even when serving the Democratic Party. Even when some party leaders look askance at her support of the likes of Bryan Townsend while the Party marshals its resources to protect the ethically-bankrupt Tony DeLuca. Which is why she’s here. Rebecca understands grassroots campaigning better than anyone in Delaware, and understands how essential grassroots campaigns are to progressives and liberals. Then she goes out and supports them, regardless of consequences. Betcha that Bryan Townsend and Trey Paradee, among others, endorse this choice.
4. REP. JOHN KOWALKO: For those of you not paying attention, you are being ripped off by Delmarva Power. Delmarva Power is being aided and abetted by the so-called Public Service Commission and the so-called Public Advocate. Bottom line: Delmarva is stealing from the customers and giving to the stockholders. They’re sticking us with costs that we should not be stuck with. They’re claiming depreciation costs that any reasonable neutral party would deem laughable. John Kowalko has called them on it. He, several other legislators, and many ordinary citizens, attended the recent PSC hearing, but were not allowed to speak. The so-called Public Advocate advocated against the interest of the public, in this case, the consumers. John Kowalko always does his homework, and fights for the Average Joe. It would be criminal if Pete Scwartzkopf took him off the Sunset Committee before Kowalko gets a chance to make sure that the ‘public’ in Public Service Commission and Public Advocate stands for something. Like the public interest.
3. JOHN SIGLER: When he’s not arguing that every American has the right to own a Bushmaster 123 and/or many of its ilk, John Sigler, along with his ‘independent’ vice-chair Greg Lavelle, drives the Delaware Rethuglican Party further toward irrelevance. His Just Some Guys statewide ticket was an albatross around the neck of every single R running locally. In fact, that ticket almost certainly discouraged otherwise interested candidates from even running. I’ve already forgotten who was on that ticket, so please give me a sec while I look them up. Be right back. Uh, Kevin Wade, Tom Kovach (who presumably was considered the prize recruit), Ernie Cragg, Sher Valenzuela, and Ben Mobley. Every single one of them underperformed Mitt Romney in Delaware. The entire state Democratic Party thanks John, and so do I. John, please stay right where you are.
2. REP. TREY PARADEE: That’s right. Representative Trey Paradee. He has run two of the best legislative races in my memory. He lost the first (barely) against Rep. Pam Thornburg, and he defeated incumbent Rep. Lincoln Willis this year. Willis was viewed as one of the very few rising stars in the Republican Party, but Paradee effectively unmasked Willis as an empty suit who couldn’t defend his own record in public forums. In terms of his campaign skills, Paradee reminds me of Matt Denn. He leaves nothing to chance, and, in both of his races, he optimized his odds for winning. A bulldog. What we have here is a rising star in Democratic politics replacing a once-promising star in Republican politics. And Paradee’s as progressive a legislator as you’re going to get out of Kent County at a time when Kent County is becoming more hospitable to progressive candidacies. Never have I been so happy to have been wrong on one of my predictions.
1. SEN. BRYAN TOWNSEND: That’s right. Senator Bryan Townsend. Hmm, let’s see here. He had the guts to challenge the most ethically- and morally-bankrupt member of the Delaware General Assembly even though it cost him his job at a politically-connected law firm. He wasn’t just running against Sen. Tiny Tony DeLuca, he was running against the entrenched Democratic establishment. He ran a great grassroots campaign and recruited the best young staff and cadre of volunteers you could imagine. After handily defeating DeLuca, he wiped the floor with Agenda 21 True Believer Evan Queitsch. He begins his Senate term as one of the most-knowledgeable thinkers about public education. He will be a constituent service machine. And, like Paradee, he is a rising star in Democratic politics. Yes, I like him a lot. But I especially admire his courage in pursuing what seemed to many to be a quixotic challenge against the powerful DeLuca. Sometimes, you just have to do what is right. Bryan Townsend did.
I also considered (in alphabetical order) retiring Speaker Bob Gilligan, payday loan sponsor Rep. Helene Keeley, almost-NCC Exec. (until Paul Clark manipulated him out of the race) candidate Richard Krett, grassroots guru Erik Schramm, and Occupy Delaware stalwart Jen Wallace.
I fervently hope that next year’s list will include so many legislators who have sponsored and passed progressive initiatives that I will have no choice but to expand the list.
The New Year starts now!
Tags: Bryan Townsend Delaware, El Somnambulo, Joan Deaver Delaware, John Sigler Delaware, Matt Denn, Paul Calistro Delaware, Rebecca Young Delaware, Rep. Earl Jawues Delaware, Rep. John Kowalko Delaware, Sen. Bob Marshall Delaware, Steve Tanzer Delaware, Trey Paradee Delaware