Democrats solidify control in Delaware as 3 incumbents win

November 4, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this April 14, 2020 file photo, Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington, Del. Delaware residents have their first opportunity in the four-decade political career of home-state favorite Joe Biden to vote for him as a presidential candidate in a general election. Tuesday's balloting also includes Republican challenges to two of the three members of Delaware's all-Democrat congressional delegation and to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Carney. (Jerry Habraken/The News Journal via AP, File)
FILE - In this April 14, 2020 file photo, Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington, Del. Delaware residents have their first opportunity in the four-decade political career of home-state favorite Joe Biden to vote for him as a presidential candidate in a general election. Tuesday's balloting also includes Republican challenges to two of the three members of Delaware's all-Democrat congressional delegation and to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Carney. (Jerry Habraken/The News Journal via AP, File)
FILE - In this April 14, 2020 file photo, Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington, Del. Delaware residents have their first opportunity in the four-decade political career of home-state favorite Joe Biden to vote for him as a presidential candidate in a general election. Tuesday's balloting also includes Republican challenges to two of the three members of Delaware's all-Democrat congressional delegation and to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Carney. (Jerry Habraken/The News Journal via AP, File)
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FILE - In this April 14, 2020 file photo, Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington, Del. Delaware residents have their first opportunity in the four-decade political career of home-state favorite Joe Biden to vote for him as a presidential candidate in a general election. Tuesday's balloting also includes Republican challenges to two of the three members of Delaware's all-Democrat congressional delegation and to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Carney. (Jerry Habraken/The News Journal via AP, File)
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FILE - In this April 14, 2020 file photo, Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington, Del. Delaware residents have their first opportunity in the four-decade political career of home-state favorite Joe Biden to vote for him as a presidential candidate in a general election. Tuesday's balloting also includes Republican challenges to two of the three members of Delaware's all-Democrat congressional delegation and to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Carney. (Jerry Habraken/The News Journal via AP, File)

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Incumbent Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester won reelection to a third term as Delaware’s lone delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Blunt Rochester defeated Republican challenger Lee Murphy to keep her seat in Congress. Blunt Rochester is a former state labor secretary who was first elected to the House in 2016. She is the first woman and the first person of color to represent Delaware in Congress.

Blunt Rochester has sponsored 27 bills while in Congress, although none has passed. Many of her proposals are aimed at improving or expanding access to health care. She also sponsored “Clean Slate” legislation seeking to seal certain criminal records to help lower societal barriers for ex-offenders.

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THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic incumbent John Carney defeated Republican challenger Julianne Murray on Tuesday to win a second term as Delaware’s governor.

Carney enjoyed voter registration numbers that heavily favor Democrats in thwarting Murray’s bid Tuesday.

The race was seen partly as a referendum on Carney’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His closures and restrictions on businesses led to thousands of Delawareans losing their jobs and filing unemployment claims in record-shattering numbers. Murray sued Carney herself over a ban on short-term rentals he imposed early in the virus outbreak. The lawsuit remains pending in federal court.

Carney has defended his actions and said he will continue to work to protect Delawareans from COVID-19. He also has pledged to address racial justice issues, strengthen public schools and improve Delaware’s infrastructure.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic incumbent Chris Coons defeated Republican challenger Lauren Witzke on Tuesday to win reelection to the U.S. Senate in Delaware.

The win comes 10 years after Coons won a special election to fill the Senate seat once held by Joe Biden. He was reelected to a full term in 2014 with almost 56% of the vote.

Witzke is a conservative activist and political newcomer who soundly defeated the Delaware GOP’s endorsed candidate in the Republican primary but found herself fighting both Coons and fellow Republicans because of her statements and background.

Witzke has defended the neo-fascist Proud Boys, and previously promoted the baseless, far-right conspiracy theory QAnon. She also drew fire for an anti-abortion post on Facebook celebrating the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Election Day in Delaware will decide whether Democrats maintain their control of First State politics or whether Republicans can attract enough disaffected voters to achieve more of a balance on the state and federal level.

State elections commissioner Anthony Albence said Tuesday evening that heavy turnout and social distancing resulted in long lines at some precincts, but that it had been “a smooth day overall.”

As of Monday, more than 128,000 of Delaware’s roughly 738,500 registered voters had voted by mail or absentee ballot. Those early voters included more than 27% of registered Democrats and about 15% of registered Republicans.

Democrats entered Tuesday’s contest holding all three seats in Delaware’s congressional delegation, all statewide elective offices and control of both the state House and state Senate. The Democratic field in the deep blue state is led by Delaware’s own presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Joe Grossman of Magnolia is a registered Democrat who said he voted for President Donald Trump over Biden.

Grossman, 61, said he voted Republican in 2016 and did so again this year because of what he called “the radical policies of the Democrats.”

“I don’t like them, and Trump has kept his promises,” he said. “The best economy that I’ve ever seen.”

But Richard Baker of Dover, a retired truck driver, voted for Biden as part of a straight Democratic ticket.

“For the last four years, we’ve had this man who ran to become president just to make a mockery of it,” said Baker, a lifelong Democrat.

Baker said he also voted for Democratic incumbent Chris Coons in the U.S. Senate race in Delaware. Coons is seeking a second full term after winning a special election in 2010 for the seat once held by Biden and being reelected in 2014. He is being challenged by conservative activist and political newcomer Lauren Witzke.

Witzke defeated the Delaware GOP’s endorsed candidate in the Republican primary, but found herself fighting both Coons and fellow Republicans because of her statements and background. Witzke has defended the neo-fascist Proud Boys and previously promoted the baseless, far-right conspiracy theory QAnon. She also drew fire for an anti-abortion post on Facebook celebrating the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Incumbent Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester is seeking a third term as Delaware’s lone delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is being challenged by Republican Lee Murphy, a retired Amtrak conductor who lost a GOP primary for the House seat two years ago. Blunt Rochester is the only woman and person of color to represent Delaware in Congress.

The last time Delaware voters sent a Republican to Washington was 2008.

On the state level, Democratic Gov. John Carney is facing Republican challenger Julianne Murray. The race is seen at least in part as a referendum on Carney’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His business closures and restrictions led to thousands of Delawareans losing their jobs and filing unemployment claims in record-shattering numbers. Murray, an attorney, has sued Carney over a ban on short-term rentals he imposed early in the virus outbreak.

Democrats also went into the election with a 12-9 advantage in the state Senate and a 26-15 margin in the state House. They have made a concerted push to flip Senate seats held by potentially vulnerable Republican incumbents and strengthen their Senate majority to the point where they would no longer require GOP support to reach the required supermajorities to pass tax bills and certain other measures.

No matter what happens Tuesday, the legislature is sure to have at least a few new faces given that progressive newcomers unseated three long-serving incumbents, including the state Senate president, in the September Democratic primary.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.