Blunt Rochester sworn in to Congress

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., celebrates with Vice President Joe Biden during swearing-in ceremonies for the 115th Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 3. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Lisa Blunt Rochester was sworn in as Delaware’s U.S. representative Tuesday, joining 58 other freshman members of the 115th Congress.

A Democrat, she is the first woman and first minority the state has sent to Congress.

Rep. Blunt Rochester garnered 55.5 percent of the vote in November, defeating Republican Hans Reigle and two minor-party candidates.

She succeeds John Carney, who opted not to run for a fourth term to seek the governor’s seat.

“People ask me what it’s like to make history and today looking over the ceiling of the Library of Congress and looking out at the Capitol, the gravity of this day is not lost on me. Today, being sworn in, I know that hope is still alive,” Rep. Blunt Rochester said in a statement. “I’m incredibly humbled and excited to begin working on behalf of all Delawareans to build our economy and move our nation forward.”

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., waves to the gallery as she arrives on the House floor to take the oath of office Tuesday. (CQ Roll Call via AP Images/Bill Clark)

While the Democrat will be dealing with a Republican Congress and president, Rep. Blunt Rochester expressed optimism at Return Day two months ago. She has been critical of President-elect Donald Trump but said after the election she would give him “a chance to lead.”

“I’m just ready to go to work,” she said.

A former state labor secretary, she emphasized job creation in her campaign while also pledging to protect the Affordable Care Act, push for more gun control and support Planned Parenthood.

She bested five other Democrats in September to claim the nomination.

In statements, Delaware’s other two members of Congress — its U.S. senators — both Democrats, praised their new colleague.

“I first met Lisa at a town hall meeting many years ago in Delaware,” Sen. Tom Carper said. “Not too long after, she joined my congressional office as an intern and then began quickly rising through the ranks. She was a constituent caseworker focused on helping people experiencing hardships with their social security benefits, disability insurance claims, IRS disputes and housing needs.

“Later, when I served as Delaware’s governor, she was a pivotal part of my administration, taking the lead on initiatives that focused on strengthening families, and later becoming Delaware’s deputy secretary of Health and Social Services and then secretary of the Department of Labor and state personnel director.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., joins Vice President Joe Biden.

“Lisa exhibits all of the qualities of a good leader. She is humble, not haughty. She does the right thing, not the expedient thing. She has been and will continue to be a positive force for Delaware.”

Calling her qualified to serve in the House, Sen. Chris Coons said she “will be a tremendous advocate in Washington for the people of Delaware.”

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