DOVER— Democrats maintained their control of Delaware’s congressional delegation Tuesday, and Democratic Gov. John Carney won reelection to a second term.
Delaware voters also gave former Vice President Joe Biden a home-state victory over Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also, 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 in Congress. She is a former state labor secretary who was first elected to the House in 2016. Blunt Rochester is the only woman and the first person of color to represent Delaware in Congress.
The last time Delaware voters sent a Republican to Washington was 2008.
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 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.
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.”