DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democrats maintained their control of Delaware politics Tuesday, keeping hold of the state's congressional delegation, the governor's seat and all statewide offices.
Delaware voters also gave former Vice President Joe Biden a home-state victory over Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race.
Democratic Gov. John Carney defeated Republican challenger Julianne Murray. 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.
“I think it’s an affirmation of our response to COVID-19,” Carney said of his victory, noting the coronavirus pandemic was a key issue in the race.
“We know what works and what doesn’t work, and we’re trying to do what works here in Delaware, and people, I think, understood that,” he added.
Murray, an attorney, 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.
Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Chris Coons defeated Republican challenger Lauren Witzke to win reelection to the U.S. Senate. The win comes 10 years after Coons won a special election to fill the Senate seat once held by Biden. He was reelected to a full term in 2014 with almost 56% of the vote.
“I’m humbled and honored, and I am grateful, to have the chance to serve Delaware and to fight for Delaware in D.C., our nation’s capital, again,” Coons said. He said he has fought hard for all Delawareans over the past decade and intends to continue doing so.
“I’m going to keep working across the aisle,” added Coons, who has shown a willingness to work in a bipartisan manner with Republicans on issues but almost always votes in step with fellow Democrats.
Witzke is a conservative activist and political newcomer who 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.
Meanwhile, incumbent Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester won reelection to a third term as Delaware’s lone delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Blunt Rochester defeated Republican challenger Lee Murphy to keep her seat. Blunt Rochester, a former state labor secretary, 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.
In other races, Democratic incumbents Bethany Hall-Long and Trinidad Navarro were reelected as lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner, respectively. Democrats also hold the attorney general, treasurer and state auditor's offices.
Democrats entered Tuesday’s contest holding all three seats in Delaware’s congressional delegation. They also went into the election with a 12-9 advantage in the state Senate and a 26-15 margin in the state House. They made a concerted push to flip Senate seats held by potentially vulnerable Republican incumbents and strengthen their Senate majority.
No matter the final outcome on Election Day, the legislature was sure to have a new look. Democrat Sarah McBride won an open seat long held by Democrats to become the country's first openly transgender person elected to a state Senate. Several other progressive Democrats were elected after defeating incumbent lawmakers in the September Democratic primary.
Marie Pinkney, a social worker who unseated the long-serving Senate president pro tem in the Democratic primary and defeated her GOP opponent Tuesday, said Delawareans are ready for “something different.”
Pinkney said issues she wants to focus on include a Medicaid buy-in program, universal child care, marijuana legalization and gun control.
“I’m very excited for what the freshman class is going to look like in the Senate, and I think that Delaware is really, really in store for some game-changing legislation, she said.
Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.