The Tornoe Spin: Someone give John Carney ‘The Dummies Guide to Politics’

I don’t want to beat up on John Carney too badly, so let me start off by saying something nice – at least he’s more popular than Chris Christie. 



I don’t want to beat up on John Carney too badly, so let me start off by saying something nice – at least he’s more popular than Chris Christie. 

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The new Delaware governor was in the news this week after poll numbers were released showing a surprising drop in his approval ratings and a corresponding increase in his disapproval rating. 

According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult, 52 percent of registered voters in the state approve of his performance as governor, which would be fine if that number wasn’t 61 percent just three months ago. His disapproval rating also jumped 10 percentage points, from 20 percent to 30 percent. 

Yes, Delaware is a solid blue state, and yes Carney is a Democrat, but the poll numbers really aren’t that surprising considering his poor performance on the most important issue facing his young governorship – Delaware’s budget problem. 

During the budget negotiations, Carney was largely MIA while Democrats in the General Assembly pleaded anonymously through the media for him to get more involved in budget talks to close a $400 million deficit. Carney’s absence was so noteworthy many progressives dubbed Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf the state’s acting governor throughout the budget process. 

Basically, Carney gave Republicans everything they wanted at the onset, offering a naive budget reset that took the idea of tax increases to support popular government services like school spending and funding nonprofits off the table. This allowed Republicans to push the nonsensical idea that Delaware’s bloated government is the cause of our budget deficit, despite the fact the state’s current tax burden is on par with the state of Wyoming. 

In other words, if we all like these services (most do), we should be willing to pony up more money to properly fund them. That’s especially true for our outdated tax code, where the tax rate for a household making $60,000 is the same as a household making $500,000. 

Instead, we ended up with a bill that cut school aid and funding to charities while asking nothing from Delaware’s most fortunate citizens. In fact, the wealthy were able to convince legislators to eliminate the Estate Tax altogether, another giveaway to Republicans while getting nothing in return. While the money the state brought in through the Estate Tax has been volatile and unpredictable ($9.3 million last year), it’s symbolic of a bungled budget process that Carney could have done a better job managing. 

Frankly, it’s surprising to me how badly Carney performed, considering his wealth of experience in and out of Legislative Hall. The man was lieutenant governor for eight years, and before that was one of Gov. Tom Carper’s top staffers. He practically knows everyone in the Assembly (which is currently controlled by Democrats) and the best he could do was smile for the cameras as he signed a stop-gap budget bill days after it was actually due (let’s not forget he criticized the “one-time fixes” that happened during the Markell administration). 

Carney charitably gave himself a “B” on his performance, but so far he appears to be flunking Politics 101. Things aren’t going to get any easier. On top of what will likely be another significant budget shortfall, unsettled issues such as the death penalty, marijuana legalization and a significant increase in Delaware’s paltry minimum wage loom over the horizon. 

Can you tell me Carney’s position on all three? I can – Not sure, maybe and we’ll look into it. 

Just more of that Carney Leadership. I’m surprised his state seal isn’t a finger dangling in the wind. 


Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe. 

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