Is This Another Schwartzkopf Diss?

Pete Schwartzkopf  It seems as if the Delaware Speaker of the House, Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf (D 14th) is again under fire from his own party.   It wasn’t that long ago that I published emails which disclosed a bit of a family feud within Mr. Schwartzkopf’s own district committee.  Here is a link to that post.

It seems that Speaker Schwartzkopf is being seen as too moderate for the more progressive fringe of the Delaware Democrats.

Here in Sussex, it seems to be coming from a faction of the Democrat Party, possibly lead by former state Senatorial candidate Claire Snyder-Hall.  Ms. Snyder-Hall was the focal point of the emails in my previous post.

Speaker Schwartzkopf has also come under criticism as of late for approving pay raises for legislative staff, at a time when the state is facing a budgetary shortfall estimated in the area of a $160 million. And considering it has been quite some time since the average state employee has received a raise, and considering that state employees have historically been a Democrat voting block, Mr. Schwartzkopf could be facing opposition from a direction Democrats have never had to worry about in recent years.

So that brings me to what may be the latest challenge to Speaker Schwartzkopf’s rule within the House of Representatives.

sean lynn It seems as though Freshman Representative, Sean Lynn is telegraphing the fact that he intends to make a motion on the opening day of the upcoming General Assembly, to suspend the rules, and force a vote on the repeal of the death penalty. A bill that died in committee last session.

Now we can have the discussion of the merits and faults of repealing the death penalty in Delaware. But the point here is that a Freshman Representative, either has no understanding that the Speaker of the House, who is a member of his own party, and  has opposed the repeal of the death penalty in the past, and can make Rep. Lynn’s legislative career very difficult.

Or, Mr. Schwartzkopf is perceived within his own caucus, as being weak and vulnerable, so much so, that Rep. Lynn has no fear of pulling this legislative stunt.

One of two thing may happen if Rep. Lynn goes through with his threatened maneuver. One, is he fails in his attempt to suspend the rules, or is successful, but the bill fails to pass anyway. This could mean that Rep. Lynn will be sent to the legislative waste lands, never to be heard from again. Remember, the Speaker wields quite a bit of power within the House. He sets the agenda, decides which committee a bill gets sent to, also which Representative sits on which committee.

The other possibility is that Rep. Lynn is successful in suspending the rules and manages to get enough votes to pass the bill repealing the death penalty. In this case it would leave Speaker Schwartzkopf looking extremely weak. It will appear that the Speaker has not only lost control of his own caucus, but of the entire House.

In the time that Rep. Schwartzkopf has been the Speaker, he has run the House with what has appeared to be an iron fist. He has often been accused of carrying the water for Governor Markell. The fact that Gov. Markell is in his final year, of his final term, could be the reason fellow Democrats feel emboldened to take on Rep. Schwartzkopf.

Whatever the reason, the opening day of the House session should be the most interesting in quite some time.

19 Comments on "Is This Another Schwartzkopf Diss?"

  1. Pat Fish says:

    This is interesting.

    But I have some questions.

    Are these rules suspended only BEFORE the legislative session opens? Or is there some other import about doing this thing so sooon?

    And if the rules can be suspended, and with rules comes such actions as passing laws as the Delaware constitution delineates…..can a law be enacted with no rules in effect?

    Can any upstart legislator, if he gets it into his or her head, just, boom, suspend the rules and pass laws? I realize they need other legislators to support them but this is okay to do?

    As for ole Pete dying a slow Speaker death, kind of like his federal counterpart Boehner….I can understand it. Pete Schwartzkopf reigns in a tiny part of Sussex county that is very liberal and Democratic. But he DOES live in Sussex county and Sussex county ain’t Wilmington.

    I don’t blame the Dems if they kick him out and I suspect we’ll probably get a worse one.

    But, at this point, what difference does it make? …to quote a famous Secretary of State.

    Delaware is purple turning bluer every day…..The Dems need a Speaker with spouses who punch neighbors or steal signs in dead of night.

  2. Sean Lynn says:

    My attention was directed to this post, and I hope it’s appropriate that I briefly respond.

    With courtesy to the poster, I think the assumptions contained above are inaccurate.

    Respectfully, and obviously, I am fundamentally opposed to the death penalty. I am passionate about the issue from multiple perspectives: legally and ideologically.

    This issue has both broad appeal and support from all political spectrums – both the left and the right. The core issues being the inherent overreaching of government in the execution of those who turn out to be innocent, the sanctity of human life, and the racial and socioeconomic divide that often has more of an effect on death sentences than anything else. This dichotomy attracts support from all across the political spectrum.

    From a Delaware specific standpoint, take a look at the following Cornell law review article examining the application of Delaware’s death penalty:

    The finding of the Cornell study are egregious.

    The view of my intent to bring the Death Penalty bill to the floor as a slight to the Speaker or as somehow connected to “politics” in the best and worst sense of the usage is myopic.

    The truth is that this is such a critical civil and human rights issue that I can’t sit idly by and allow it to continue. It is akin to the worst civil rights violations of the last century. When black defendants who kill white victims are three times more likely to be sentenced to death that their white counterparts who kill white victims – we should all be on our feet.

    I understand the Speaker’s position. As a former law enforcement officer, I appreciate his perspective. However, criminologists across the nation have consistently found that the death penalty has no deterrent effect. Moreover, law enforcement officers are actually safer in states that do not have the death penalty.

    I will state unequivocally that my intent to ask that the rules be suspended is in no way related to any the Speaker, his strengths or weaknesses, or any other musings above. In point of fact, I stated my intent to suspend the earlier in the year. I view this as a moral and constitutional imperative. It is not related to discourtesy or disrespect to the Speaker.

    Remember that the suspension of rules is fairly commonplace. At the beginning of every session we adopt the rules which specifically include a rule allowing the suspension thereof. What other purpose could such a rule exist for, but for these types of situations? Imagine if the rule did not exist, how undemocratic would that circumstance be?

    I typed this on my iPhone, so apologies in advance for any grammatical or spelling errors.


  3. Rick says:

    …black defendants who kill white victims are three times more likely to be sentenced to death that their white counterparts who kill white victims…

    According to the FBI (2013 data), blacks are killed by whites at the rate of 0.77 per 1,000,000 while whites are killed by blacks at the rate of 9.83 per 1,000,000. Maybe it’s retribution for the heinous ten-to-one murder ratio?

  4. Pat Fish says:

    Well this is interesting.

    First, thanks to Rep. Lynn, you did a fine job on that IPhone.

    You answered my question Rep. Lyon, as elementary as it might have sounded to you. So okay, the “rules” are adopted and one of the rules is that the rules can be suspended.

    The Blog poster asserts that by doing this you are insulting the Speaker, Rep. Schwartzkopf by, de facto, going around him to get a law passed.

    And for the record Rep. Lynn, Americans are in favor of the death penalty, they have been since time immemorial….I really doubt you are representing your constituents, even if they are all liberals.

    As for ole Pete, you really are slapping him in the face but lookit, if you get the rules suspended, which I somehow understand is legal, and you get the anti-death penalty law passed, with a majority of the legislature as per, well…..the rules, then more power to you. Whatever my ideaology, I do respect the concept of majority rule.

    But we’re down here in Sussex belittling Pete cause it’s what we like to do.

    You just give us a good reason to mock him.

    Oh…..Delaware once outlawed the death penalty then Delaware put it back. In the middle of this confusion, the fine, fine Thomas Capano got a chance to lay around and get fat because he fell in between the cracks. He died in prison but he should have died with the help of a needle.

    Don’t put Delaware through this again….I ask you to give it some serious thought.

  5. lindsey says:

    Pat Fish – another Catholic who picks and chooses what parts of their religion they want to practice. Pat your Church is anti death penalty.

  6. pat fish says:

    Oh no! Actually, not that it matters much, but i am against the death penalty.

    But I think i am a minority and the last time Delaware eliminated the death penalty it didn’t work.

    This smacks of political opportunism sorry to be blunt. I don’t see Delawareans burning phone lines to eliminate death penalty.

    I remind that the laws they pass, WE have to live with.

  7. Frank Knotts says:

    Rep. Lynn, first let me thank you for your response. Notice that the title is a question. I will take you at your word that it is not an intentional diss, but it may still be a political one.
    As for the death penalty in Delaware. If we look at how it is actually used, not merely being sentenced to death, since it was reinstated sixteen people have been executed. Eight white, seven blacks, and one Native American. Seems when it comes to actually using the death penalty, Delaware couldn’t be more diverse.

  8. Sean says:


    im not sure where your statistics are from, but here are some quotes from the Cornell article which highlight the racial divide:

    “Fifty-eight persons—fifty-seven of them men69—have been sentenced to
    death in the “modern” era of the Delaware death penalty.70 Since nine of
    those death sentences were imposed under the initial mandatory scheme,
    and were therefore automatically invalidated,71 we will focus on the fortynine
    defendants sentenced to death using one of the three guided
    discretion statutes. Of those forty-nine, only nineteen, or 39%, were white.
    Twenty-six, or 53%, were black, and four, or 8%, were Hispanic or Native
    American. In contrast, 69% of the Delaware population is white, 21% is
    black, and (as is proportionate) 8% are Hispanic.72 The starkness of the
    black–white disparity is increasing rather than decreasing over time; all of
    the last eight death sentences in Delaware were imposed upon AfricanAmerican
    defendants. The last white defendant to be sentenced to death in
    Delaware was Linda Charbonneau in 2004.73
    Thirty-three of the forty-nine cases, or 67%, involve a white victim.74
    Moreover, half of the fourteen black-victim cases involved more than one
    victim, while only 15% of the thirty-three white-victim cases involved more
    than one victim, suggesting that the black-victim cases that do result in death
    sentences are more aggravated than are the white victim death cases.75.

    There have been sixteen modern-era executions in Delaware, the most
    recent of which was in April of 2012. Of the sixteen death row inmates who
    were executed, eight (50%) were white, seven (44%) were African
    American, and one (6%) was Native American. Eleven (69%) of the
    executed inmates were sentenced to death for killing one or more white
    victims, and five (31%) were executed for the murder of one or more black
    The death sentence rate—the proportion of all murders that result in a
    death sentence—measures “death-proneness” in a jurisdiction. In the next
    section, we consider changes over time in the death sentence rate in
    Delaware. But death sentence rates can also be used as a measure of racial
    disparity. Comparisons between the population and death sentences, such as
    those reported above, can be striking—as they are in Delaware—but,
    standing alone, must be interpreted cautiously. Racial discrimination might
    explain such disparities, but so might differences in underlying offense
    rates. Examination of death sentence rates for various race-of-defendant and
    race-of-victim combinations, if it reveals large disparities, is less likely to stem
    from differences in criminal behavior.
    The results of examining Delaware’s death sentencing rate by race of
    defendant and victim are dramatic. Figure 1 shows the death sentence rate
    for Delaware as a function of the race of defendant and victim.
    From almost any perspective, it is hard to imagine what would cause
    such stark disparities. Black defendants who kill white victims are more than
    six times as likely to receive the death penalty as are black defendants who
    kill black victims (186.7 per thousand as compared to 28.5 per thousand).
    Moreover, black defendants who kill white victims are more than three times
    as likely to be sentenced to death as are white defendants who kill white
    victims (186.7 per thousand as compared to 52.0 per thousand).
    Interestingly, white defendants who kill white victims are about as likely to
    receive a death sentence as white defendants who kill black victims (52.0 per
    thousand as compared to 48.8 per thousand). The rate that stands out,
    however, is the rate for black defendants who kill white victims.
    Of course, it is theoretically possible that although these comparisons
    control for differences in murder rates, they fail to capture differences in
    kinds of murders. Is it plausible that African Americans systematically
    commit—and whites systematically are victims of—worse murders? This
    seems highly unlikely, but in the final stage of our study of Delaware, we
    hope to conclusively resolve this question in true Baldus fashion, by
    examining aggravation and mitigation in capital cases, as well as in deatheligible
    murders. In the meantime, a comparison with death sentencing
    rates in other jurisdictions is instructive. Table 1 includes the Delaware data
    48.8 52.0
    0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200
    per 1000 homicides
    Black defendant White defendant
    Black victim White victim Black victim White victim
    A5_JOHNSON.DOCX (DO NOT DELETE) 10/16/2012 11:12 AM
    from Figure 1 and adds data from seven other states for the time period
    between 1977 and 2000.82”

  9. Rick says:

    Black defendants who kill white victims are more than
    six times as likely to receive the death penalty as are black defendants who
    kill black victims…

    And white people are ten times more likely to be murdered by a black person than a black is to be murdered by a white person. Being a victim of murder is a “death penalty,” too.

  10. Frank Knotts says:

    Sean, first, there is a difference between a death sentence and execution.
    Until execution it is simply a life sentence.
    Again, since Delaware reinstituted the death penalty, sixteen people have been “executed”. Eight white, seven black and one Native American.
    Also from you comment above,”The last white defendant to be sentenced to death in
    Delaware was Linda Charbonneau in 2004.”
    Not so, the last white person executed was Robert W.Jackson III July 29, 2011.
    And really, unless you are saying that the black people who are sentenced to death did not commit the crimes, I am not sure if the relevance of race.
    If there was only one crime committed in Delaware this year, and it was committed by a white man, then statistically you could say that whites had committed 100% of the crime in Delaware. Statistics can be massaged to make any point you like.

  11. JS says:

    Frank, I believe that Rep. Lynn is correct in that Charbonneau was the last white person sentenced to death but Robert Jackson III was the last one actually executed. Charbonneau’s conviction was overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court and rather than be retried she accepted the State’s plea offer and plead guilty to Murder 2.

  12. Frank Knotts says:

    Thanks JS, and my apologies to Rep. Lynn. See even I got confused about the difference between sentencing and actual execution.

  13. JS says:

    Pat, Capano didn’t “fall through the cracks”. Delaware abolished the death penalty in 1958. It was reinstated in 1961. Gov. Carvel veto’d the legislation but was over ridden by the legislature. In 1972 The US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty process in all 50 states violated the 8th amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. In 1977 Delaware enacted new death penalty legislation that passed constitutional muster.muster. Fahey was murdered in June 1996 and Capano was convicted in January of 1999. For Capano to have escaped the death penalty by “falling through the cracks” the murder would have had to have been committed prior to the new legislation in 1977. In 2006 the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Capano’s conviction but overturned the death sentence and remanded the case to Superior Court for another sentencing hearing because the jury had not unanimously found a statutory aggravating circumstance. The Department of Justice, after consulting with the Fahey family, made the decision not to seek the death penalty again and he was re-sentenced to life without parole. He died in prison in 2011

  14. pat fish says:

    I studied your explanation….wow, you really know this case.

    So Capano DID get the death penalty? Well I got it all backward but it was worth it for your succint explanation. And as I understand it, Capano was not such a nice guy. Bugs me.

    It is an interesting case, isn’t it? I read couple books on it.

  15. JS says:

    Capano was initially sentenced to death but that sentence was never carried out. He was re-sentenced to life without parole after the Delaware Supreme Court over turned the original sentence. He died of a heart attack, while he was incarcerated, in September of 2011.

  16. mouse says:

    It’s very important to conservatives to assure people can be executed after they are born.

  17. Creeper says:

    I long for the days of Nancy Wagner… I never thought I’d say that! The 31st is a shit hole and it’s getting worse. Maybe once the death penalty is repealed, the folks living the entitlement lifestyle will all get up and go to work the very next day. Or maybe, they’ll just continue to commit capital offenses in the capital. Continue protecting criminals, while seats are being taken out of Dover Downs and neighborhoods are crumbling. Nice job liberal Lynn.

  18. Rick says:

    Does the piece of crap from Chicago (who I’m sure we’ll hear had an impoverished childhood) who lured a 9-year-old boy into an alley so he could blow his brains out deserve the death penalty? I’d say “yes,” and I’m certain that the vast majority of Americans would concur.

  19. mouse says:

    The greater question is do we want the state to be able to kill its own citizens..

Got something to say? Go for it!