Delta Airline pilot, declared his candidacy for governor


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Airline pilot Mike Protack enters governor's race
By Jim Cresson
Yorklyn Republican and Delta Airline pilot Michael Protack declared his candidacy for governor, Jan. 20, with a morning announcement in Georgetown followed by appearances in Kent and New Castle counties.

Protack, a former Marine Corps officer who has flown commercial airliners for the past 15 years, said he believes the current state leadership set limits on what it can do. He said he is frustrated and disappointed with a Minner administration he characterized as lacking in vision.

“We’ve accepted mediocrity and managed problems inadequately,” Protack told reporters during his campaign announcement. “Delaware Republicans are eager for a new leader who wants to chart a new course. They want a governor with forward-looking ideas and common sense answers.”

Protack said his candidacy is focused on challenging Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. He said he has no bones to pick with fellow Republican candidate Bill Lee.

“In this election we must move beyond the dead weight of tradition and realize that Delaware’s destiny as a state is limited by our political leadership,” Protack said. “I look to chart a new course for the state not defined by limits but driven by possibilities.”

Protack immediately called for the resignations of Delaware Public Safety and Homeland Security Secretary James Ford and Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Aaron Chaffinch in light of a recent court verdict that they discriminated against two police officers by not promoting them because they are white.

“They should resign today,” he said. “We need a new, independent and professional leadership for the state police. Every citizen should be concerned about the state of public safety in Delaware, especially as we’re 0-for-two in lawsuits.”

He said if elected he would have an audit done to see how many state employees are actually needed to run Delaware efficiently. “Nobody knows if we have the right number,” he explained. “Each state agency should be audited, and I would have that done because we need to know.”

Protack’s platform includes plans for a single low-rate tax structure for all taxpayers, an increased personal deduction to $10,000 for payroll tax relief, and the establishment of voluntary “freedom funds” for long-term health care, education and retirement. Taxpayers could withhold 5 percent of their income before taxes for each fund.

“The Republican proposal for a small tax reduction is well intentioned, but falls way short of the fundamental reform needed to benefit the majority of taxpayers,” he said. “I am on record favoring the total elimination of the gross receipts tax over a 10-year period.”

He also said he would change the way the state budgets its operations. “I would adopt a biennial budget with quarterly performance reviews based on Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) definitions,” he explained. “And I would limit budget growth to inflation plus population growth.”

He said the state should help pay for students to attend private schools and should eliminate the tiered diploma system.

“Only 52 percent of our students can pass the state performance tests,” he said. “We need excellence in the classrooms. I would establish accountability scholarships for students attending schools that do not attain a 70 percent passing rate on state tests. Each student would receive $5,000 for private, parochial, charter or home schooling. I would also establish opportunity scholarships for students who qualify for accountability scholarships but are considered low income. They would receive $7,500.”

Protack said he would continue to support the Minner administration Livable Delaware Initiative, but added that problems with the initiative could be resolved under his leadership. “I hear complaints all the time about Livable Delaware,” he said. “It has good intentions, I believe, but it needs a lot of improvement.”

Protack ran in a 2002 U.S. Senate Republican primary race against Ray Clatworthy, but withdrew his candidacy at the convention. “I enter this race without any political baggage,” he said.

Protack and wife, Mary Ann, have two sons, one in medical school and one enrolled at St. Edmonds Academy in Wilmington.

In addition to volunteering in school activities during his children’s education, Protack is a past vice chairman of the Delaware Conservative Caucus. He is a member of the Metropolitan Urban League of Wilmington, the National Eagle Scout Association, the National Rifle Association, and a volunteer leader with the boy Scouts of America.

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Think he'll try and squeeze in his gubernatorial duties on his days off from DL?
If not, will he have to resign his senority number?
I suspect he'll have to do a leave of absence, but not resign his seniority.

I wish him luck; I'm not a Delaware resident, but it sounds like he's got some good ideas.

Finally a governer that like aviation
Maybe the state will get that Citation after all
Ruth Ann hates the fact that we have an airplane