Democrats ex­pand con­trol of Delaware pol­i­tics

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - By RAN­DALL CHASE As­so­ci­ated Press

A blue wave swept over the First State on Tues­day as Democrats tight­ened their stran­gle­hold on Delaware, sweep­ing fed­eral and statewide races and pad­ding their mar­gins in both cham­bers of the leg­is­la­ture.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper led the way for Democrats, win­ning a fourth term and keep­ing his un­beaten cam­paign record in­tact through more than four decades in pol­i­tics.

“He’s done Delaware good,” said Ro­gette Clark, 54, of Fel­ton, a reg­is­tered In­de­pen­dent who voted for Carper. At the same time, Clark said she agreed with those who think Carper has been in Wash­ing­ton too long.

“But you have to have a stronger op­po­nent against him,” she said.

Carper, who served five terms in the U.S. House and two terms as gover­nor be­fore be­ing elected to the Se­nate in 2000, eas­ily de­feated Repub­li­can Rob Ar­lett, a Sus­sex County coun­cil­man who was Don­ald Trump’s state cam­paign chair in 2016.

Carper’s re-elec­tion fol­lowed his trounc­ing of a pro­gres­sive chal­lenger in a Septem­ber Demo­cratic pri­mar y, stem­ming an anti­estab­lish­ment tide hop­ing to move the Demo­cratic party to the left.

“I’ve had a pri­mary be­fore but never one from the left flank of our party like that,” Carper said. “That was un­usual.”

Carper, 71, has staked out a po­si­tion in Wash­ing­ton as a cen­trist law­maker with a strong in­ter­est in en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. Dur­ing the cam­paign, he touted his ex­pe­ri­ence and his abil­ity to work with law­mak­ers from both sides of the aisle, de­spite be­ing a vo­cal Trump critic, call­ing the pres­i­dent “ex­treme” af­ter a de­bate last month.

Carper sounded more con­cil­ia­tory Tues­day, say­ing he hopes to find com­mon ground with Repub­li­cans on is­sues such as pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and im­prov­ing the na­tion’s in­fra­struc­ture.

“I think there’s a hunger to try to find com­mon ground,” he said. “We’re go­ing to look for ways to work to­gether. When we dif­fer, we’ll fight it out.”

Mean­while, Demo­cratic U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first black and first woman to be elected to Congress from Delaware, eas­ily de­feated Repub­li­can Scott Walker to re­tain her seat.

“This elec­tion was for the soul of our coun­try,” Rochester said.

On the state level, Demo­cratic Kath­leen Jen­nings, who dom­i­nated fundrais­ing and spend­ing among all cam­paigns, de­feated Repub­li­can Bernard Pepukayi in the con­test to suc­ceed re­tir­ing Demo­cratic At­tor­ney Gen­eral Matt Denn.

“My goal and my pur­pose in run­ning has been to make Delaware a safer place for all of use to live, to make our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem fair and equal to ever yone, and to pro­vide treat­ment for those in cri­sis who are ad­dicted,” Jen­nings said. “Those are my pri­or­i­ties.”

Democrats also took the other two statewide races, with Kathy McGuin­ness de­feat­ing for­mer Ne­wark cop James Spadola to suc­ceed re­tir­ing GOP state au­di­tor Tom Wag­ner, and health care con­sul­tant Colleen Davis up­set­ting in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Ken Sim­pler in the state trea­surer’s race. With those losses, Repub­li­cans gave up the only statewide of­fices they held.

Democrats also dashed Repub­li­can hopes of tak­ing con­trol of the state Se­nate for the first time since 1973, up­set­ting GOP Mi­nor­ity Whip Greg Lavelle to im­prove their mar­gin in the cham­ber from 11-10 to 12-9.

Democrats also picked up a seat in the state House, de­feat­ing GOP Mi­nor­ity Whip Deb­o­rah Hud­son, who was first elected in 1994 and was the long­est-serv­ing mem­ber of the House. Democrats now have a 26-15 ad­van­tage in that

AP PHOTO/STEVE RUARK

In­cum­bent Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., left, and his wife, Martha, raise their hands at an elec­tion night party in Wilm­ing­ton. Carper has been re-elected to a fourth term.

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