Thomas Richard "Tom" Carper (born January 23, 1947) is an American Democratic Party politician from Wilmington, Delaware, and currently that state's senior United States Senator. Carper is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served five terms as United States Representative from Delaware and two terms as Governor of Delaware prior to his election to the Senate in 2000.
Carper was born in Beckley, West Virginia, son of Wallace Richard and Mary Jean Patton Carper. He grew up in Danville, Virginia and graduated from Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio. He then graduated from the Ohio State University in 1968, where he was in the U.S. Navy ROTC and earned a degree in economics. Also while he was in college, Carper was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. Serving as a Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy from 1968 until 1973, he saw active duty in Vietnam, flying submarine hunting airplanes. He remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve for another 18 years and retired with the rank of Captain. Meanwhile he moved to Delaware and earned an MBA from the University of Delaware in 1975. Carper has been married twice, first in 1978, to Diane Beverly Isaacs, a former Miss Delaware, who had two children by a previous marriage. Following a 1983 divorce, he married Martha Ann Stacy in 1985, and with her he has two children, Christopher and Benjamin. They are members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
While in college at the Ohio State University, Carper worked on the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy, the Minnesota peace candidate. Once in Delaware he was campaign treasurer for University of Delaware professor James R. Soles in his unsuccessful 1974 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. Upon receiving his MBA degree in 1975, Carper went to work for the State of Delaware in its economic development office. In 1976, with his good contacts in the Democratic Party leadership, no other obvious Democratic candidate, and a $5,000 personal loan, Carper convinced the party leaders, and later the voters, that he was the right person to be Delaware State Treasurer. Defeating the favored Republican Party candidate, Theodore Jones, he served three terms, from January 18, 1977 through January 3, 1983, during which time he led the development of Delaware's first cash management system.