Race for Treasurer in Del. One of Most Hotly Contested This Year - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Race for Treasurer in Del. One of Most Hotly Contested This Year

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Perhaps one of the most contentious political races in Delaware this year is the race for state treasurer.

Incumbent Democrat Chip Flowers is facing off against Gov. Jack Markell's former policy director, Sean Barney, in a primary this summer. The winner will likely face Republican businessman Ken Simpler.

There has been a lot more public attention on the treasurer's office over the past than is normal for Delaware. That's due to a state credit scandal involving the deputy treasurer and a dispute between the treasurer and lawmakers.

Still, Flowers points to his accomplishments during his three years in office as the reason voters should re-elect him.

"I've made over $45 million since I've been in office," he said. "We've had positive returns 31 out of 38 months and White House recognition for many of our innovative programs, especially in financial education."

But the other men seeking his job see that $40+ million dollars differently. Both say it's not that much.

"Frankly, when you have $2 billion to invest, making $44 million over the course of three years is no Herculean feat," said Simpler.

"The returns the state has gotten on its cash amounts to less than one-percent on an annualized basis," Barney said. "It's quite low by historical standards."

Flowers questions their math.

"Only about $650-$850 million is invested long-term. So, that's a much higher rate of return," the treasurer said.

Simpler says he's the candidate in this race who would bring the most useful experiences to the position.

"It's one part money manager and one part managing a finance office that collects and disperses all the receipts we have in the state of Delaware," he said. "That's what I've done for 20 years. Sean and Chip are equally inexperienced in financial matters."

Barney says he'd be a different kind of treasurer for Delawareans than his primary opponent chip Flowers.

"They deserve a leader who takes seriously the first responsibility of the treasurer's office, which is to protect the integrity of taxpayer resources, to safeguard those resources against abuse," he said. "They deserve a leader who is less interested in grandstanding than in getting things done."

During the past year, Flowers has sparred with lawmakers in Dover over the balance between the treasurer and the state's Cash Management Policy Board when it comes to investing the state's money. Flowers didn't have a ton of success in that fight - though he sees it in positive terms anyway.

"We stood up to the system. I'm very proud. Change is difficult."

And Flowers says he'll continue to stand up if re-elected.

Delaware's primary election is in September.

*Editor's note - Ken Simpler sits on the board of directors for the company that owns WBOC.

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Name: Chip Flowers
Party: Democrat
Age: 39
Address: 121 Betsy Rawls Dr., The Legends, Middletown, DE
Education: Penn, Georgetown (JD), Harvard (MPA)
Job: State Treasurer
Political Experience: One term as treasurer

Name: Sean Barney
Party: Democrat
Age: 39
Address: PO Box 25189, Wilmington, DE
Education: Swarthmore, Yale (JD), Harvard (MPA)
Job: Former policy director for Gov. Markell
Political Experience: Sen. Carper senior aide, Gov. Markell policy director, US Marine Corps (wounded in Iraq)

Name: Ken Simpler
Party: Republican
Age: 46
Address PO Box 9233, Newark, DE 19714
Education: Princeton, Chicago (JD, MBA)
Job: Owner of Seaboard Hotels, Board of Directors for WBOC parent company
Political Experience: None
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