Undergraduate education: Brown University
Graduate education: University of Chicago
Jack Markell was born in Newark, Del., and currently lives in Wilmington. He earned a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.
After working as a banker, consultant and executive at Comcast Corp., Markell earned a fortune in the telecommunications industry, helping grow a startup company into the company now known as Nextel, a name that he coined.
Markell was elected state treasurer in 1998 and won re-election twice by overwhelming margins. He was named one of the Democratic Party's "100 Rising Stars" at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
He was elected governor in 2008.
Markell and his wife, Carla, have two children.
Jack Markell upset the Democratic Party establishment in 2008 when he gave up his post as state treasurer to run for governor, waging a successful primary against then-Lt. Gov. John Carney, the favorite of party leaders.
As governor, Markell saw his financial and business acumen immediately put to the test amid the nationwide economic downturn. In his first budget proposal, Markell called for $330 million in spending reductions, including an across-the-board pay cut for state employees. Lawmakers approved some but not all of his spending cuts, at the same time raising personal income, corporation and other taxes.
While Markell says job creation is his top priority, he has relied on a variety of gambling initiatitves to boost state revenue. In 2010, he revived and expanded Delaware's sports betting lottery, but professional sports leagues and the NCAA won a lawsuit restricting the betting to NFL football parlays, resulting in far less revenue for the state than officials had hoped. Markell also signed legislation allowing table games and backed a failed effort in 2011 to expand the number of casinos in Delaware. In 2012, Delaware became the first state to allow online gambling while also expanding sports betting to non-casino sites such as bars and convenience stores.
Markell has had limited success fulfilling his top priority of job creation. Delaware's annual unemployment rate of 7.3 percent for 2011 was only slightly better than the 7.9 percent rate for 2009, when Markell took office. Under his watch, banks and other financial institutions have added jobs, and Amazon.com announced that it would open its second warehouse in Delaware, creating more than 850 new jobs.
But other job-creation efforts have had mixed results. Markell offered millions in incentives to persuade Fisker Automotive, a California-based manufacturer of luxury electric vehicles, to build its second production model at a former General Motors assembly plant in Delaware. But Fisker's plans were put on hold in 2012 when the U.S. Department of Energy withheld the balance of a $529 million loan after Fisker missed its marks with its first production model.
Markell also has risked millions of dollars to lure fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy to Delaware. The state also watered down its renewable energy standards to include energy from Bloom's fuel cells, even though they will be powered by non-renewable natural gas. The state also offered $45 million in incentives to persuade PBF Energy Partners to buy and re-open a Delaware City oil refinery after Valero Energy announced that it would halt operations and lay off 550 workers. PBF subsequently postponed much-touted plans for a $1 billion expansion of the refinery
In March 2010, Delaware, along with Tennessee, won the first grants under President Barack Obama's administration's "Race to the Top" education reform plan. Delaware was awarded more than $100 million to help turn around its public schools, more than half of which failed to make adequate progress in 2010 under the federal No Child Left Behind Act guidelines.
Politically, Markell has worked to raise his national profile, serving as chairman of the National Governors Association during 2012, appearing periodically on morning cable news shows and making appearances on behalf of President Barack Obama's re-election effort in 2012.
On the state level, Markell's hand-picked successor as state treasurer lost her re-election bid in a 2010 Democratic primary. In 2012, he endorsed the strong-armed Democratic state Senate leader, who lost his bid for re-election in a primary contest against a political newcomer.
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Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 68% (2008).
(Last updated by Randall Chase on September 27, 2012.)