Former governor visits Delaware campus
Public Relations - Published: April 23, 2009
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from left, Students Bonnie Copeland, Damien Tancredi, Rob Gordon, Caitlin Quinn, Law Dean Linda L. Ammons, former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont, and students Ozge Otarsi, Kevin Gallagher and Bill Alleman.

A popular retired Delaware politician recently told a luncheon audience on the Delaware campus that his goal in speaking with them was to “get somebody in the room to run for governor when the time comes.”

“It is absolutely the best job going,” Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont said on his Thursday, April 16 visit to the school. Law Dean Linda L. Ammons invited the former Republican Delaware governor, who served from 1976 to 1984, to have lunch on campus after they were introduced by retired Delaware Supreme Court Justice William T. Quillen, a Widener Law adjunct.

Du Pont delighted his Widener audience of 60 students, faculty and staff with stories of his law school days at Harvard and his accomplishments as governor.

He recalled former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno as a close classmate in law school – and one who had a terrific sense of humor. He spoke about competing in the finals of a Harvard moot court competition in front of an audience of 500 and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White as the judge. “That makes your heart stop a little,” he said.

After law school, du Pont returned to Delaware and took a job with the Du Pont Co. at its Wilmington headquarters, and he resigned in 1968 to begin his political career. Life as a governor, he said, was rewarding because as the state’s leader he could get people talking with new policy ideas, sign good bills and veto bad ones. He spoke of his accomplishments in creating the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission and the Financial Center Development Act, which brought banks, credit card companies and thousands of jobs to the First State.

“I know it’s nice to be a lawyer,” he said, “but you really ought to be a governor, because it’s a great, great job.”

Today, du Pont is retired from Richards, Layton & Finger. He is a regular columnist in the Wall Street Journal.