Markell elected Delaware governor

November 4, 2008 7:16:02 PM PST
Jack Markell was elected student body president in high school, but he was never able to serve because his father, a University of Delaware professor, took an overseas sabbatical. Markell, 47, kept his political ambitions on hold after high school: He earned degrees from Brown University and the University of Chicago and then made his fortune helping to grow a small startup into telecommunications giant Nextel, a name he coined.

As Delaware's newly elected governor, the three-term state treasurer must now harness his financial and political savvy to revive the state's sluggish economy. He also has a reform plan to bolster education, nurture small business and expand health care.

"We have very challenging times," Markell said, "and we're going to have to face them together."

In the general election, Markell beat Republican Bill Lee, 72, a retired judge making his third bid for governor.

"I'm just really grateful for all the fantastic support I received," Markell said.

Bucking the Democratic Party establishment, Markell took on Lt. Gov. John Carney in the most expensive gubernatorial primary in Delaware history and won with help of campaign contributions from around the country. Between them, the two candidates spent more than $5 million.

Hammering home positions from his footnoted, 80-page "Blueprint for a Better Delaware," Markell ousted the hand-picked choice of Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who leaves office due to term limits.

"We had a message from the beginning and we stuck to it," Markell said.

As governor, Markell promises 25,000 new jobs by encouraging entrepreneurship and small business. He wants to move toward universal health care coverage by requiring most employers with 10 or more workers to contribute to the cost of employees' insurance.

Markell said the state must get more parents engaged in their children's education and better attract and retain talented teachers. He also seeks greater government transparency, vowing to ban all gifts from lobbyists to executive branch officials.


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