Schwartzkopf, Longhurst, Viola Return to Caucus Leadership Posts

DOVER – The House Democratic Caucus re-elected Reps. Pete Schwartzkopf, Valerie Longhurst and John Viola Monday to serve in the caucus’ top three leadership posts for the 148th General Assembly.

Rep. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, will continue to serve as House Speaker. He previously served as House Majority Leader from 2008-12 before being elected speaker. A retired Delaware State Police captain, he was first elected to the House in 2002.

“I’m honored to continue serving the residents of the 14th District, the members of the House Democratic Caucus and the citizens of Delaware,” said Rep. Schwartzkopf, who must be confirmed by the entire House of Representatives as speaker. “Our caucus and the General Assembly as a whole have some challenges in front of us, but we also have some great opportunities.

“The most important tasks we have in front of us are growing the middle class by creating quality jobs and protecting our most vulnerable residents. History shows that a strong middle class benefits all levels of society. Delaware families want to be able to provide for their children, ensure they get a quality education and have a good quality of life. To do that, they need the opportunity to get quality jobs with good pay and benefits. I look forward to working with all of our colleagues to move our state forward.”

Also during the standard post-election organizational meeting, members re-elected Rep. Valerie Longhurst to serve as majority leader and Rep. John Viola to serve as majority whip.

Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear, has served as House Majority Whip from 2008-12 and was first elected in 2004. Rep. Viola, D-Newark, previously chaired the House Gaming & Pari-mutuels and Revenue & Finance Committees and served on the Bond Bill Committee. He was first elected in 1998.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the caucus also discussed the committee process and submitted committee requests for the upcoming session. Committee assignments and chairs will be announced at a later date.

Incumbent representatives also welcomed two new members to the Democratic Caucus – Reps. Sean Lynn and Sean Matthews. Although these Democratic freshmen will not be formally sworn in to office until next year, by state law they already have begun their terms and are officially state representatives.

The 148th General Assembly session will convene on January 13, 2015.