Former Delaware Governor Pete DuPont has died after battling a long illness according to his former chief of staff, Bob Perkins – DuPont was 86. DuPont, a Republican, started his political career in 1969 as a Representative in the Delaware House and then just a year later he went to Washington as Delaware’s lone Congressman. In 1976 was elected Governor and in three years reversed a nearly bankrupt state to one with a $20-million surplus. DuPont desegregated Delaware public schools, oversaw 8 balanced budgets, brought the credit card and financial industry to the First State and became the first 2-term Governor in nearly 30 years. He also ran for President in 1988, but dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary.
U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) provided the following statement on the passing of former Delaware Congressman and Governor Pete du Pont:
“Martha and I are saddened to hear the news of Pete’s passing. I’ve been blessed with many mentors over the years, and I count him as one of my very best mentors and later on, friends. I first met Pete barely a year after coming to Delaware, and our relationship was an adversarial one in the political arena. I was working as a treasurer and fundraiser for the campaign running against him for Delaware’s U.S. House seat, and he won handily in the end. I always joked that his campaign made more money on interest than we raised! But I learned a lot from that campaign about Delaware, running for office and about Pete. I learned from Pete how to campaign, how to connect with people and the importance of surrounding yourself with the best people you can find.
“In 1976, as I assumed the role of State Treasurer and Pete became Governor, Delaware faced critical financial challenges. But we came together – a Republican Governor, Democratic State Treasurer and the Democratic and Republican leadership in the legislature, and eventually put into place reforms that continue to serve our state well today. Pete knew that one of the best things you can do to help someone is help them get a job, so he was very focused on creating a nurturing environment for job growth and job preservation as Governor. I worked hard to continue that model he created during the eight years I served in that role.
“Pete came from great wealth, but he had an ability to connect with people from all walks of life. One of my fondest memories was when – after much cajoling from the crowd – he joined them in dancing to the bluegrass band at the Georgetown Oyster Eat in his well-worn, holed sweater. Pete was a very decent, kind human being, and Delaware is a better place today because of him.”
Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., issued this statement:
“Pete du Pont cared deeply about his state and country, and his sense of duty and level of dedication were self-evident during a long career in public service, whether he was serving as a naval officer, congressman, or governor. Pete labored tirelessly to strengthen our state finances, and he knew the importance of bringing businesses to Delaware. He will be missed by many and remembered for his kind, authentic, and good-humored nature.”
Governor John Carney, D-Del., posted this statement:
“Delaware lost a real leader today. Governor Pete du Pont served a single term in the Delaware House of Representatives before representing Delawareans for six years in the U.S. Congress, and going on to serve two terms as Governor. As Governor, he found ways to work across the aisle to address an immediate fiscal crisis and make Delaware more competitive economically. He championed sound fiscal practices, including creating the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, that have served Delaware well for decades. Working with members of the General Assembly, he signed legislation that helped create the financial services industry in our state, which continues to employ thousands of Delawareans. Governor du Pont was a good and decent man who loved Delaware. Tracey and I are praying for his wife Elise, There, Ben, Pierre, Elise and their entire family tonight.”