Flowers drops out of treasurer's race

Incumbent denies allegations of harassment by former deputy
Re-election campaign signs for Treasurer Chip Flowers still dot the side of Route 1. Flowers announced Aug. 15 that he will not be running for re-election. BY CHRIS FLOOD
August 25, 2014

Days after defending himself against allegations of harassment by his former deputy, state Treasurer Chip Flowers announced Aug. 15 that he would not seek a second term in office.

The tear-filled announcement was made from inside the treasurer's office in Dover.

“My political views, of wanting to better the lives of the people through bold ideas and change, are not accepted here,” he said. “It's not right or wrong. It's just a fact.”

Flowers said his political career was over and that he knew if he were to run for re-election lies would continue to follow him at every level.

Flowers said he's moving to Massachusetts to focus on his upcoming wedding and to make himself better.

Earlier in the week Flowers and former Deputy Secretary Erika Benner were at the center of a political storm, when Benner filed a complaint with the Dover Police Department accusing Flowers of harassing her with texts and phone calls following an incident with Brenner's son before the Fourth of July Parade in Dover.

Flowers has denied the accusations.

Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said it was a good move by the treasurer to not seek re-election. There are a lot of things out there, Schwartzkopf said, and the scrutiny was only going to get worse.

Schwartzkopf and Flowers' have had very public disagreements during the treasurer's term, a period of time Schwartzkopf characterized as a mess. Flowers made some really absurd observations about the Cash Management Board and called people corrupt, Schwartzkopf said.

“He's a victim of his own behavior,” he said.

Schwartzkopf said Flowers bowing out of the race makes the Democratic primary easier.

“It takes a lot of the drama out of the race,” he said.

Sean Barney is now the lone Democratic candidate and becomes the presumptive Democratic representative in the General Election Nov. 4.

In a prepared statement, Barney wished Flowers good luck moving forward, but said he didn't get into the race to run against Flowers. He said he got into the race because of his commitment to public service.

“That is why I volunteered for the Marines, and why I worked for Sen. Carper, advising him on economic policy,” he said. “The people of Delaware deserve a treasurer committed to open government and creating opportunity for the people of our great state. That's what I will do if elected.”

Ken Simpler and Sher Valenzuela, Republican candidates for the treasurer's office who will face off in primary Sept. 9, didn't waste anytime getting their opinions on Flowers' decision out to the media. Both candidates released scathing press releases within hours of the announcement.

Simpler said he hopes Flowers is able to focus on his job for the remaining few months of the term.

“As I noted yesterday, his scandal-ridden tenure dominated his time and put our state portfolio at risk. This is what happens when you put political opportunists in office instead of highly qualified specialists,” he said in a prepared statement. “The treasurer’s job should be about performance, not headlines.”

Valenzuela noted she was the first candidate to call for Flowers to step down and said his announcement is good for Delaware taxpayers and Delaware women.

“As the only female candidate for state treasurer, I was particularly outraged by Mr. Flowers' conduct,” she said in a prepared statement. “Flowers' decision, following my call for resignation, shows that bold leadership counts. As treasurer, I will continue this kind of leadership, working for lower taxes, limited government and job growth.”

Schwartzkopf didn't want to speculate on how Barney would do against Simpler or Valenzuela. The race Barney runs will depend on who wins the Republican primary, he said.


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