Newark progressive Rep. John Kowalko announces retirement

The News Journal | by Sarah Gamard

Longtime Newark Rep. John Kowalko, an outspoken stalwart of the growing progressive faction of the Delaware Democratic Party, announced on Thursday that he will retire by the end of the year.

“There is a time for everyone to pass the baton, and this term end is my time,” Kowalko said on the House floor on Thursday afternoon.

Kowalko, 76, has held the seat since 2006. His district includes the University of Delaware.

Before the 2020 elections brought in a flock of progressive newcomers, Kowalko was perhaps the most vociferously progressive member of the 41-person House. Last year, he sponsored an unsuccessful bill to raise taxes on people making more than $125,000 per year.

Fighting back tears on Thursday, Kowalko said he hopes to pass on his position to a lawmaker who is just as progressive.

The Philadelphia-raised lawmaker chairs the Manufactured Housing Committee.

Kowalko is the third lawmaker in the 62-person General Assembly who plans to retire by the end of this year.

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