Legislator & Governor
After one term in the Delaware State House and three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pete sought and won the Delaware governorship. He was inaugurated Jan. 18, 1977, and wasted no time, immediately issuing his first executive order to increase transparency among state officials.
When his administration began, rancor and confrontation were commonplace. Delaware faced huge challenges, including a financial structure that drove employers away at a time when 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 that culture by winning the confidence, even affection, of former political foes. With that approach in Dover and with critical support from the loyal opposition, he forged consensus about constitutional financial reforms and tax reductions.
The du Pont administration worked with others in the state to push through the 1981 Financial Center Development Act, which made the state significantly more attractive to banks and financial institutions by making taxes fairer and reducing unnecessary and outdated regulation. Numerous banks entered the state, creating tens of thousands of financial services jobs and additional employment in other industries that flowed from this economic growth. The banks included JP Morgan Chase, Citicorp and MBNA. Their contributions reached beyond their impact on jobs and real estate to further many community and nonprofit organizations.
Pete’s administration drove the effort to lower taxes and restrain government spending. During his two terms as governor, Pete’s appreciation for a healthy economy, coupled with incentives for employers, led to continued job growth and prosperity for the First State – leaving a legacy that continues to lift Delaware families and businesses.