Posted: Feb. 6, 2004
State Sen. Karen E. Peterson is not about to
let a gubernatorial veto be the last word in her effort to keep the
New Castle County Council from growing beyond its seven members.
Peterson, a Democrat who was the County
Council president in the 1980s, says she will pursue an override of
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's veto when the General Assembly returns in
mid-March from a break for budget hearings.
Peterson is the prime sponsor of the vetoed
legislation, Senate Bill 53, which would roll back an expansion of
the County Council to 13 members, which is slated to begin with the
2004 election. Minner nixed the bill last Friday, saying the council
should grow because the population has and also because it is too
late to turn back now with new districts drawn and candidates
"I started the bill because I thought it was
the right thing to do. I feel I have an obligation to see it
through," Peterson said. She had argued for the roll-back because of
the expense -- estimated at $1 million the first year -- and because
size does not guarantee responsive council members.
Peterson is unlikely to get the votes for an
override in the Senate, although theoretically there could be enough
for it. When the bill was considered last June, it passed with 13
"yes" votes -- exactly the number needed in the 21-member chamber
for a three-fifths majority on an override.
Since then, times have changed. The
Democratic-run Senate approved the measure almost cavalierly and
sent it to the House of Representatives, where the Republican
majority was known to want it to die. That changed after the County
Council, where the Democrats outnumber the Republicans 5-2, came up
with new districts that could as much as double the Democratic
The House reversed course and passed the bill
with 23 "yes" votes -- enough to send it to the governor but short
the 25 votes it would take to override a veto in the 41-member
Any attempt to override has to begin in the
house where the bill began, so it is up to the Senate to go first.
Minner's fellow Democrats appear ready to stand with her and
preserve her veto.
"There will be no override. It's unfair to the
voters. They've been on notice this [expansion] is going to happen,"
said Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, the Democratic majority leader. He
had voted for the bill before, but not now. "That was June, when
there was plenty of time to let the people know what was going to
Whatever the roll call, Peterson wants the
override considered. "If they want to block it, that's on them. I'm
going to do it even if I'm the only vote," she said.
Peterson and the governor have had their share
of disputes. Peterson lost her job in the Labor Department after the
Minner administration moved in, and Minner backed a candidate
against Peterson in a 2002 Democratic primary for the Senate seat.
Peterson has talked about challenging Minner
for governor but says the veto will not influence her thinking.
"This is not about Ruth Ann, although people will say it is. It's
about, can the state do better?" Peterson said. "I'm seriously
considering it. At this point, it could go either way."
# # #
THE OLD SWITCHEROO
Delaware Democrats had one of those
good-news/bad-news experiences over the last week.
Mired in the minority in the state House of
Representatives, where the Republicans hold sway by a 29-12 margin,
the Democrats were targeting state Rep. Timothy U. Boulden, a Newark
Republican, as someone they thought they could beat in 2004.
Boulden was re-elected two years ago by only
367 votes out of 6,089 votes cast in the 23rd Representative
District, so the Democrats figured he was vulnerable if they could
find an A-list candidate to run against him.
They recruited Terry Schooley, the director of
Kids Count, a children's advocacy group based at the University of
Delaware, and a past president of the Christina School Board.
Then the unexpected happened. Boulden took the
political set by surprise by declaring on the House floor last
Thursday he would not run for re-election. Although he gave as his
reason a need to spend more time on his family's propane and oil
business, the Democrats suspected they had scared him off.
For a week Schooley had the race to herself.
Then the Republicans countered. Their candidate is going to be Paul
J. Pomeroy, a marketing director and Newark GOP vice chairman who
had planned to run for New Castle County Council president but
quickly switched to the legislative race.
Oh, and one more thing. Pomeroy is the
son-in-law of a couple of respected Newarkers -- former state Rep.
Ada Leigh Soles, who held the seat from 1980 to 1992, and her
husband James R. Soles, a University of Delaware professor emeritus
of political science.
Jim and Ada Leigh Soles are Democrats, but
they are with their son-in-law on this one. If the Kennedy clan can
embrace Arnold Schwarzenegger, it can work for the Soles family,
# # #
There must have been strange emanations around
the governor's office of late. They afflicted Gov. Minner's staff
and also William Swain Lee, the Republican who would like to take
the job from her.
Minner's office sent out a press release last
week to say that WDEL 1150 AM radio would air a news conference on
her budget proposal. The notice read this way: "WDEL will broadcast
the news conference lice" -- which is what reporters always
suspected politicians thought of them.
Lee got his tongue tangled while speaking to
Hockessin Republicans. He meant to say he had been to Kent and
Sussex counties, but what came out is not something that can be
printed without activating the parental guards on the Internet.
Suffice it to say that Lee mixed up his
vowels, plugging the "u" in Sussex into Kent and the "e" in Kent
into Sussex. Frankly, it is a miracle if this has not happened to
Minner's staff sent out a correction within
nine minutes of the goof, saying the news conference would be
broadcast "live." As for Lee, he wisely kept right on speaking, as
though he had not said what he said.
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