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GOP holds up key Carney cabinet nomination

Delaware Public Media


Senate Republicans successfully blocked Gov. John Carney’s (D) nominee to lead DNREC without casting a single vote, leaving Shawn Garvin’s confirmation in limbo.

With the GOP and Democrats splitting control of the Senate, an eleventh vote is needed to meet the simple majority required to confirm a gubernatorial appointment.

Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel) left the building due to a “family emergency” a senate aide said, leaving no opportunity for Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long (D) to break a 10-10 tie.


It's an embarrassing moment for the newly minted Carney Administration and one of the few times Senate Republicans have flexed their relatively recent power in the chamber. Gubernatorial appointments are practically rubber stamped in the state Senate where even a single vote against a nominee is considered noteworthy.


Garvin, a former Obama Administration appointee, led the regional Environmental Protection Agency office for the past eight years – a governmental lightning rod reviled in Republican circles.


State Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) cited his concerns with Garvin’s relationship to the EPA, which he called “…probably the most anti-business EPA in history.”


Others wouldn’t outline specific concerns with him, saying they would continue to talk to Carney about the nomination.


Republican senators also wouldn’t say whether they could ever vote for Garvin in the future.

Senate staffers say the General Assembly’s upper chamber hasn’t outright rejected a gubernatorial appointee since before Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) took office in 2001.


In a statement, Carney said, “Shawn is a remarkably qualified candidate. We look forward to his confirmation in March,” signaling they won’t bring the issue up until after a special election cements control of the Senate in February.


Through a spokesman, Carney declined an interview request.


David Small remains as secretary of DNREC, but it's unclear how long he will personally stay in the job.


Senators quickly confirmed the rest of the Carney nominees up for approval Wednesday.


That list includes:

  • Brigadier General Carol A. Timmons as Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard
  • Anas Ben Addi to stay on as Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority
  • Susan Bunting as Education Secretary
  • Robert Coupe to head the Department of Safety and Homeland Security
  • James Collins to remain as Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information
  • Michael Scuse as Secretary of Agriculture.
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