How Progressive Priorities fared in the General Assembly – The Updated and Revised Vote Tracker

Filed in Delaware by on August 6, 2013

I finally got already to going through all the bills that were plowed through by our General Assembly on June 30. Yes, it took over a month. No, not really, I’ve been enjoying the summer too. This time, the Vote Tracker is downloadable in PDF form, rather than the Excel spreadsheet. Further, the Tracker, or rather, the legislation we are tracking, is organized into the following categories: 1) Passed and Signed Bills, 2) Passed One House, But Not the Other, 3) Waiting for Votes, either in Committee or on the floor, and 4) Defeated and Tabled Bills.

Now, remember, this Tracker only keeps track of legislation that is of a priority or of concern to those of us on the liberal and progressive side of the aisle. Indeed, the Tracker is a joint effort between Delaware Liberal and the Progressive Democrats for Delaware (PDD). The PDD announced their legislative priorities earlier this year, and it was and is a pretty good, and long, list (in no order of priority):

Minimum Wage Increase
Opposing Cuts to Medicaid
Marriage Equality
Death Penalty Repeal
Gun Control Legislation
Progressive Tax Rates
Single Payer Healthcare
Lobbying Disclosure Reform
Independent Redistricting Reform
Amending the Anti-Discrimination Law to Include Transgendered Persons
Charter School Reform
No Excuse Absentee Voting
Manufactured Home Rent Justification

So it is best to view the Vote Tracker in terms of the above priorities. That’s 13 priorities. How many were achieved? How many were defeated? And how many are a work in progress?

Minimum Wage Increase–SB 6 was amended and weakened in the Senate, only increasing the minimum wage to $7.75 per hour effective 1/1/14, and $8.25 per hour effective 1/1/15. This amended bill passed the Senate 12-9. It was tabled in the House by the Chairman Bryan Short (D) of the House Banking, Economic Development, Insurance, Commerce and the Kitchen Sink Committee. Just so all are aware, tabling a bill in committee is the same in our view as voting no on it. So Mr. Short will have some explaining to do. Regardless, this priority was defeated this session.

Opposing Cuts to Medicaid–The budget as passed did not cut Medicaid. So, this priority is achieved, for now.

Marriage Equality –HB 75 is the law of the land, having passed the Senate and House, 12-9 and 23-18, respectively. Two Representatives endorsed by the PDD, Charles Potter and Earl Jaques, will have some explaining to do concerning their no votes during the next election, so they should get started on that now. Priority achieved.

Death Penalty Repeal–SB 19 passed the Senate by the narrowest of margins (11-10) and against long odds (i.e. intense lobbying pressure from the State Police and AG Biden). Perhaps that pressure is to blame for the bill being tabled in the House Judiciary Committee by Chairman Rebecca Walker. Priority defeated.

Gun Control Legislation–This one is a mixed bag. The Governor got most of his gun control bills passed, including the Universal Background Checks Bill, though it was weakened by a couple dozen amendments. For the record, SB 16 (Lost/Stolen Gun Reporting), HB 35 (Universal Background Check), HB 36 (Mandatory Minimums on illegally possessing a gun) and SB 40 (increasing penalties for repeat offenders of gun crimes) all passed and have been signed by the Governor. HB 73, which increases penalties for crimes committed with firearms, passed the House 40-1 and awaits a vote in the Senate. HB 88, which would have prevented the mentally ill from purchasing firearms, was defeated in the Senate. There were problems with the bill and AG Biden apparently failed in his lobbying efforts, so it is likely HB 88 will be back in some revised form next session. Meanwhile, HB 58 (large capacity magazine ban); HB 62 (allowing Wilmington to enact its own gun laws); SB 23 (allowing other municipalities to enact their own gun laws); HB 67 (providing for gun free school zones); and HB 72 (providing for mandatory minimums for unlawfully concealing a firearm) all are languishing in committee. So this one is incomplete.

Progressive Tax Rates–HB 50, which cut the tax rate for those making $60,000 and over from 6.75% to and made the lower rate permanent, was a defeat. Right now, the highest income bracket in Delaware is the $60k and above bracket. There is no way in hell is it fair or progressive for someone making $60,000 and someone making $600,000 should be paying the same tax rate. Our progressive legislators were rebuffed by the Democratic leadership and the Governor in their attempts to keep the rate at 6.75% or adding more income level tiers above 60k. So this priority was defeated. On a brighter side, the Estate Tax and the Corporate Franchise Tax were made permanent.

Single Payer Healthcare–John Kowalko’s HB 74 sits in the House Health and Human Development Committee. So officially, this priority is incomplete.

Lobbying Reform–John Kowalko’s amended HB 13, which prohibits a former member of the General Assembly from acting as a lobbyist for a period of one year after their retirement or defeat, instead of two years as originally drafted, passed the House 30-11, with the only PDD endorsed Representatives voting no being Heffernan and JJ Johnson. But the bill is stuck in the Senate Executive Committee. The Republicans in the General Assembly have embraced lobbying and open government reform as a tool to hammer the Democratic leadership, and have introduced a number of bills of their own, including a bill that is Kowalko’s original two year prohibition (SB 49), a prohibition on lobbying for two years on all Executive Branch (i.e. Markell Administration) personnel (HB 184), a bill requiring that all gifts over $50 be reported and disclosed (HB 78) and a bill for more transparency regarding the adoption of rules and regulations (SB 74). All of these Republican bills are just fine by me, from an open government and progressive point of view, as ironic as that sounds. Indeed, a number of progressive legislators are co-sponsoring them. Alas, they all languish in committee, as does SB 50, the Double Dipping Reform bill. So this priority is incomplete.

Independent Redistricting Reform–SB 48 passed the Senate on a party line vote, 13-7 (all Dems in favor and all Republicans opposed). It is awaiting action in the House Administration committee. So this priority is incomplete, and if action is not taken early 2014 during the next session, this priority will be defeated (it will be impossible to get action done on this as we get closer to the next census).

Amending the Anti-Discrimination Law to Include Transgendered Persons–SB 97 passed and is law. Priority achieved.

Charter School Reform–SB 165 passed and is law, although I did not include it on the Vote Tracker. Why? Because it is a matter of some controversy and division in progressive and Democratic circles. Indeed, it can be said that the passage of the Charter School Reform bill is actually a defeat for Charter School reform and thus this priority is defeated. The voting breakdown on SB 165 illustrates that latter notion and the former progressive divide: Senators Sokola (a sponsor) and Poore voted yes, as did Representative Jaques (also a prime sponsor), while Senators Townsend and Peterson and Representatives Baumbach, Potter, JJ Johnson, Kowalko and Osienski all voted no. Further complicating the picture is the passage of good progressive bills sponsored by Senator Townsend to salvage a small victory from the jaws of defeat. SB 147 and 148, which promoted best practices sharing between public and charter schools and more transparency in the competitive grant process, were passed and are law. So for now, this priority is incomplete.

No Excuse Absentee Voting–HB 20, the first leg of a constitutional amendment (meaning it has to pass both houses and be signed by the Governor over two legislative sessions), was defeated on a party line vote, which means that all 27 Democrats in the House voted for it, and all 14 Republicans in the House voted against it. Why did it fail if a majority voted for it? Because a Constitutional Amendment needs a two thirds majority, or 28 votes. Priority Defeated.

Manufactured Home Rent Justification–An amended and substituted bill, SB 33, passed the Senate and House and was signed by the Governor. Priority achieved.

For those keeping track at home, the scorecard on the 13 priorities….


A final note about the chart: the legislator’s names which are colored blue are Democrats. If they are colored red, they are Republicans. If they are highlighted in yellow, they were endorsed by the PDD in 2012 or 2010.


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  1. kavips says:

    Thanks Deldem for the hard work in putting this together…

  2. Steve Newton says:

    savage a small victory from the jaws of defeat

    Ah, for the want of an “L” …

    But an excellent post. Everybody should be that open about what they wanted, what they won, and what they lost.

  3. Delaware Dem says:

    Damn you autocorrect! Thanks for heads up. That typo kinda changes the meaning of that sentence.

  4. Idealist says:

    I wouldn’t categorize bills that were tabled as “defeated.” Unless I’m misinformed, the difference between a bill that was defeated in a floor vote and one that was tabled in committee is that a bill that was tabled remains a “live” bill. For instance, if Bryon Short, Andria Bennett, and Quinn Johnson decide they wanted to stand up for the working class (which I thought was a Democratic value), they could support the Minimum Wage bill out of committee.

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    Yes, I understand what you are saying, but having a bill that has been considered and then tabled is a much different situation (and more dire for the prospects of the bill) than just having it be stuck in committee. Yes, the bill could be brought back to life, and thus be a live bill, but there is the rub. “Brought back to life.” That means it’s dead right now. And if it is dead right now, it is defeated. That is why I considered a bill being tabled to be a different situation than a bill being stuck in committee without a vote.

  6. The burial of the minimum wage bill is due to Gov. Markell and his House henchpersons. Markell publicly stated that he could support the weakened minimum wage bill that passed the Senate, and then got Schwartzkopf and Longhurst to put it in the Business Lapdog Committee instead of the House Labor Committee. MARKELL LIED TO US, there is no other way to interpret this.

    BTW, as long as Rep. Kowalko is being pushed as some sort of hero here, which he is not, remember that it was Kowalko who vociferously opposed SB 50, which would put an end to double dipping. I know because I made the proposal at a PDD meeting, and was stunned at Kowalko’s response. This was after he and his wife, in essence, took over PDD.

  7. Delaware Dem says:

    I will never understand your outright hostility towards Kowalko, El Som. Yes, he is wrong on SB 50, but you have a dislike of him that existed long before that meeting. For reasons that are unknown to me, you have a personal dislike of him that colors your opinion.

    As for the PDD and it being taken over, you know better. But if you are so concerned about the organization, the invitation has been extended by me to you for over two years now for you to become more involved. It has been your choice not to be involved.

  8. Connie Merlet says:

    What is your problem? We’ve taken over PDD? How would you possibly know, having never been to another meeting after that one? Why would you make a ridiculous statement like that? I don’t consider myself any more important or influential than any of the other steering committee members and my husband isn’t even on the steering committee. He merely faithfully attends meetings.
    Please try to stick to things you know about when you make comments.
    Thank you.
    Connie Merlet

  9. SussexWatcher says:

    *Gets popcorn*

  10. It is not a personal dislike. I have laid this out so many times that I can only conclude that those who don’t understand my point deliberately ignore it.

    My point, and it has only been underlined this year, is that he is a very ineffective legislator. Precisely because he insists on holding himself up as some sort of progressive hero, and everyone else…isn’t.

    I’ve heard normally intelligent people say, ‘Well at least he’s saying what nobody else will say’. I say that his message is almost always garbled because, on many occasions, his message is unintelligible, couched as it often is, in fractured syntax and sentences without end.

    He blames others consistently for his failure to get legislation passed when, in fact, it is either his unwillingness or inability to work effectively with others that is more at fault. He then holds himself out as ‘the last political virgin’. It’s everybody else’s fault. I’ve gotten the phone calls, and I bet you have as well.

    I know that many people idolize his iconoclastic approach. But, as a progressive, I’ve wearied of seeing his continued ineffectiveness. Time to look elsewhere for progressive leadership.

    You may call it personal all you want. It isn’t. My perspective is that he simply can’t be an effective legislator if he continues his grandstanding ways. It’s based on my 20-plus years working for the General Assembly and seeing how legislators are either effective or ineffective. My experience also tells me that he can’t and won’t change.

    And, when I think he is being painted as some sort of martyr, I will call BS.

  11. SussexWatcher says:

    So he’s Delaware’s Bernie Sanders?

  12. No. Bernie Sanders is intelligible.

  13. Delaware Dem says:

    See, you are making it personal. That kind of ad hominem attack against a legislator who is brave enough to offer progressive legislation like Single Payer gets only your scorn. You know what, El Som, I am asking you, as a fellow DL contributor, to leave this thread and not comment on it again.

    Thank you.

  14. Really? No. Suspend me. Seriously, if a legislator’s performance is either off limits and/or sacrosanct, then I’m posting at the wrong place.

    The attack, as you know, is not ad hominem. Do you really want me to go back and post lengthy diatribe after lengthy diatribe from him, or can I assume that readers have read more than a few of them over the years? Legislators stopped listening long ago.

    I might point out that YOU were the one who painted Kowalko as some sort of victim with all his legislation being held up. I pointed out that he is hardly consistent when it comes to his positions on reform legislation, and dared to make the argument that he is an ineffective legislator. Based upon his record, especially his failure to build coalitions.

    You don’t think that’s an argument worth making on this blog?

  15. Connie Merlet says:

    Oh my. Twice in one night. I really am not into this blog stuff, but this is just too personal.
    Since you have such a hard time understanding John, Steve, let me be crystal clear. I’ll make my sentences short for you.
    Perhaps, having been out of Dover and the insider halls, you are not as aware of what is happening as you think you are.
    Perhaps others have a different definition of effective than you do.
    Perhaps you believe that other legislators study, read, and reflect on the number and kinds of issues as much as John does.
    Perhaps you equate reform with progressive.
    Perhaps you think your “lengthy diatribes” are more worthy than his. Oh wait- because you are a blogger perhaps you think “lengthy diatribes” are okay for you but an actual elected official shouldn’t make his opinion known. (Because it’s too risky?)
    Yes, I’m the wife. But I’m also a constituent. And I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet I know my district better than you.

    You know, Steve, I’ve gotten the phone calls.

  16. Norinda says:

    State Rep. Kowalko is one of the most Progresive Democrats down there in legislative hall. His legislation, like Single Payor and Public School Education does not fit well in a Pro Corporate and Moderate Democratic state. Kowalko fights for the People-the Middle Class. Call him a Bernie Sanders-that’s alright with me!!
    I would like Progressive Legislation also include:
    Student Interest Loans & Student Debt
    UD increased tuition again
    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs !!! that pay a Prevailing Wage w/ benefits
    Insourcing instead of Outsourcing Jobs

  17. Nuttingham says:

    Paul Baumbach is a progressive legislator that can get important bills done and get debates properly framed from the start. When things don’t go his way, he doesn’t rip his colleagues personally in the paper or on the radio. He knows that as good as it may feel to let fly, and as nice as it may seem to be hailed as perfectly pure, he will need those colleagues’ votes in the future to get other bills done. He seems to get that at the end of the day, progress is made when bills actually become law.

    It’s a solid model for actual progress.

  18. Ms. Merlet. If by ‘others’, you mean other legislators, you are mistaken. While I am out of Dover, I am not out of touch with legislators. Many of whom are reformers, but who have been burned by Rep. Kowalko. Believe it or don’t believe it. It’s the truth.

    As far as John placing himself above other legislators, here are your own words:

    “Perhaps you believe that other legislators study, read, and reflect on the number and kinds of issues as much as John does.” That’s precisely the sort of claim that ‘other legislators’ resent. A lot of legislators actually study, read and reflect. Granted, a lot don’t, but what productive purpose does it serve to poke a stick in someone’s eye?

    As to the lengthy diatribes, I’ll leave it to the readers to decide what they’d rather read. But you’re right. A blogger has only their words to try to achieve results. A legislator, as one of 62, has to work effectively with other legislators. It’s a different game entirely.

  19. Davy says:

    Rep. Kowalko will not compromise, and his bills languish in committee.

    U.S. House Republicans will not compromise, and their bills languish in the senate.

    There are parallels.

  20. Delaware Dem says:

    The notion that Kowalko does not compromise is false. Case in point, his Lobbying Reform bill. In prior sessions, he offered a 2 year ban, but it did not get out of committee. So he negotiated with the leadership on a reform task force, and compromised by introducing only a 1 year ban. Little good it did him though, as his 2 year bill got coopted by the Republicans and his 1 year compromise languishes in committee.

    You people need to figure out what you want. You lambaste other Democrats in the General Assembly for compromising with Markell and you yearn for a progressive champion who stands on principle, and then when you get someone like that, you attack him for grandstanding and not compromising.

  21. Delaware Dem says:

    And El Som, the next time you post a blog, I will make sure to come into your comment thread and hijack it according to my own personal animus.

  22. SussexWatcher says:

    *Gets more popcorn*

    The kids don’t like it when mommy and daddy fight …

  23. AQC says:

    El Som, you’re my new hero!! Nothing against you DelDem, but I find PDD to be a terribly closed organization. I tried to get involved but it was as cliquish as a city committee meeting.

  24. Geez, DD, you posted about the triumphs/losses of progressive legislation in the recently-concluded session. You enumerated Kowalko’s bills. I made the case that at least part of the reason why Kowalko’s bills languished was b/c of the way he sets himself apart in Dover.

    I see that as on topic. But, YMMV.

    Davy: The difference should be obvious. In Delaware, both the House and Senate are in strong control of the D’s. I believe that a different approach could/would have led to more progressive legislation being enacted. What do I mean by a different approach? A more collaborative approach.

    BTW, I yearn for progressives who can pass stuff. Effectiveness is my criteria, not personal animus. Which, BTW, I do not have towards Kowalko. I know, however, that that doesn’t suit the meme.

  25. Tom McKenney says:

    El Som How dare you speak the truth.

  26. Look, John’s a real good guy and he has the best of intentions. We should all acknowledge that.

    But his unwillingness/inability to work collaboratively is exceedingly frustrating to me. In fact, what others characterize as animus, I would describe as extreme frustration.

    And, I’ve reluctantly concluded that John can’t/won’t change, it’s engrained in his DNA. A worthy progressive? Of course. An effective legislator? I just don’t see it.

  27. Delaware Dem says:

    Thank you for acknowledging that he is a good guy with the best of intentions. And while I will dispute that he does not work collaboratively (he does on many issues), there has to be at least someone in the House who stands for progressive principles, if only to provide a true progressive north for the Overton Window in the GA. And El Som, what has me so confused by your frustration with Kowalko is that you complain all the time that the Democrats in the GA too quickly compromise to advance the corporate interests of Governor Markell. Well…

    Can he be more effective? Sure? But how does he do that? By compromising away his principles? That’s the conundrum.

  28. Tom McKenney says:

    I too believe he has good intentions but , I believe many of his statements are self serving.

  29. No, I’d argue that he can be more effective by collaborating with other progressive legislators instead of setting himself up as, for lack of a better word, the hero. And, yes, there are other progressive legislators who are skilled at this art. There are other legislators who, while maybe not technically progressives, are receptive to such an approach and have voted for what we consider progressive legislation on numerous occasions. But when you play the role of the knight on a white steed, it just doesn’t work in the legislature. Largely because you are placing yourself above everybody else.

    Parenthetically, and I haven’t thought about this in years, you know who else claimed that he was the only legislator to read every word of every bill? Vince Meconi. If I remember, there was even a News-Journal article where he bragged about it. He lasted one term, and he was largely a Caucus of One by the end of that term. You need allies who trust you, and who you can trust. And, believe me, trust has to be earned.

    It’s not about compromising on principles or folding a hand when you’re in the strongest position (like the US Senate D’s do almost every day). It’s about how do you most effectively move a progressive agenda through the legislature. Which is all I really care about when it comes to this thread.

  30. Delaware Dem says:

    El Som, are you speaking from knowledge gained from interviews or conversations with those other progressive legislators, like Paul Baumbach or Bryan Townsend or Dave Sokola or Earl Jaques or Ed Osienski? Have they told you they resent John for acting as you say he acts, or have they told you they are frustrated by his alleged lack of collaboration?

    Maybe your frustration is with me, because I often highlight John’s sponsorship of bills and hold him out as a white knight or a hero. Because I have never seen John do that. Yes, he is in the news a lot, because he is often the only one who is willing to go public on consumer advocacy issues.

    And last I checked, John Kowalko has served more than one term. Your comparison with Vince Meconi was particularly self serving and almost slanderous on your part.

  31. AQC says:

    John has a nasty habit of blindsiding other Democratic legislators in public forums as opposed to discussing differences privately and professionally. I talk to lots of legislators and they don’t want to work with him because of his backstabbing. He is ineffective because he has no willingness to work cooperatively with others . Eventually, he and his wife will be the only ones left worshipping at that altar.

  32. Delaware Dem says:

    And I suspect the unnamed legislators you are allegedly speaking to are those that oppose his bills. Consider this situation: if John is not getting anywhere behind the scenes, are you saying he should just shut up and go home rather than speaking up?

  33. Geezer says:

    I would argue that while John Kowalko’s methods undermine his effectiveness as a legislator who moves bills through the assembly, he serves a greater good by bringing these issues out of the closed caucus and into the public light.

    In short, what’s good for the public isn’t necessarily what’s good for his career. It all depends on your priorities. I don’t care if he never gets a bill passed as long as he keeps pulling aside the curtain to give us glimpses of what’s really going on.

  34. Delaware Dem says:

    Indeed. I find this criticism of Kowalko from AQC and El Som to be particularly troubling from a progressive point of view. They are saying that going along to get along is the most important thing for a legislator, and if you stand for a certain policy, you have to remain quiet about it if others in your caucus disagree with you lest you make them angry and unwilling to work with you.

    That really is amazing. I never thought El Som would make Thurman Adams smile.

  35. cassandra_m says:

    They are saying that going along to get along is the most important thing for a legislator,

    Actually, I read them to say that getting along is an important attribute for a legislator. Neither of them said anything about *going along*.

  36. Delaware Dem says:

    Well, it’s a turn of phrase on my part, but in essence it is what they are saying. Getting along is not sufficient. To be an effective legislator, it is not enough to just get along with your fellow legislators, you also have to keep quiet about your policy preferences if others disagree with you lest you “backstab” your fellow legislators by speaking about it publicly. So that is the “going along” part.

  37. cassandra_m says:

    That’s a good deal of work to say that you want to argue a point that isn’t really on the table. El Som specifically talks about “collaboration”. MW Online has this definition of the word:

    : to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

    Working jointly or together isn’t an abdication of your policy preferences or principles — it is about working with other people to get as much of your preferences or principles baked in the cake.

  38. Mitch Crane says:

    I am compelled to respond. John Kowalko is not self-serving. I know this from personal experience. In 2009 I asked him to be Prime Sponsor on a Hospital Visitation bill I had drafted. The bill allowed competent adults to be visited by whoever they wish. Though the bill protects all, it was designed to help LGBT citizens who were denied the right to visit their partners, either by hospitals or family. John agreed to be Prime. Shortly after it was filed, John told me that passage of the bill in the House would be easier if someone less “controversial in the caucus” was Prime. John found someone else to take that role and he remained in the background. The bill passed and is now law. He never asked for credit and received none other than from Stonewall.

    I also have had disagreements with John from time to time and he always respected those disagreements, It has never been personal.

    He is a progressive and honest legislator. He is a zealot. We need true believers to make the rest of us check our consciences on issues before we agree to compromise.

  39. AQC says:

    I’m saying he does not talk to them behind the scenes about disagreement, but, instead waits until he’s in a public forum. Whether you like the guy or not, this is grandstanding. He has repeatedly done this. And, no, it is not just legislators that disagree with him. It is also some very progressive legislators.

  40. Delaware Dem says:

    Well, AQC, I have heard the exact opposite. I have heard, from John and other legislators and people who have met with John in his office, that he regularly meets with legislators and lobbyists for interest groups and regular citizens who both agree with him and disagree with him. Indeed, I have heard one story where one group met with him on a issue and John asked them to give him names of someone or some group that was 180 degrees on the other side of the issue from them, so that he can hear both sides of an issue. I know he has worked behind the scenes on issues with other legislators, and he has compromised and revised his bills so to accommodate other legislators and their wishes. Lobbying Reform is a case in point, but Single Payer Healthcare is another example, as he has delayed introducing that bill so as to not embarrass the leadership or other legislators, and he has delayed working up other bills for the same reason.

  41. Geezer says:

    “he does not talk to them behind the scenes about disagreement”

    Sorry, but talking to people behind the scenes means not letting the public know about disagreements among Democrats. I’m not interested in helping Democrats keep their deals secret.

  42. Nuttingham says:

    In 2009, every D but Atkins lined up to vote on a series of painful tax increases. They – particularly all of the new freshmen – knew that these votes could cost them badly. But they agreed to do it, because the corresponding cuts would be brutal.

    John decided, without any real warning, to break from the caucus and start telling people on the floor that he could never vote for the 2 cent beer tax because it would cost jobs and burden working people. Massive cheers from some groups in the hall. They had their hero.

    But if you were a freshman legislator from a swing district, your mouth dropped open as you could almost see the opposition mailers starting to get written.

    “Even Democrats say X Votes for job destroying, working family crushing taxes…”

    That is fine if the tax also passes because you get the upside of avoiding the cuts. But John’s breakaway performance put the freshman on the record for the vote and the tax still fell one vote short.

    Is it a trend? Was it just a one off?

  43. AQC says:

    Geezer, I have no problem with public disagreement if you have not been disingenuous about where you stand in private. It’s the blatant two facedness that gets me.

  44. John Kowalko says:


    You have absolutely no knowledge of my positions or intentions or statement of my positions or pronouncement of my positions whatsoever and I am challenging you, now, to prove any of my statements of fact as incorrect or disingenuous. If you have or have had access to my stances expressed in private, then I would be appreciative of proof of that presumption and if not please refrain from your wholly speculative and self-aggrandizing “in the know” accusations. “No-faced” (as opposed to two-faced), is certainly a more comfortable position to place oneself in then having to burden oneself with actual and reality based, verifiable facts. To simplify, I am calling “bull” on all of your innuendo and distortions and the challenge is to you to prove otherwise.

    Since I am on a diatribe/roll here.
    Dear “nuttingham”,

    You are either deliberately and/or ignorantly unaware of the facts surrounding my “breakaway” vote on the alcohol excise tax proposal and the very real fact that I sent an e-mail to the Governor (days prior to the vote) stating, unequivocally, that I would not be supporting the “alcohol excise tax” (with explanation) and had a personal sit-down with Majority Leader Schwartzkopf to express and convey that sentiment prior to that vote.
    I am not going to continue this debate or belabor the point with people who choose to pretend that they are “in the know” or personally acquainted with the facts so I will not be responding in this forum to your counterpoints bur will willingly answer to your counterpoints personally at

    John Kowalko

  45. Steve Newton says:

    One of the things, ironically, that I have found in common between John Kowalko and Paul Baumbach is that on every occasion I have approached either about an issue on which we agree, neither man has ever refused to discuss it and support it or not on its merits rather than simply discarding my opinion or position based on other issues about which we disagree (often vehemently). This was already acknowledged above by someone about Paul Baumbach, but I can say that it has also been my experience with John Kowalko; that would seem to be more important than “getting along”–the ability to find common ground where it does exist …

  46. AQC says:

    John, do you read the dictionary while drinking?

  47. Nuttingham says:

    My apologies for being, in your words, “ignorantly unaware” (which is a great phrase).

    You can take out the five words (“without any real warning” and “breakaway”) from my post.

  48. In response to DD, yes, I have spoken to legislators who should be natural allies of Kowalko’s. And, yes, they have expressed exasperation with the way he operates. I’m not gonna name names any more than I’ll name the names of legislators who John has personally trashed in conversations between he and I.

    DD also wrote: “… I often highlight John’s sponsorship of bills and hold him out as a white knight or a hero. Because I have never seen John do that.”

    Really? I honestly don’t know how to respond to that. Other than to say that you must be the only one who sees John as a shy and reticent person who consistently understates his own importance. I mean, seriously.

    Finally, DD wrote: “And last I checked, John Kowalko has served more than one term. Your comparison with Vince Meconi was particularly self serving and almost slanderous on your part.”

    Almost slanderous? Self serving? I was pointing out how someone who places themselves above others often ends up as a ‘Caucus of One’. I’ve lost track of your logic here. Kowalko is in danger of becoming a Caucus of One, if he hasn’t already done so.

    Look, I have no desire to keep hammering at this. But stuff like that can’t go unchallenged.

  49. SussexWatcher says:

    Ms. Merlet wrote earlier: “I don’t consider myself any more important or influential than any of the other steering committee members.”

    For the record, the PDD website says she is the vice-president and has been since February.

  50. I have no issue with how PDD operates currently. I appreciate the fact that PDD invited me to speak to them. Just want to make that clear. My issue goes back a few years, only applies to a couple of people, is water under the bridge, and should in no way discourage people from engaging with the organization.

  51. John Young says:

    After working earnestly for 18 years to destroy Delaware public education, why would anyone include Senator Sokola in any discussion about progressives. Seriously.

    Ask some of his colleagues off the record.

    They will rip him.

  52. Nuttingham says:

    John Y – are you willing to swear that Kowalko isn’t one of those legislators who rip his colleagues to you, or did you just inadvertently prove El Som’s point?

  53. I love the work DD did for this post and already told him so in an email.

    This thread is so disheartening, I didn’t want to even read most of it. But I did anyway.

    I would just say it is no surprise to see the vicious attacks on JK and scapegoating of him from fellow DEMs.

    I’ve seen this kind of attack before and more recently in the DEM convention post penned by Celia. I have been meaning to respond to her inaccurate characterization of the event and when I do, I will be quoting from some of these comments. John is not standing alone on these issues. At leg hall he has a solid block of supporters both in and out of elected office. We should be defending him and many of the commentors here do a marvelous job.

    But, for now, lookee here at Cohen’s contribution on the subject of redistricting legislation in Dover: AN OPEN AND SHUT DEBATE

  54. Nuttingham says:

    My first post on this pointed out that Paul was a great model for progressive legislators who want to get things done.

    While I was wrong about the amount of notice John gave his caucus, my second post pointed out that some legislators (and the people who volunteered for them) still remember that John was the only D (minus Atkins) to defect on a budget vote and did so using language that was particularly helpful to their opponents.

    My third was to apologize for the five words I got wrong in the second. Sorry again for that.

    The fourth was to point out that if John Young likes to run around making clear how close he is to Kowalko, he’s not really helping to post in a thread that became about whether Kowalko works well with others that the legislators Young knows like to trash a fellow state senator in private.

    Those don’t seem or sound like terrible attacks at all.

  55. liberals are fabulous! says:

    Minimum Wage Increase-kills jobs
    Opposing Cuts to Medicaid-going bankrupt
    Marriage Equality-total farce
    Death Penalty Repeal-Dems love death
    Gun Control Legislation- ineffective, while Wilmington kills itself
    Progressive Tax Rates- liberal clap trap
    Single Payer Healthcare-unworkable
    Lobbying Disclosure Reform-never will happen, Markell loves Lobbyists
    Independent Redistricting Reform- Markell lied on this one
    Amending the Anti-Discrimination Law to Include Transgendered Persons-joke
    Charter School Reform-government schools are a disaster
    No Excuse Absentee Voting-more garbage
    Manufactured Home Rent Justification-socialism

    Progressive= destroy America and hate success so we can all be POOR and STUPID

  56. Geezer says:

    “Progressive= destroy America and hate success so we can all be POOR and STUPID”

    So now you’re blaming your own poverty and stupidity on progressives? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    Y’know, Mike, the reason you’ll never be elected to anything is your frequent outbreaks of such public stupidity. Your post says nothing that we didn’t already know — conservatives look only backwards and ridicule the many, many things they don’t understand. There’s not a logical or informational thought in the whole post.

    You are the reason Republicans have fallen into their current position in this state. Until you started your ugly campaigns against Republicans less conservative than you, Republicans were elected to statewide office. Once the public got a taste of your combination of ignorance, nastiness and pettiness — a combination that might as well be called the GOP cocktail, since it’s popular all over the country — they have won nothing in Delaware.

    Every Democrat in Delaware — at least those who are happy not to face effective GOP opposition on election day — owes you a debt of gratitude.

  57. Liberal Elite says:

    Minimum Wage Increase-kills jobs = But raises nearly everyone up (except the 1%)
    Opposing Cuts to Medicaid-going bankrupt = Medicaid isn’t a company. Sure beats “just go get sick and die” mantra from the Tea Party
    Marriage Equality-total farce = You exercise rights I think are a farce too, but equal rights are for everyone.
    Death Penalty Repeal-Dems love death = When the racists get out of death penalty deliberations, I’ll be for it. Racists suck.
    Gun Control Legislation- ineffective, while Wilmington kills itself = Blame the gun nuts. Gun mayhem really is their fault.
    Progressive Tax Rates- liberal clap trap = Rich people get most of the benefit of govt… SHould pay fair share.
    Single Payer Healthcare-unworkable = Except everywhere other than America. Only not here due to “legal” corruption and lobbying.
    Lobbying Disclosure Reform-never will happen, Markell loves Lobbyists
    Independent Redistricting Reform- Markell lied on this one = Yea. Let’s all support “legal” corruption.
    Amending the Anti-Discrimination Law to Include Transgendered Persons-joke = Yea… Let’s discriminate against people like the good old days.
    Charter School Reform-government schools are a disaster = So are private charter schools (bad quality, promotes racism,…)
    No Excuse Absentee Voting-more garbage = Seems to work nearly everywhere else.
    Manufactured Home Rent Justification-socialism = Yes, but good socialism.

  58. Tom McKenney says:

    laf.. take a break from posting and reline your hats with tinfoil.