Widener Law Hosts Debate Between Delaware Gubernatorial Candidates
Web Editor - Published: October 23, 2008

On Wednesday, October 22nd, Widener Law’s Delaware Campus hosted a live debate between democrat Jack Markell and republican Bill Lee, the candidates for Governor of the state of Delaware. WDEL 1150 AM News Talk Radio aired the debate live from the Ruby R. Vale Moot Court Room from 8:00 to 9:30 AM.

Widener Law Dean Linda L. Ammons offered a short welcome to open the debate, saying, “On behalf of the faculty, students, and staff of the Law Center, it is my great pleasure to welcome all of you here today for this second in a pair of general election debates that Widener and 1150 AM WDEL have teamed up to bring to the voters of the First State. As Delaware’s law school, we look upon this contest for Delaware Governor with keen interest, and we thank Bill Lee and Jack Markell for spending part of their morning with us in what I am sure will be an exciting and enlightening exchange. I also want to thank all of the journalists who are here today posing the questions and everyone watching on WDEL.com, in person, or listening over their radios. Widener Law is proud to be a part of this terrific public service, and we hope it helps educate the voters about this important race. Again, good morning and welcome.”

The debate opened with a question about whether it would be better to target a specific industry to bring new jobs into Delaware or if a more open strategy would be better. Both Markell and Lee seemed to agree that the state needs a broader strategy. Lee noted, “I don’t believe there is a silver bullet out there. I don’t think that there is one industry that is going to save Delaware and turn our economy around. I think we have to create a business environment that will allow small companies to start up here.” Markell noted the differences between now and his childhood in Newark, saying, “Most of the big companies from back then are much smaller then they used to be or they’ve moved away all together. People often ask me what’s the next big thing, what will take the place of the Financial Center Development Act. I think that’s the wrong question to ask because I don’t think that anyone is really smart enough to know what the next big thing is going to be. I think what we need to do instead is create an economic climate here where entrepreneurs can thrive across a number of industries.”

The candidates touched on a number of issues important to Delaware’s future including education, treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill, agricultural zoning, traffic woes and the future of DelDOT, and how they would deal with the state’s budget deficit. Markell cited his experience when asked about achieving budget savings, declaring, “First of all, I’m the one candidate in this race who has laid out very detailed plans, actually twice during the course of the campaign - once during the primary and once during the general election – in terms of how we can achieve savings. I’m also the one candidate in this race who has a track record of delivering savings. I’ve done it twice in the private sector and once in the public sector.” Lee, however, seemed concerned with Markell’s plan, saying, “He hasn’t told us how he’s going to pay for his Blueprint for Delaware, and without that plan, the Blueprint for Delaware is a blueprint for disaster.” Lee closed his pitch to be elected by saying, “We’re facing very critical economic times. State government has grown at an unparalleled rate over the last couple years,” adding, “I think it’s very important that we hold the line for the next couple years, and that’s a tough, hard stance to take.”

WDEL 1150 AM morning news anchor Peter MacArthur served as the moderator for the debate while a panel made up of local journalists Allan Loudell of 1150 AM WDEL and Jesse Chadderdon of The Community News asked questions of the candidates.

Election day is Tuesday, November 4th.