Embattled Delaware Treasurer Withdrawing from Race - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Embattled Delaware Treasurer Withdrawing from Race

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With his fiancee Megan Lallier by his side, State Treasurer Chip Flowers announced he is dropping his reelection campaign and will move to Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Dave Chambers/Delaware State News) With his fiancee Megan Lallier by his side, State Treasurer Chip Flowers announced he is dropping his reelection campaign and will move to Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Dave Chambers/Delaware State News)
DOVER, Del. (AP/WBOC)- With tears flowing down his cheeks, embattled Delaware state treasurer Chip Flowers said Friday that he is ending his re-election campaign, days after his former deputy filed a harassment complaint against him.

Flowers, who has had a rocky relationship with the Democratic Party establishment since being elected in 2010 and faced a Sept. 9 primary contest, said he was tired of fending off attacks on his character, including the recent complaint by former deputy treasurer Erika Benner.

"Politics is now my past, not my future," said Flowers, the only black statewide elected official in Delaware.

Benner had no immediate comment on Flowers' withdrawal. His Democratic primary opponent, Sean Barney, wished him well.

"While Chip Flowers and I disagreed on several public matters, I wish him the best in the next chapter of his life," Barney said in a prepared statement.

Republican candidate Ken Simpler, who along with fellow GOP candidate for treasurer Sher Valenzuela, called Thursday for Flowers to resign, said he hoped Flowers would be able to focus on his job during the remainder of his term.

"The treasurer's job should be about performance, not headlines," Simpler said.

Prior to Friday's announcement, Flowers told The Associated Press he had grown weary of defending himself against Benner's false attacks.

"There's more things in life than public office," he said Thursday. "Watching my fiancee cry last night, that was enough for me."

On Friday, it was Flowers who was weeping.

"I love the people of this state, but I recognize that my political views of wanting to better the lives of the people through bold ideas and change are not accepted here," he said tearfully. "It's not right or wrong, it's just a fact."

"I choose to talk about skyscrapers and jobs and dreams, not lies," said Flowers, who plans to finish his term and move to Massachusetts.

Benner filed a second harassment complaint against Flowers last week, stemming from an encounter between Flowers and her 16-year-old son at a Fourth of July parade in Dover. According to an initial complaint last month, Flowers told Benner that if her son approached him again, he would defend himself with a gun. Flowers says Benner's son, who is white, threatened him, using a racial slur. Benner says she didn't hear any threat or slur, and that Flowers continued to call her and text her after being told to stop.

"My actions on July Fourth were strong, based upon the actions and threats by her son to me and my fiancee," said Flowers, reiterating that Benner repeatedly contacted him after complaining that he was harassing her.

Flowers said he was "very confident" that the complaints will be dropped.

In an incident report, police say Benner reported that she and Flowers had a romantic relationship that ended in 2012. Benner on Wednesday denied a romantic relationship with Flowers.

While accusing Flowers of harassment, Benner has had her own recent run-ins with the law.

Court records show Benner was charged with terroristic threatening and noncompliance with bond in February 2012. Less than two weeks after those charges were dismissed, she and her ex-husband were both charged with offensive touching. Those charges also were dismissed. Last year, Benner was charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief after allegedly breaking into a Camden home from which she had been evicted a few days earlier. According to a police affidavit, a neighbor called the property owner after spotting Benner's van in the driveway, and a police officer stopped Benner as she was leaving the property.

Benner was sentenced to probation before judgment, which she completed last month, on the trespass charge, and prosecutors dropped the mischief charge.

Benner resigned last year following repeated use of her state credit card for personal expenses, including more than $1,000 for football tickets and private car service to a New England Patriots game she and Flowers attended in 2011. Flowers said Friday that Benner had told him at the time that her father had season tickets, and that he did not learn until late last year that she had used her state credit card.

Benner reimbursed the state for the improper charges, but the controversy prompted Flowers to announce that he, too, would reimburse the state for certain travel expenses. Much of the scrutiny over travel spending by Flowers and Benner involved a 2012 trip to Alaska.

Flowers' decision to withdraw from the race makes Sean Barney, a former Markell policy adviser who also worked as a senior aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, the presumptive Democratic nominee. 

Editor's note: Ken Simpler serves on the board of the parent company that owns WBOC.

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