The case for Chip Flowers

Filed in National by on June 27, 2014

There is no case for voting for Chip Flowers. However, I think there can be a case for voting against Sean Barney. For all his merits (and his merits are many) he is still a Carper man through and through. Do we really need anther mobbed up Carper guy on a glide path to the promised land of corporate back-scratch-a-palooza?

I probably will not run against Carney. I don’t have the guts or the time. If I don’t run, I will not have any way to register my disgust with the corporatist Democrats who run Delaware. The one vanishingly small gesture I can make is to vote against Tom Carper’s pick for treasurer.

About the Author ()

Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (48)

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  1. painesme says:

    I would like to think that I’m judged by the quality of my character, not the quality of my company. I try to extend the same courtesy to others, particularly those running for office. Delaware politics is supposedly a very cordial place, and you don’t get things done by being a pain in the ass (like some treasurers).

    His ties to Carper aside and strictly on the merits, Barney wins. I’d rather have someone serious in there doing the job, and Chip doesn’t seem like he’s taken it seriously – how long did it take him to figure out what his office is actually empowered to do? How long did it take him to get his and his staffs’ expense accounts in order? Are they even in order now? These are not hallmarks of a competent public official. Chip has had four years now to show us what he can do. I’m not particularly impressed.

  2. painesme says:

    Also – really disappointing that you’re backing down from the run, but it’s not like I have any high ground from which to speak. I think I speak for a lot of people here when I say I was looking forward to that campaign.

  3. auntie dem says:

    Jason,
    It would have been fun to see you use the bully pulpit and the WNJ would have had a lot of fun with it too. Still, you have made a wise decision. Someday the timing will be better and you don’t need to be carrying a lot of baggage when that time comes. It’s politics and things can turn on a dime. Be ready.

  4. cassandra m says:

    he is still a Carper man through and through.

    This I’d like to see the case for. Specifics, please. And it needs to be more than the fact that he worked for Carper and that Carper endorsed him today.

  5. auntie dem says:

    Oh, also Jason,
    I like Sean Barney. From what I’ve observed he marches to his own drummer. You can’t stick him in a category. He’s all Sean.

  6. kavips says:

    Auntie Dem is right. This year your campaign would be panned as a joke, and that might extend towards progressivism in general….

    Conservatism is “the joke” this year… They shut down government for nothing. They laid 3 million Americans off unemployment. We do not need any distraction in our efforts to hold the News Journal and state news organizations accountable to truth whenever it comes to Conservatism…. They have passed zero items to make America better; have shut down 1000 bills which would have made this nation prosperous again.

    In this election year… the real goal is to show conservatism for what it is… (Your money if willing to be spent, would be better spent in Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, etc… )

  7. Unstable Isotope says:

    Honestly, I think you are better off saving your money by not running against Carney. If you’re going to make a serious run, I think you start plotting now for a run in 2 years.

    As for Barney, it strikes me as a big deal that Carper has endorsed him.

  8. Talk about burying the lede. I was really hoping you would run.

    As to Barney, if he is sending out dog whistles, they’ve all gone out to the same people who prop up the Carneys and Carpers of our party.

    I’ve heard enough from the surrogates, who are people I respect. I want to hear something from him that makes me enthusiastic. Other than he’s ‘Not Chip’. He’s playing more of an inside endorsement game. How did that work out for Mitch Crane, who had progressive bona fides?

    While I’ll never vote for Chip Flowers, I’m fast reaching the point of not voting for Barney, either. More and more, he’s at least playing the part of a Carper clone. We can afford that even less than we can afford Chip Flowers. Flowers ain’t going anywhere. Barney could. With the enthusiastic backing of Carper and Carney.

  9. Velvet Jones says:

    “I don’t have the guts or the time.” Pretty much sums it up.

  10. Norinda says:

    I would hope people of Delaware vote on the State Treasurer’s Performance and Outcomes.

    “Chip doesn’t seem like he’s taken it seriously – how long did it take him to figure out what his office is actually empowered to do”

    Back up your statement? Chip Flowers has…
    Manages $2 billion state investment portfolio and increasing it by over $44
    million during a down Economy.
    The state has maintained AAA Bond Rating

    What has Sean Barney done in his political career thus far? I say, the stakes are high!

    Jason, You have nothing to loose- the experience can help you build a base for
    an opportunity to get elected in the future as a ‘ Real Progressive Democrat’. You may be surprised of the outcome-chip into those votes……

  11. In The Know says:

    If Barney were running for adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, I’d vote for him based on his war record. It has nothing to do with running for Treasurer.
    Reputable people advised Flowers to build relationships with other elected officials and demonstrate his ability to run the Treasury smoothly before moving full speed ahead on his reform programs. We saw how that worked out.
    At this point, I’m inclined to believe the best candidate for treasurer is the Republican. And, from what I can tell, there’s very little of a political nature that a treasurer can expect to accomplish. A treasurer who manages the office well is far more likely to win the respect of the legislators whose support is needed to enact significant changes in the office’s duties and responsibilities.

  12. cassandra m says:

    Manages $2 billion state investment portfolio and increasing it by over $44
    million during a down Economy.

    He doesn’t manage the state’s investment portfolio — the Cash Management Board does. And the 44M return is about 2%, which isn’t particularly good even in this down economy. However, if you think about the extensive restrictions on how the state’s cash accounts can be invested, the 2% is better than most jumbo money markets, but then, the Board manages these accounts for safety, liquidity and yield.

    And the Treasurer doesn’t have much to do with the State’s Bond Rating. The state manages its budget and its credit well, which is how they get the better rating.

  13. Geezer says:

    “I would like to think that I’m judged by the quality of my character, not the quality of my company.”

    In politics, your company is your character. John Carney is a great guy, but he’s an economic conservative down to his bones. I’ve seen Tom Carper do some truly compassionate things, but his every political instinct is aimed at the 1%. Chris Coons is incredibly smart, but he has the courage of a rabbit.

    I voted for all three because of their character. How’s that working out?

  14. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Wasting your vote.

    As between two alternatives you see as bad, one has to be better than the other. Holding your nose in the voting booth is a time honored tradition.

  15. John Manifold says:

    One purpose of an election is to elect good people. Sometimes that means Al Franken; more often, it means Mary Landrieu.

    Another purpose of an election is to remove bad or dangerous persons from office. Flowers is clearly dangerous, and if he earns a second term in a statewide office whose only purpose is as a launching pad, we could be see this self-absorbed mediocrity in a position where he could do major damage.

    Flowers has no ascertainable principles, no political bedrock, no socio-economic ideals. His writings and TV commentary before his candidacy were vapid. If this were 1982, he’d be running as a Republican. When Flowers wears golf spikes, I see Tom Spruance.

    I’ve not met Barney, and want to learn more beyond his curious resume and fascinating list of endorsers, http://www.barneyforde.com/endorsements.html, but it would take catatonic news to convince me not to vote for him.

  16. John Manifold wrote:

    “Another purpose of an election is to remove bad or dangerous persons from office.”

    I think that having Carper and Carney in federal elective office is bad and, in some ways, dangerous. If I perceive Sean Barney as being very much in their image, and a possible successor to either, what should I do?

  17. puck says:

    We all agree the Treasurer’s office is a launchpad. So, who do you most NOT want to see launched? Think carefully. I personally don’t want Chip to run for higher office, unless he shows us something more. And we pretty much agree he won’t be elected to higher office. But I am perfectly happy to have him as Treasurer. I love how Chip challenged the good old boy network, and I hate how the media and Dem establishment politics of personal destruction that was unleashed. It gets my contrarian goat going. Who else is going to stick his thumb in the eye of the bankers who are divying up Delaware’s funds and making their own rules?

    If Barney wins the primary, I will seriously consider voting for the Republican, so as not to reward Markell, Carper, and cronies for their politics of personal destruction.

    P.S… Was the disclosure requirement for CMPB ever passed and signed? I recall it was, but now I can’t find mention of it. If so – that is a solid good-government achievement that would not have happened without Flowers shining the light on the board.

  18. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    You’re too smart to be asking the question.

  19. cassandra m says:

    If I perceive Sean Barney as being very much in their image, and a possible successor to either, what should I do?

    With nothing to back that up, besides past associations. And the lack of sufficient dog whistles. And yet! Here we have puck who finds all kinds of progressive cred in the incompetent Chip.

  20. John Kowalko says:

    puck,
    “P.S… Was the disclosure requirement for CMPB ever passed and signed? I recall it was, but now I can’t find mention of it. If so – that is a solid good-government achievement that would not have happened without Flowers shining the light on the board”.
    No, no, no, unfortunately. A bill accomplishing this came out of the Joint Sunset Committee and I signed on to this necessary and good legislation. Normally JSC bills are worked and passed (especially the good ones like this) with no problem. With leadership’s commitment (in prior discussions and on the floor) that if this matter would be brought for a full-vote if it came out of JSC. I am befuddled and angry that such a public promise (regarding a good government, responsible transparency bill) would be deliberately disregarded and ignored. I don’t see it on any of todays agendas and if it is not worked I intend to bring it back in January. No one can weave the manufactured fantasy that Mr. Flowers benefits from this or is covering anything up for personal reasons. In fact all of those consumed with such antagonistic personal hatred for Chip, (generated in part by some political leaders personal vindictiveness and the”politics of distraction”) should at least agree that this is a necessary and useful piece of legislation.

    Respectfully,
    Representative John Kowalko

  21. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Respectfully disagree.

    If the CMPB disclosure bill passed before the primary/election, Flowers would be tooting his horn loudly and frequently about how he made this happen – never mind the Legislature. Kind of like he lays claim for generating 40M of investment income – never mind he had little or nothing to do with that.

    So I’m guessing that delay on the CMPB disclosure bill is simply an effort to deny the Chipster the ability, during the election cycle, to claim he made a difference, or to tout any tangible accomplishment?

  22. Geezer says:

    “With nothing to back that up, besides past associations”

    Sean Barney could dispel any such concerns by addressing them. The fact that he doesn’t speaks plenty loud to me.

    Better an actual Republican than a Carperite.

  23. cassandra m says:

    If you ever talked with him about that, you wouldn’t hear a Carperite.

    The real problem here is that people are looking for “progressiveness” for an office that doesn’t give you any opportunity for that. When Chip was running, lots of people were pretty wary of his ambitions to take on some of the job of the Finance Department (and we should have been more than wary) and now we have people demanding progressive cred for a job that has no opportunity for it.

    But the real conversation that we are avoiding here is how to not just support progressive candidates, but how to insist on progressive policy from those who send out the right dogwhistles. Right now, we have a crew of progressives who are asking for dogwhistles (and that was the exact word I heard on Saturday) without having any capacity whatsoever to ask for more than that. Jack Markell dogwhistled like crazy and got massive support from progressives and proceeded to largely disappoint once the governing started. But this frustration over “not hearing” the right progressive words from Barney (whatever that might be in the context of the Treasurer’s office — because the people who are looking for this can’t define that) is a proxy for the conversation progressives really ought to be having — and that is how to translate electoral support into governing accountability.

  24. Geezer says:

    My objections are just as much over his waving of his bloody shirt. I don’t vote for people who trumpet their military service, I vote against them.

    Given that the job allows for no progressive actions, it’s all the more reason to listen for progressive talk. Since I’m not hearing any, I’m not interested.

  25. Bane says:

    John Kolwalko has the best comment on the thread. Ain’t Taking It No More… why shouldn’t Chip take credit for a bill that he went to mattresses against the governor and Dem Leadership for? You guys always want someone to stand against the Carpers, Markells, Hate him or love him, the guy has balls. Which is more than I can say for other politicians in this state (except John Kowalko). It’s a political lynching if you ask me. Carper hasn’t endorsed a primary candidate EVER!!! If you believe that the impassioned endorsement from Carper doesn’t tell you all you need to know about Barney’s politics, I also have a bridge to sell you.

  26. Geezer says:

    You have a good point, Bane. I guess the takeaway is that you have to be as crazy as Chip Flowers to go against them, because they will try to squash you. Not as effectively as the Gordon-Biden team squashes people, but they’ll try.

  27. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Not saying that Flowers shouldn’t take credit. He’d take it if he could. The thing is that he can’t because others are denying him that glory. Law should pass – Flowers notwithstanding.

    Don’t buy for one moment that Flowers was doomed by the Democratic establishment. Flowers was doomed by Flowers. Others merely shined the light on him as he tripped over his mis-matched feet. The establishment didn’t lose receipts, didn’t take trips with another women and refuse to disclose the business purpose, didn’t double down when he should have shut-up, did create his tone deafness, did take credit for stuff he didn’t actually do. That was all Flowers’ doing.

  28. cassandra m says:

    Word.

    I don’t buy that Flowers was doomed by the Democratic establishment, either.

  29. Nuttingham says:

    So what does the ideal “progressive treasurer” look or sound like, beyond not having the approval of the congressional delegation?

    And if the concern is not giving a “launching pad” to somebody who Tom Carper seems to like personally because he worked really hard for him, shouldn’t we be concerned about giving a statewide “launch” to a wealthy Republican whose new prominence might eventually drive our statewides even more to the middle to stop him from challenging them?

    Or do we think that having barely scraped by Colin Bonini, Chip will somehow be assured of a win against a wealthy republican with no voting record to pick clean?

  30. painesme says:

    I also don’t buy the “Flowers was doomed by the establishment” narrative either. Flowers plays the victim a little too much in the press.

    Norinda -

    Your other two points have been pretty clearly demonstrated that Chip was not responsible for it. The best piece of legislation that he proposed also went nowhere. Proof that he didn’t know what he was doing when he first took office? How about that he ran on a platform that the office didn’t have the ability to enact?

    “Who else is going to stick his thumb in the eye of the bankers who are divying up Delaware’s funds and making their own rules?”

    You mean Chip, the guy who charged an Alaskan vacation to the company credit card and then reimbursed the state only after he was caught? It sounds like he’s either divvying up Delaware’s funds already or he’s too incompetent to enforce practical expense procedures. Hope he enjoyed his free loan from the state. Making their own rules indeed.

  31. Nuttingham says:

    Yep. Sticking a thumb in the eye of the banks… and then demanding thousands of dollars in a travel slush fund for the privilege from those banks.

  32. Bane says:

    Cass, While I agree that Chip did some boneheaded stuff, to act as though this did not stem from the Governors office and the establishment pushing back on Chip challenging the good ole boy network would be naive.

    This thing that Chip went through was handled poorly, without doubt. However, some of the stuff he has been accused of, if completely factual, would elevate this situation to a legal matter. This has not happened. So if you want me to believe that this guy is Nucky Thompson, I need to hear about grand jury summons and charges being filed.

    The argument over personal vs state use of credit cards happens in every department in every state. Sometimes charges get paid back late when it is determined that the fight to have the charges reclassified is futile. It is not uncommon. This can be recognized by the fact that the Dept of Finance sat on this information for more than a year before releasing it…. WHICH THEY WOULD RARELY RELEASE UNLESS THERE WERE A CHARGE OF ILLEGAL ACTIVITY, WHICH THERE WAS NOT. This would lead a thinking person to ask; Why would an agency release information to the newspaper about a conflict with a department if the conflict was not worthy of legal charges? Coincidentally, the info was released after Chip first began having spats with the board and the Governor regarding the state’s finances and the members individual business relationships.

    He stood against the governor and the legislature in favor of something that I support. Something that most people on this blog would support if the messenger were not Chip Flowers. The Governor and the Legislature have recanted on the idea of open government and somehow people have chosen not to blame the legislators and political interests that Rep Kowalko has mentioned above. These people get a pass? If Carney, Carper, or Coons did something similar you’d be begging for a primary.

    Coincidentally, Chip gets a primary opponent from Markell’s staff. I mean at this point Jack isn’t even trying to hide it. Someone from his staff runs against Chip in the primary. Gets endorsements from the establishment of the party and US Senator Tom Carper. Tom Carper never endorses in primaries. A rule so tight that he didn’t even endorse his hand picked candidate for governor (Carney) in the 2008 primary. But the rule gets bent in this scenario….. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Flowers’ attacked the banking community and the establishment attacked back.

    What is more surprising is that the groups and people (Other than John Kowalko) who would typically be on the side of who ever is sticking a finger in the eye of the establishment, is siding with the establishment on this issue.

    But Cass, if you say that we should listen to Barney. If you say that he is not like the people who have hand picked him, I guess some people will listen to you. However, with all due respect, I will not.

  33. LovesHerWine says:

    A lot to digest Bane. But I agree. I never lost a moment of sleep on the credit card story. It seemed so trivial. However, people’s reaction was as though he stole millions from the pension fund, took a dump on the state constitution, and then wiped his arse with the state flag. I didn’t understand. Didn’t seem like it was any there there.

    I was disturbed though when I opened the NJ and saw an ex cops speaker of the house and his partner doing the Govs bidding and questioning the first black statewide “elected” like some bum on the street. Asking him if he could read? Just crossed the line for me. I could never support the other side in this debate.

  34. cassandra m says:

    I haven’t said anyone should listen to Barney, just that they should talk with him to get their issues addressed. But hey, this is how it goes with people who are hip-deep in the Chip Flowers kool-aid. They make up all kinds of stuff that they can argue against.

    The establishment is not the problem here. The problem is a politician whose political skills are so lacking that he couldn’t stop being a target. The credit card thing was a big deal to very many people — it indicates a deep and abiding disrespect for the use of Delaware taxpayer funds. And if this is the usual behavior (as you suggest) then that is even more reason for him (and many others) to be gone. If he isn’t monitoring his direct reports’ credit card usage, then he is non-stop FAIL as a manager. The Department of Finance is just one more red-herring — just one more way to try to blame someone else for the complete lack of management skills over at the People’s Treasury.

    Hope you’re enjoying that kool-aid! Because it is hugely amusing to me to watch people actually make arguments for why abusing taxpayer funds and abusing taxpayer trust is somehow AOK.

  35. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Back off the two-buck chuck mama – its drowning your sense for right and wrong.

    The legislators asked Flowers if he could read for good reason. He made a squirrelly assed argument in support of his investment authority that was completely at odds with the very plain, very clear language of the CMPB enabling legislation. 29 Del. C. § 2716(e)(1) provides:

    “[t]he investment of money belonging to the State shall be made by the State Treasurer in accordance with policies established by the [Cash Management Policy] Board and subject to the terms, conditions and other matters, including the designation of permissible investments relating to the investment of the money belonging to the State

    Somewhere in this language the Chipster found his own magical version of King Arthur’s sword. Alas it was not to be.

    When a kindergartner screws up reading as badly, we ask if they can read. Why not do the same when a UofP/Georgetown/Harvard educated lawyer/politician does it?

  36. LovesHerWine says:

    Cass… Never said that the card issue wasn’t bad or a failure. I just fail to see why it prompts such vitriol. So my sense of right and wrong is in tact. Also, legislators have been debating laws and the way they are written forever. They debate wording and definitions all the time. The can’t read comment was classless. And anyone who would defend it is also classless. The kool-aid is great on my end. How is the Governor’s?

  37. cassandra_m says:

    So you didn’t even read my post enough to see this:

    The credit card thing was a big deal to very many people — it indicates a deep and abiding disrespect for the use of Delaware taxpayer funds.

    That’s the reason for the vitriol and that was my response to your question. Which goes to the ‘can’t you read’ question. Because just like you did here, Chip wants to pretend that plain text often does not exist or that you’ll never know that it is there. And as long as he is going to treat everyone like they are idiots, then he’ll be treated to a lifetime of “classless” behavior. Because most people won’t tolerate it.

    And the kool-aid must be great over there for you to not even get that taxpayers might be pretty disturbed at what looks like their funds being misused. Chip never remembers that he committed to transparency and that has been — at best — incomplete. Because there is no transparency in spinning up stories that aren’t borne out by either law or established process.

  38. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    LovesHerWine

    Make your point – I’ll gladly eat crow on Rodney Square or buy you a magnum of Yellow Tail if you can take the language of 29 Del. C. § 2716(e)(1) and explain how it gives the Chipster as Treasurer investment authority over the State’s cash. Unless you’re buying vowels or consonants, it ain’t happening.

    Its one thing to have a principled argument about the meaning of a statute. Quite another to completely and totally ignore the words – which the Chipster did. He doubled down, at every opportunity, like only a fool does. He hung onto his unprincipled, nonsensical interpretation through countless arguments with the CMPB, a 2013 slap down by the legislature, one Attorney General Opinion, and a final rebuke by the Supreme Court.

    So either the Chipster can’t read OR he thinks the rest of us can’t.

  39. Bane says:

    lol… Never thought I’d see the day when the people on the state’s Liberal site would be defending bankers, their minions, and classless legislators. Cass should go work for Carper. She’d fit right in. Although I don’t know if the Governor would grant her freedom papers.

  40. Geezer says:

    I’ll give you a quick, easy answer to why progressives dislike Chip: He’s an egotistical, reality-challenged asshole who has delusions of grandeur, no moral compass, and plays the race card with abandon. Other than that, he’s a dream come true.

    Let’s remember that, had Chip lost the primary, the administration would be on the side of the first elected statewide African-American official, Velda Jones-Potter.

  41. Bane says:

    I hear that Geezer. And I don’t disagree with you at all. However, you can agree that Chip is an asshole and still recognize that, with regard to the banks influence on the board, he is correct.

    I don’t think anyone is denying that what Chip did was stupid and wrong, I think that where we separate is that I believe that the details were released and blown up as political retribution for his stance against the board. That doesn’t mean that he was not wrong. I think my irritation and my Wino friend’s above irritation, stems from the fact that people took the governors bait and are now advocating that we take his candidate as well. And then when we say anything about the governor or refuse to walk in line with the establishment, we’re said to be drinking Chip’s Kool Aid… Which I really don’t get.

  42. Bane says:

    Also, I don’t truly understand the Velda Jones Potter statement? I highly doubt that the Governor would like to remind people that he tried to force VJP into Statewide politics. Especially since she resigned from her office in Wilmington for acts that are much worse than Flower’s. I don’t think that the Governor wants to run around the state with the argument that “If only the Potters won” lol

  43. cassandra_m says:

    Never thought I’d see the day when the people on the state’s Liberal site would be defending bankers, their minions, and classless legislators.

    And you *still* haven’t. But you probably can’t see around that strawman you keep trying to argue with.

  44. Geezer says:

    My point about Velda is that if you want to accuse the administration of racism, she kind of stands in the way.

  45. Dick says:

    Question – If Flowers collects money from the banks to fund his expenses for “audits”, are his subsequent expenses exempt from state audit (since these would not be taxpayer funds)?

  46. Bane says:

    Whoa Geezer… I never accused Markell of being a racist. And I think that Lovesherwine was talking about Schwartzkopf with the comments about reading. Can’t speak for her, but I didn’t get racist from her statement. They did the Governors bidding and attacked Flowers though. That I do agree with.

    All of my points had to do with political retribution, don’t know how you get racism out of that? Yeah, AND the legislators were also tone deaf with the way that they berated him and their condescending questioning. I think you do have to keep in mind the fact that you are talking to a person of color and there are certain triggers that have historical relevance. You don’t have to be a racist to be an idiot politically.

    Longhurst has a primary now I see. The gentleman is a member of the local NAACP and she reps Bear. Just saying. Racist or not, that type of thing doesn’t look good.

    PS…Also, if someone did call the Governor a racist, your defense can’t be that he appointed a black person to a “do nothing” job and then didn’t work for her in the primary. Just saying; you could do a lot better than that when defending the Governor on the race card.

  47. Geezer says:

    Sorry, should have said “anyone.”

    He didn’t work for her in the primary because her do-nothing city contract made her toxic.

    What difference should it make to anyone that she was appointed rather than elected? Does that difference contain melanin?

    I think the term you’re looking for is “insulting.” Chip has passed the bar, so this isn’t like asking Hazel Plant if she could read. The comment was meant as an insult, and it was launched because Chip’s behavior and attitude are offensive.

  48. Nuttingham says:

    Reporters dug deeper into the travel story because Chip kept calling them liars, not because they do anybody’s “bidding.”

    You’re damn straight that if you put out a statement to other reporters calling somebody’s work a bunch of lies, they’re going to come back with another story to show that their work was solid … and ask a few more questions along the way.

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