The House Democratic Caucus selected Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf to serve as the new Speaker of the House Tuesday evening, succeeding the retired Rep. Robert F. Gilligan.
Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, has served as House Majority Leader for the past four years, leading the House redistricting process last year. A retired Delaware State Police captain, he was first elected to the House in 2002. He succeeds Gilligan, who had served as speaker since Democrats won the majority in the House in 2008.
“Obviously, I have big shoes to fill, but Bob Gilligan also was a mentor and a friend. I learned a great deal working alongside and serving with him. I can only hope to continue his leadership and respect for this institution,” said Rep. Schwartzkopf, who must be confirmed by the entire House.
“Our first task as leadership is going to be to make sure we have strong committee chairs and a cohesive caucus. We have a young caucus, which is exciting, but it means we also have to come together as a group so we can continue the good work we have been doing for the last four years in moving our state forward.”
Also during the standard post-election organizational meeting, members 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 for the past four years and was first elected in 2004. Viola, D-Newark, previously chaired the House Gaming & Pari-mutuels and Revenue & Finance Committees. He was first elected in 1998. Committee assignments and chairs will be announced at a later date.