[caption id="attachment_235671" align="aligncenter" width="1088"] Bob Byrd (right), partner of ByrdGomes, was celebrated for his life's work in lobbying by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce by the DiSabatino award earlier this week. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DICK DUBROFF / FINAL FOCUS PHOTOGRAPHY[/caption]
WILMINGTON — Bob Byrd has never missed a Delaware State Chamber of Commerce dinner in years, and he’s enjoyed working with hundreds of professionals and anticipating the surprise of who won the Marvel Cup.Byrd thought this year would be like any other: except the surprise was that he was named the recipient of the Dick DiSabatino award.“I was on stage, and I thought I was giving the award to somebody else, but they’re very good at keeping it very, very secret,” Byrd told the Delaware Business Times. “I had no idea until they started to introduce me, and Mike [Quaranta, the DSCC President] turned to me. I was absolutely blown away.”Unlike the other highest honor from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, the Marvel Cup, the DiSabatino award is rarely given. Established in the 1990s, the award is to recognize significant contributions to shape opinion and public policy in the state of Delaware.The DSCC last presented the award in 2021 to former state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry. Other previous winners include Representative Joseph G. DiPinto and Delaware Public Policy Institute Executive Director John H. Taylor Jr.“I’d certainly like to thank the chamber. They went through great lengths to make sure I didn’t know, and I’m very touched by that,” Byrd added.Bob Byrd is a longtime state lobbyist, partner at New Castle-based firm ByrdGomes and has been involved in Delaware’s politics for close to 50 years. He was inspired when his mother got involved in politics. He was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in 1974 at age 25, served two terms and finished his legislative career as majority whip.
[caption id="attachment_235672" align="alignright" width="392"] Byrd has been involved in Delaware’s politics for close to 50 years. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DICK DUBROFF / FINAL FOCUS PHOTOGRAPHY[/caption]
“It’s a universal truth in Delaware politics that when you need advice, you call Byrdie,” President Joe Biden wrote in part in his congratulatory letter to Byrd.Among many of his achievements, he served in several leadership roles at the DSCC before transitioning into lobbying full-time in 1988. His resume includes stops at Wood Byrd & Associates, The Byrd Group and now ByrdGomes. In 2020, he started to carry out a succession plan that resulted in him selling a majority stake in the lobbying firm to his daughter Rebecca Byrd and her business partner Kim Gomes.“My work today is not a whole lot different from what I was doing in the past 50 years, I’m just blessed to have my daughter in the business. And we’re a team,” Byrd said. “The plan is to cut down a little, but I’ll still be around the legislators.”Considered a “Jedi Master of government arts” among Delaware leaders, he is also known for working to legalize slot machines and the passage of the Delaware Financial Center Development Act of 1981. The former granted Dover Downs enough leverage to spin off into its own casino and entertainment entity, and the latter created more than 40,000 jobs and established Delaware as a financial hub.Gov. Ruth Ann Minner also tapped him to lead the Delaware Economic & Financial Advisory Council, the group responsible for the revenue projections and sets the limits for the state budgets. To this day, he still sits on DEFAC. He also is still active in the DSCC, serving on and chairing multiple committees. He has also sat on the Board of Governors since 1993.Byrd thanked the DSCC for the award, but also paid tribute to his friend, DiSabatino. A businessman who worked at MBNA and Wilmington Trust, he was around government officials during his career. He also helped start the Cancer Support Community Delaware as a way to give back to the community.“Dickie was a great guy, and he was very involved in public service,” Byrd said. “He did all the things that a business person should do in relation to public service.”
Important notice for access to your Delaware Business Times “Insider” content
Flash Sale! Subscribe to Delaware Business Times and save 50%.