Thomas Richard "Tom" Carper (born January 23, 1947) is the senior United States Senator from Delaware and a member of the Democratic Party. He was previously the 71st Governor of Delaware and a United States Representative. A native of Danville, Carper graduated from the Ohio State University. Serving as a Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy from 1968 until 1973, he saw active duty in the Vietnam War. He remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve for another 18 years and retired with the rank of Captain. Upon receiving his MBA from the University of Delaware in 1975, Carper went to work for the State of Delaware in its economic development office. He was elected state Treasurer, serving from 1977 to 1983 and leading the development of Delaware's first cash management system. Encouraged by local politicians, Carper successfully ran for Delaware's only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He served five terms in the House, where he chaired the Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization. In 1992 he arranged a "swap" with term-limited Governor Michael Castle, and the two were easily elected to each other's seats. Carper governed for two terms as a moderate, business-oriented "New Democrat", following the lead of the two previous Republican governors. He successfully avoided the closing of a General Motors automobile operation and won a bid for the headquarters of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. He led a tax-reduction campaign and helped improve the state's credit rating from among the worst in the nation to an excellent "AAA". He pushed for standards-based education, among other reforms. A groundswell of Democratic turnout in 2000 ensured Carper's election to the U.S. Senate, where he is now serving his second term. As a senator he serves as one of four Deputy Democratic Whips. On the Senate Homeland Security Committee he chairs the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security, and on the Environment and Public Works Committee he chairs the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.
Carper was born in Beckley, West Virginia, son of Wallace Richard and Mary Jean Patton Carper. He grew up in Danville, Virginia and graduated from Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio. He then graduated from the Ohio State University in 1968, where he was in the U.S. Navy ROTC and earned a degree in economics.
Also while he was in college, Carper was a member of the Delta Tau Deltafraternity. Serving as a Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy from 1968 until 1973, he saw active duty in Vietnam, flying submarine hunting airplanes. He remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve for another 18 years and retired with the rank of Captain. Meanwhile he moved to Delaware and earned an MBA from the University of Delaware in 1975. Carper has been married twice, first in 1978, to Diane Beverly Isaacs, a former Miss Delaware, who had two children by a previous marriage. Following a 1983 divorce, he married Martha Ann Stacy in 1985, and with her he has two children, Christopher and Benjamin. They are members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
While in college at the Ohio State University, Carper worked on the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy, the Minnesota peace candidate. Once in Delaware he was campaign treasurer for University of Delaware professor James R. Soles in his unsuccessful 1974 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. Upon receiving his MBA degree in 1975, Carper went to work for the State of Delaware in its economic development office. In 1976, with his good contacts in the Democratic Party leadership, no other obvious Democratic candidate, and a $5,000 personal loan, Carper convinced the party leaders, and later the voters, that he was the right person to be Delaware State Treasurer. Defeating the favored Republican Party candidate, Theodore Jones, he served three terms, from January 18, 1977 through January 3, 1983, during which time he led the development of Delaware's first cash management system.
U.S. House of Representatives
Carper went on to serve five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. To win his second term in 1984, he defeated Elise R.W. du Pont, the wife of former Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV. During his years in the U. S. House of Representatives Carper sought to gain better control of the Democratic Party organization in Delaware that he hoped someday would help him become Governor. Heavily Democratic and with over half of the population of the state, New Castle County was the key.
Governor of Delaware
In 1992, Tom Carper was elected Governor of Delaware, defeating the Republican candidate, B. Gary Scott and ended up serving two terms. Carper's independent, New Democrat approach made him popular among voters, but caused grumbling among old line Democrats, particularly union leaders, who complained that not enough of them were getting patronage jobs after the many years of Republican control.
United States Senator
In December 2004 Carper became a part of the Senate Democratic Leadership. Carper won reelection to a second term in 2006 against Republican candidate Jan C. Ting. He has served with the Democratic Party minority in the 108th and 109th Congresses, and is part of the Democratic majority in the 110th Congress. In January 2009 Carper briefly chaired a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on the Tennessee Valley Authority's coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee.
June 6th, 2011