Posted: Dec. 17, 2015


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

A number of Delawareans who were not the type to be forgot or never brought to mind nevertheless took their leave in 2015, one way or another. It was an unusually large and prominent class to be going, especially without benefit of election.

Delaware will not be the same without them, or at least without some of them.

Ellen Kullman

There she was, the toast of Delaware after coming through the bloodless proxy war that was posed as an existential threat to DuPont, because it was, and there she wasn't. Kullman was gone like a supernova. If it is time to go, it might as well be an unforgettable flameout.

David Grimaldi

Exits do not come any faster than this. Grimaldi, the second-in-command in New Castle County, was on his way outta here, as he told it, when Tom Gordon, the Democratic county executive, conducted probably the shortest termination hearing in history. "F--- you, Dave, you're fired," his boss said.

John Carney

Technically Carney is not planning to leave, but only transition. Not since Tom Carper modeled this method of morphing from the Democratic congressman to governor in 1992 has there been such an easy expectation about who the next governor would be, so much so that it sounds wrong to say Carney is "running" for the office.

"Strolling" perhaps. Possibly "ambling." Maybe even "cakewalking." But definitely not "running."

Harris McDowell III

The only place McDowell is going is into the record books. As a state senator originally elected in 1976, he is about to join Bob Gilligan, the Democratic ex-speaker, as the only legislators to spend 40 years in the Delaware General Assembly. Gilligan lasted from 1972 to 2012.

McDowell is up for election in 2016. If he returns to Dover, he would set a new record and also put himself in the running for the Delawarean with the longest tenure in public office. Carper is also on the verge of 40 years after winning statewide elections since 1976 as treasurer, congressman, governor and senator, and Joe Biden is looking at 46 years as a Democratic county councilman, senator and vice president.

By the way, if McDowell wants himself immortalized on a plaque in Legislative Hall, he will have to figure out how. When Gilligan authorized a plaque honoring legislators with 40 years as one of his last acts as speaker, he made it big enough for only one name. That would be his.

Dennis Williams

The mayor is not gone, not yet. Still, as someone who had Wilmington tagged as "Murder Town" on his watch and got to feuding with the legislature's Joint Finance Committee -- which Williams used to chair for heaven's sake -- while it is taking extraordinary measures to try to give the city $1.5 million for public safety, it looks like a matter of time.

Jim Soles, the late political science professor from the University of Delaware, came up with a suitable political epitaph for this sort of conduct a long time ago.

"You do not embarrass the electorate," Soles once said.

Joe Biden

DuPont is just about history. With the decision against running for president in 2016, "Our Joe" is now another Delaware institution on the way out. He might just take it with him when he goes.