For the past six months, I have heard the entire state of Delaware talk about how John Carney is the heir apparent to the Governor’s mansion. Because he is a Democrat. Because he should have become the Governor in 2008. On the Republican side, the leading contender is State Senator Colin Bonini. For the past 21 years, Bonini has been a Delaware State Senator, winning every election. He did run for State Treasurer in 2010, but lost to Democrat Chip Flowers.
Bonini will definitely be one to watch in the coming year. Many Delawareans are not happy with the “one-party rule” that has existed in the First State for many years. With education a complete mess, a looming budget deficit, and a general feeling of unhappiness with our state government, it may just be a time that is ripe for change. There have been no Republican governors in Delaware since 1993. Many feel that John Carney will just be “Jack Markell light”.
Bonini has been preparing for the election drumming up support from many different areas of the state. As recently as December 1st, Bonini sent a letter to the leadership of the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate to request the creation of a standing Civil Rights committee in the Delaware General Assembly. I think this is an excellent idea!
In terms of voting history on crucial education matters, Bonini voted yes on the very controversial charter school bill, House Bill 165 and yes on the equally controversial Senate Bill 51, concerning teacher educator licensure. On the flip side though, Bonini voted no on the Smarter Balanced Assessment bill, House Bill 334, and voted yes for House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation Governor Markell vetoed last summer. His primary opponent, John Carney, voted yes for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Last summer, Carney voted no for an opt-out bill introduced earlier in the year. I think it would be foolhardy for everyone to assume Carney has this in the bag. While Carney has been strolling around the corridors of Washington D.C., Bonini has been in the first state tackling a lot of the issues. His loss to Flowers in 2010 was very narrow, with Flowers carrying 51% of the vote for State Treasurer.
Both candidates need to speak openly and candidly about education in Delaware. This conversation needs to start now.