Thursday, May 17, 2007

John Carney and Jack Markell: Inside Game, Outside Game

Celia Cohen and the News Journal have published stories about talks to avoid a primary between John Carney and Jack Markell. Celia yesterday wrote that the "agreement" involving Markell running for lieutenant governor "is not finalized and could fall apart," which isn't quite what Jack Markell said in her story:
"I've been taking a very serious look at the governor's office. I have no intention of running for lieutenant governor. There have been plenty of conversations but no agreement."
The News Journal also quotes Jack Markell today as saying there is no deal:
"Sen. [Tom] Carper [D-Del.] has been trying to find a way in which everyone can still play a role without a primary," Markell said. "There have been discussions. ... But I am still looking seriously at running for governor and there is no agreement, period, end of statement."
Carney agreed that no deal had been reached, but held out hope that some common ground can be found.
"I've worked on a lot of campaigns before I ever ran myself, and I can't remember a primary that had a good outcome overall. Working together just makes a lot more sense than spending energy and resources against each other," Carney said. "I don't think it should come as news to anyone, especially in the Democratic Party, that everyone's been talking and trying to work something out."

Who wants this deal? Well, who sounds more motivated? My guess is that the push for a deal is coming almost entirely from John Carney and his supporters.
First off, I should say that both John Carney and Jack Markell are clearly qualified to serve as governor. They are both, in their different ways, wonky, which counts for something at this blog.
As for the idea that a primary could hurt the prospects of the eventual nominee, it's nonsense; I predict today that the Democratic candidate will be elected. (Dave Burris today asserted that Alan Levin scared the two into talking; it's a nice bit of bravado, but talk about a deal to avoid a primary has been percolating for months.)
It might help to think of John Carney and Jack Markell in terms of inside game and outside game.
John's a consummate inside game player, and a genuine technocrat (not a pejorative in my book). He earned a master's of public administration at UD, and has worked for Joe Biden, Tom Carper (who appointed him finance secretary), and as deputy chief of staff for then county exec Dennis Greenhouse. He's the kind of guy who does his homework, and will rarely stray from the company line. John's career has been guided and nurtured by Tom Carper; his strength is the inside game, in terms of his government experience and his ties within the Party. If the nomination were decided by Party leaders, I'd have to give him the edge.
Jack's career is of his own making; his strength is the outside game. If the nomination is decided by primary voters, I'd give him the edge.
Last November, Jack posted the highest vote total of any statewide candidate--more than Tom Carper, Mike Castle, Beau Biden, Ruth Ann Minner or John Carney for that matter--a remarkable feat for a state treasurer. John, despite his considerable government experience, has never stood for election on his own.

The inside game/outside game dynamics of the Delaware's energy future illustrates the different positions the two find themselves in.

John Carney earlier this week took a position in cautious support of the Public Service Commission's pending decision in favor of wind power, a position that has been portrayed as different from that of Gov. Minner, who still holds out the possibility that coal gasification facility could make sense for Delaware. John last week said he hasn't ruled out coal; he supports the anticipated decision to negotiate with Conectiv and NRG for a backup facility.

I imagine he's been uncomfortable with the way Jack Markell has managed to get out front on this issue all year, first with his comment that price stability was the key consideration in choosing a long term energy source, and with his public letter to Delmarva urging that it reconsider its position of refusing to negotiate a long term energy contract or contracts according to the PSC decision. Delmarva backed down a few days later.

John Carney has already announced his candidacy and put up a Website. As for Jack Markell, he still uses his campaign Website, which is still being updated with events, and he never got around to closing his campaign office from last year.

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