Castle and Biden had different paths to politics

Mike Castle
Mike Castle

by Kathy Canavan

Former Congressman Mike Castle said he doesn’t know who’s going to win the presidential election. “Don’t even ask me who I’m voting for at this point,” he said.

Castle explained his own random path into politics at the Delaware State Chamber Leadership Breakfast in Wilmington earlier this month — a path much different than Vice President Joe Biden’s.

“I sort of grew into it,” he said. “I think Joe Biden was born and his first thought in life was ‘I want to be president of the United States.’ He did pretty well. He didn’t quite make it to the top, but he did pretty well.”

Castle’s path was more adventitious. “I had no interest in public service, but, I was walking up the street by the Wilmington Library and I saw [attorney] Larry Sullivan. Larry said, ‘How would you like to be vice president of the Young Republicans?’” Castle said. “I said, ‘I don’t know how I can be vice president, because I’m not even a member of the Young Republicans.’ He said, ‘I’m the only member, and I’m the president. If you joined, you’d be the vice president.’”

That led to Castle’s successful run for a seat in the House of Representatives. When he went to work in Dover in 1966, it was only his second time there. The first was to play basketball against Dover High.

He went on be state senator, lieutenant governor, governor and Delaware’s sole Congressman.

Castle shared some of what he learned in his 54 years in Delaware politics:

  • “You really do need to surround yourself with the best people possible . . . Get people smarter than you are, and things will work out for you … It’s vitally important that you put the right people in place, not just because they are somebody’s cousin.”
  • “You need to focus on the job at hand. It’s very important to focus on that and to carry out your agenda.
  • “It’s very important to let people know what you’re doing. You don’t want to do anything in secret.”
  • “Leaders in government and leaders in business need to develop ideas. To do that, you need to talk to people. You need to read. You need to listen very carefully to what people have to say.”

“My judgment is Delaware can return to the stature it had a few years ago. We don’t need to be called the murder capital in Wilmington. We don’t need to be worried that we’re paying too much money for state government or that our schools are not where they should be,” he said, urging his listeners to join a board or volunteer for a candidate they support.

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