Delaware Political Weekly: June 7-13, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 13, 2014

1. Carney Files, Faces Progressive Challenge!

US Rep. John Carney (‘D’-DE), armed with a fat corporate bankroll and a headful of ideas that are driving me insane,  has filed for reelection. The headful of ideas, of course, comes from Pete Peterson, billionaire and austerity guru, not from, say, real Democrats.  DL founder Jason Scott has been publicly considering a challenge to Carney, and appears poised to mount a ‘limited scope’ run against Carney:

Am I sure this limited scope candidacy is worth the effort and do I realize that I’m opening a can of worms? I’ve discussed that in this thread. Ultimately, who knows how much, if any impact this will have. I realize that this might be a huge mistake, but I feel like I have to try something to break through the deficit mania and “Cut and Grow” economic idiocy that Carney has adopted.

Not only do I support Jason, but I hope that ‘limited scope’ candidacy takes root and becomes less limited as more and more D’s realize that Carney does not represent the principles of the Democratic Party. He has been an abject disappointment to those of us who like him personally. He has become haughty and dismissive of those who push for progress. Time to dismiss him. Besides, he has a perfect job awaiting him: Secretary of State under the next Governor. Those corporate escape artists are who he represents now. Jason For Congress!

2. Chip Flowers Creates Yet Another Issue For Himself

So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. In order to ‘save the state money’, Delaware’s Most Ethical State Employee has cut deals with seven banks, all of whom manage state $$’s, to pay for his travel expenses and those of his staff. $5K per bank, times 7. $35,000 in travel expenses. Which is a lot of travel expenses. I would call this extortion were Flowers not so ethical. He, of course, is once again changing the subject. This issue isn’t/wasn’t that he traveled, it is/was that he was unable to account for how much he spent and who paid for it. If a treasurer can’t account for his own expenses, how can he account for the state’s finances?

3. I’m Not Loving Sean Barney’s Campaign

I got an e-blast from him yesterday. He’s been endorsed by a buncha lawyers. I like some of those lawyers. I don’t give two bleeps that they’ve endorsed him. He used some of the same boilerplate that I can’t stand when it comes to our Corporate Bar:

Our legal community in Delaware inspires trust and confidence the world over because of its reputation for upholding the highest standards of professional responsibility. Moreover, Delaware’s bar is exceptional in the manner in which it pairs the highest expectations of competence with the highest expectations of collegiality.

Computer-generated boilerplate.

I have people telling me on the QT that Sean Barney is really one of us. As in progressive. But he is running a risk-averse campaign where all we learn about him is about his military service, his high school schools initiative, and the fact that he’s been endorsed by a lot of the usual suspects. Haven’t even heard a dog-whistle from him to create any enthusiasm. I want to see Chip Flowers gone. But I don’t want another Carneyesque figure on the rise. And I’m not trusting anybody any more when it comes to wink-wink nudge-nudge. I’m not looking for a fire-breathing populist here, just someone with a pulse and a conscience. I mean, it’s not as if supporting progressive principles is gonna cost him votes in the primary.

2. Lotsa Filings

Sen. Greg Lavelle (R-4th SD); Rep. Becky Walker (D-9th RD); NCC Councilman Bob Weiner (R-3rd CD); and Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Glen Howell (R-6th District).

3. R Primary in Sussex Council District.

Incumbent George Cole, who had reportedly been undecided on whether to run again, has filed for reelection for his 4th Councilmanic District. He faces R William Carroll in the September primary. The winner squares off against D Shirley Price in November.

That’s all I got. What’d I miss, and whaddayathink?

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  1. jason330 says:

    If we can make the $300k that Carney is getting from the financial services industry a little toxic, if we can get him to renounce the ‘Fix the Debt’ crowd and somehow prevent Carney from sitting down with Koch brother’s lobbyists to plot strategy in the next session – we will have accomplished something.

  2. SussexAnon says:

    If Barney is Progressive, then he is the Manchurian Candidate in this race.

  3. mediawatch says:

    The record of the past 20 years shows that state treasurer is nothing more than a launching pad for gubernatorial hopefuls. Neither Carper nor Markell qualify as a progressive, and there’s no reason to think their policy advisor clone will either.
    My first choice for treasurer would be the candidate who pledges to seek a constitutional amendment to eliminate the position as an elected office.
    Should no one step forward with such a proposal, I’d be inclined to vote for the candidate with the stronger background in financial management.

  4. LovesHerWine says:

    Who other than Markell went from Treasurer to Governor? Yes, Carper was Treasurer, but he went to the House from Treasurer. What is this “Treasurer is a launching pad to Governor” drivel. Sounds like group think rather than an actual sound assessment.

  5. cassandra_m says:

    I really scratch my head over Flowers asking the banks to pay for him and his staff to audit the firms that manage Delaware’s money. Because while he is running around denouncing the Delaware Way and what he sees as cronyism among these banks and certain Delaware players — taking money to (nudge, nudge, wink wink) oversee these banks puts him square in the Delaware Way cronyism game. And for all of his newfound fondness for transparency for folks on the Board, there is NONE built into this new bit of pay for play. Or Pay for Oversee (sorta). It’s more State Treasurer Theater.

  6. liberalgeek says:

    Carper and Markell are certainly examples. Also, Rzewnicki ran for Governor and lost while still in office. Also, in the 70’s Emily Womach ran while she served (and lost).

    So 4 out of the last 5 elected to office (not counting Flowers) have at least run for Governor. Carper is the only one that held an office in-between.

  7. Jason330 says:

    Maybe I should have just texted you that…

  8. PluribusUnum says:

    Having companies pay for examinations is VERY common, ask anyone who has to be examined by the Bank commissioner. The alternative is the taxpayers end up paying for trips to NYC, etc., frankly, the financial institutions should bear the costs of compliance. The fact that they weren’t before Chip is really surprising. It’s also surprising that so-called progressives are siding with the chamber and big banks on this….

    There’s a lot to criticize Chip for but this isn’t a great example.

  9. cassandra_m says:

    The bank examination fees are based pretty specifically on the actual costs borne by the commissioner. It isn’t some random dollar figure that is being collected whether it gets used or not and whether it is covering some actual cost or not. And for what the Treasurer needs to review, he should just have these banks come to him. He isn’t running anywhere near something of the complexity of a bank examination.

  10. LovesHerWine says:

    Lol Liberalgeek, that doesn’t really sounds like a stepping stone to the Governorship then, especially being that only one person has run as the sitting Treasurer and won. We’ve actually had more people run as the sitting LG and win. Castle and Minner come to mind. Dale Wolf became Governor for like a week. Carney ran and lost by like 1,000 votes. The same amount (1) have run as a sitting Congressman and won in that time period. Could we call it a steppingstone for “Running for Governor” rather than a steppingstone for “Being Governor”? Throughout history there are not too many examples of former treasurer governors in DE. ijs

  11. LovesHerWine says:

    Forgot to mention Tribbet was also LG before he became Gov.

  12. liberalgeek says:

    I doubt that anyone would suggest that Lt. Governor isn’t another common path to the Governor’s office.

    Treasurer is a less intuitive, yet common launchpad for gubernatorial aspirants. I suspect that being offset by 2 years of the presidential election helps since there is a possibility of running for one, while safely ensconced in the other.

  13. anon says:

    His expenses were illegal. Sean will never steal from us.

  14. John Young says:

    Sean will never steal from us.

    Veracity aside, any candidate running on a platform of “I am going to steal” ever win? yet, some steal.

  15. cassandra_m says:

    Treasurer is a less intuitive, yet common launchpad for gubernatorial aspirants.

    What you get in the Treasurer’s office is time to build a network, it seems. This isn’t an especially demanding job, and being everywhere, building goodwill and building a network would be relatively easy to do from here since little is expected from you and it is hard to screw up. Until now.

  16. puck says:

    Barney is the Great White Hope.

  17. Nuttingham says:

    Lt Governor is a much better platform to run for Governor than Treasurer is. You have to think that Chip would have been a shoo-in to be the Lt Gov candidate in ’16 under Biden had he not enjoyed the taste of his own foot in his mouth quite so much.

    Now, even if he survives Barney and Simpler, what democratic office holder would be afraid to primary him?

  18. kavips says:

    In response to the first question… you need just 500 donors giving the max $600 to get to $300,000…..

  19. Nuttingham says:

    No, you need 115 giving the federal limit of $2,600.

  20. Pete Peterson has no doubt already lined up that many moneyed mindless minions to max out to ‘Carny’.

  21. Well, look what popped up in my e-inbox yesterday:

    “Working with our Youth

    Dear Steve,
    Our inequality gaps nationally and in Delaware can hit our youngest citizens the hardest. I am dedicated to Delaware’s next generations and cultivating experiences and opportunities for them now and as State Treasurer.

    I told you about my early work in community service, but it was this launch pad of learning about the social and economic issues around me that motivated me to go on to college and ultimately study law, public policy, and economics at Yale Law School and then Harvard Kennedy School. We need to make sure that as many Delawareans as possible have the ability to get the training and education they need to be financially secure.

    We can and should emulate strong mentors such as Tony Allen, who has helped Delaware youth for his entire career. Join me and young Delaware leaders such Sarah McBride, Rebecca Powers, and Roddy Flynn and connect with our campaign on Facebook or Twitter.

    “Sean Barney comes by public service honestly. He has quite literally risked his life to preserve the thing I hold most dear about this great country … the un-ending quest toward ‘a more perfect union.’ Like all of our military veterans, that makes him a special American.
    What makes Sean a special candidate is his clear desire to make our community and our country better for all of its citizens. He’s seen what happens when the least advantaged among us go without adequate education or healthcare or job readiness or financial stability. He has made it his mission to make others understand that remaining silent on these issues has dramatic consequences for all of us.

    I am supporting Sean’s candidacy because that kind of vision and personal accountability, particularly at the start of a political career, can make the difference when it really matters.”

    –Tony Allen is the Whitney M. Young Awardee for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor and a Co-Founder of Public Allies-Delaware, a full-time apprenticeship for young adults interest in public service careers

    “I care deeply about Delaware and am proud to always call myself a Delawarean. Sean is driven, as I am, by the desire to make our state strong for generations to come. Given his background, he knows how to build bridges between different communities in our state and be a true consensus builder. His courage, integrity, and experience make him more than just qualified for the job, they make him the right choice.”
    –Sarah McBride, Delaware Advocate, 2014 Trans 100, and MVP, DelawareLiberal

    “I am a pacifist and a progressive and I support Sean Barney for Treasurer. The story of why Sean served—out of moral obligation to share a burden of risk shouldered unequally in our country—resonated with me. With a studied understanding of his merits and qualifications I know Sean is a person of deep social conviction who will manage our revenue to better all Delawareans.”

    –Rebecca Powers, President, Delaware Chapter, National Organization of Women

  22. puck says:

    “a person of deep social conviction who will manage our revenue to better all Delawareans.”

    Nice assertion, but I’d like to see a little more meat on those bones, please. How is Barney’s plan better than what we have now – with specific reference to a revenue management plan. Snarky references to old paid-off credit card debt will be considered an evasion.

  23. ‘Snarky references to old paid-off credit card debt will be considered an evasion.’

    By you, perhaps. But Flowers’ own ongoing self-inflicted wounds tell me that he hasn’t learned his lesson. Or ANY lesson, for that matter. Get the banks to pay for up to $35K of travel expenses for a state office holder? Smarmy and unethical.

  24. cassandra_m says:

    Sort of odd that you would ask that here — perhaps you could ask Ms. Powers that and get back to us.

    But El Som is quite right about the self-inflicted wounds and the persistent habit of digging holes even deeper. That basic incompetence alone ought to be plenty to send him packing. And if this were Tom Wagner we were talking about, you’d get that.

  25. puck says:

    So two of DL’s best investigative bloggers couldn’t find Barney’s revenue plan. I think that speaks volumes about the assertion “a person of deep social conviction who will manage our revenue to better all Delawareans.”

  26. cassandra_m says:

    You can just say that you can’t be bothered to ask the person who made the comment you had a question about her comment. We already knew you wouldn’t ask her.

    But there is a reason for that. What you do know — even though you continue to pretend that this doesn’t exist — is that the revenue plan for Delaware’s cash accounts is fairly well prescribed by statute. What you have never been able to do is make the case for why ignoring that statute is supposed to be a good thing for Delaware’s cash accounts or for taxpayers. Never. If you think that there is a better way, then get Flowers to present his spreadsheets because maybe the GA might be convinced too. But hey, easier to claim that the Man is Keepin’ Me Down BS that to make an argument for a different approach.

    Because there isn’t a different approach. There is just a badly botched fight for control of these funds. Control that he was never going to get — certainly not be the incompetent way he’s gone at it.

  27. hmm says:

    It’s June. The election is in September…

  28. puck says:

    It’s June. The election is in September…

    Exactly. Time to evaluate campaign claims, including those made by surrogates, before they take root in a media blitz.

  29. I agree, Puck. Anything to take the spotlight off of inconvenient facts.

    Flowers’ problem is, that, if Barney says he won’t be a screw-up like Flowers was, Flowers can’t plausibly argue that he wasn’t a screw-up.

    To me, that’s game/set/match. Which is why he and his ‘surrogates’ now try to change the subject.

  30. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Like it or not Sean Barney’s strategy is spot on.

    Flowers is his own worst enemy. His every step seems almost intentionally designed to demean/devalue him. Against that backdrop, why should Barney open up any discussion with Flowers. Doing so opens Barney up to challenge and/or criticism. Barney should stick to his irrelevant military service, encourage others to speak for/about him and keep squeezing for endorsements.

    Less said, the better. Let Flowers implode.

  31. You’re probably right. The only concern would be that Barney approaches Carney in blandness (so far, I think he does), and people don’t bother to come out to vote for him. Now, I don’t know if Flowers has enough of a core to win in such a contest, but there is at least some risk in the strategy you’ve laid out.

  32. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Legitimate concern that Barney puts too many people too sleep and too few vote for him. That said, Flowers has such remarkable widespread disapproval, I suspect that many will vote for Barney simple because he isn’t Flowers, i.e., Flowers loses the election more than Barney wins it.

  33. Nuttingham says:

    On twitter Chip (or whatever mystery staffer he’ll invent to take the blame for it) praised Cantor’s tea party opponent as “proof that negative attacks don’t trump ideas” and said in a follow up that “lessons can be learned from any race.”

    What lessons, exactly? Beyond don’t charge hundreds of thousand of dollars in steak and don’t spend so much time out of the district?

  34. John Manifold says:

    There’s merit in launching a campaign premised on what a good guy you are, when the opponent has bad press and controversy. It worked for challengers like Gebelein and Carper. At some point, the scimitar will have to be drawn, but it’s good to become known first.

    El and Aint are right that we’ll eventually need to taste some ginger or red pepper or garlic in the sauce or the menu won’t get many passionate referrals.

    And my in-box just told me that John Brady, Cassandra, Rebecca, Calistro, Jacques, Sokola, Jolly Joe, plus some Kent, LGBT and labor folks have all endorsed Barney. Some folks are hard at work.

  35. Yep. Barney gets my vote for the primary b/c he’s Not Chip. But I’m not buyin’ that he’s different than Carper and Carney until/unless he convinces me. Surrogates don’t count, even good surrogates.

    Hey, if I think he’s another Carper or Carney, I’ll vote for the R in the fall. After all, HE’d almost assuredly be an upgrade over Chip.