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Former Delaware Gov. Pierre “Pete” duPont has died.
DuPont, 86, had been in ill health for some time.
While serving as governor, duPont, the Republican and a member of the prominent Delaware family, is widely credited with helping Delaware pull out of a steep economic decline.
His administration pushed through the Financial Center Delaware Act, which brought tens of thousands of financial services jobs to Delaware after the state lifted interest rate caps on credit cards and made other changes.
The lack of interest rate cap led to the state becoming a credit card mecca. Banks also located back office and technology jobs in Delaware.
The Pete duPont Freedom Foundation, founded in his honor, released the following:
While the news of Go.du Pont’s passing was not unexpected; all those at the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation are deeply saddened by this great loss. For a shining moment in Delaware’s history, the State had a great leader and a steadfast friend. Pete du Pont possessed clear vision, buoyant enthusiasm, and a fascination for innovative approaches to old problems.
When the du Pont Administration began, rancor and confrontation were commonplace. Delaware faced enormous challenges, including a financial structure that drove employers away at the very time that good jobs were critical to our future. State government spent more than it could afford; tax increases were the solution of choice for prior administrations; and no one had a plan to attract jobs and rebuild the economy. Pete changed all that by winning the confidence, even affection, of former political opponents. With that cultural change in Dover and with critical support from the loyal opposition, he forged consensus about Constitutional financial reforms and tax reductions. More remarkable, Governor du Pont spotted opportunity in the nation’s hodge-podge of bank laws, positioning Delaware as a center for the credit card industry. No single piece of legislation has had more immediate or significant impact on Delaware’s economy.
Beyond these specific accomplishments, Pete demonstrated that good will, humor and a genuine sense of neighborliness, coupled with clear vision, can transform a state. Those values are in short supply these days, making Pete du Pont’s passing yet more noteworthy. Delaware will miss its good friend, Pete du Pont. The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation exists to preserve that legacy by honoring the Governor’s accomplishments while creating enthusiasm for innovation that can nurture our future.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, who also served as governor and Congressman, issued the following statement:
“In 1976, as I assumed the role of State Treasurer and Pete became Governor, Delaware faced critical financial challenges. But we came together – a Republican Governor, Democratic State Treasurer, and the Democratic and Republican leadership in the legislature, and eventually put into place reforms that continue to serve our state well today. Pete knew that one of the best things you can do to help someone is help them get a job, so he was very focused on creating a nurturing environment for job growth and job preservation as governor. I worked hard to continue that model he created during the eight years I served in that role.
Carper continued, “Pete came from great wealth, but he had an ability to connect with people from all walks of life. One of my fondest memories was when – after much cajoling from the crowd – he joined them in dancing to the bluegrass band at the Georgetown Oyster Eat in his well-worn, holed sweater. Pete was a very decent, kind human being, and Delaware is a better place today because of him.”
Gov. John Carney released the following:
Delaware lost a real leader today. Governor Pete du Pont served a single term in the Delaware House of Representatives before representing Delawareans for six years in the U.S. Congress, and going on to serve two terms as governor .As governor, he found ways to work across the aisle to address an immediate fiscal crisis and make Delaware more competitive economically. He championed sound fiscal practices, including creating the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, that have served Delaware well for decades.
Working with members of the General Assembly, he signed legislation that helped create the financial services industry in our state, which continues to employ thousands of Delawareans.
Governor du Pont was a good and decent man who loved Delaware. Tracey and I are praying for his wife Elise, There, Ben, Pierre, Elise and their entire family tonight.
Pete duPont, citing his record in turning around the state, ran for president in 1988.
After his public career, duPont wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal that offered mainstream conservative views on economic issues.