Carney cruises to a second term as Delaware governor

Gov. John Carney elbow bumps a voter at the Cheswold Fire Station on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Gov. John Carney earned a second term Tuesday, holding back a challenge from Republican Julianne Murray and two third-party candidates by drawing 59.4% of the vote.

The results are largely a referendum on the governor’s handling of the pandemic, which had received harsh criticism from Republicans but otherwise drawn the approval of most Delawareans. The state has been under restrictions since mid-March, with individuals required to wear face coverings in public. Many businesses are not at full capacity, and most schools are operating under a virtual or hybrid system.

While Ms. Murray has bashed the governor’s approach to COVID, urging for the state to reopen immediately and denouncing the mask mandate, Gov. Carney has consistently said he is listening to medical experts, with public health and economic success intertwined.

“We just decided to follow the science and … let the political chips fall where they may,” he said Tuesday night.

The Democratic nominee has won the past seven gubernatorial elections here, failing to hit at least 58% only once in that time. Gov. Carney garnered 58.3% in 2016.

He is the sixth consecutive governor to be elected to the constitutional maximum of two terms.

“Tonight is a victory for Delawareans across our state. We came together and voted to follow the science. We voted to listen to the experts. We voted to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe,” he said in a statement last Tuesday.

“Thank you for placing your trust in me to continue the job we started. 

“We will continue to confront COVID-19 and focus on the issues that matter to every Delaware family – good jobs, world-class schools and great communities.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long defeated Donyale Hall with 59.15%

A former state senator and representative, she received 59.4% four years ago. Lt. Gov. Hall-Long figures to be mentioned as a potential successor to Gov. Carney four years from now, although much could change in that time.

In the insurance commissioner’s race, incumbent Trinidad Navarro clinched a second term. Mr. Navarro, the former sheriff of New Castle County, pulled in 59.49 of the vote, topping Republican Julia Pillsbury.

He gained office after defeating the officeholder in a primary in 2016.

In total, 506,469 votes were cast with all but four precincts reporting late Tuesday, equivalent to 68.48% turnout. The record is 68.7% in 2008.

Democrats currently control all nine statewide offices.

“By every conceivable metric, Delaware made history today and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone who had a hand in it — from the committed voters who patiently stood in long lines to proudly cast their ballots to the awe-inspiring slate of candidates who inspired them to do so,” Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm said in a statement.

“While Democrats achieved sweeping victories up and down the ballot today, it’s the people of Delaware who truly stand to win. Because tonight’s results are more than a rejection of a dark and dystopian Republican Party; they signify a collective commitment to forge forward with big ideas that will improve lives.”