Senator Richardson to run for governor

State Senators Dave Wilson, left, and Bryant Richardson attend Saturday’s rally for religious freedom in Dover. (Submitted photo/Dave Graham)

SEAFORD — With a religious freedom rally last Saturday in Dover as a backdrop, state Sen. Bryant Richardson announced his gubernatorial candidacy, saying Delaware needs a changing of the guard in November. The Seaford Republican wants to deny Democratic incumbent John Carney a second term as governor.

Sen. Richardson, who took down one of Delaware’s longtime legislative giants in Democrat Robert Venables in the 2014 election, currently represents the 21st Senatorial District. He said he feels Republicans, who are in the minority in the legislature and haven’t held the governor’s seat since 1992, cannot accomplish anything right now.

“I do have a strategy I have been developing,” said Sen. Richardson. “I didn’t really think about running for governor. But then when someone suggested I run, I thought about it and after a while I thought … well, one thing that can come out of this is the issues that I care most deeply about will be reported on. And they will be brought to the forefront. I’m in the race to go all the way to Nov. 3 and win there, too.”

Sen. Richardson has been highly critical of Gov. Carney’s COVID restrictions, particularly the two-month prohibition on large gatherings that made it impossible to hold normal religious services. He said he understands “there is a danger with the COVID-19” but some of the steps “are extreme, especially shutting down the churches.”

Delaware is currently in a “rolling” reopening of the businesses and other entities that have been closed since mid-March. Individuals are still required to social distance and wear face coverings in public.

“And you can see our liberties have been stripped, under the premise that there is an emergency. I agree with the emergency. I don’t agree with the governor going to the extremes he has with this,” Sen. Richardson said.

“Let us know what the dangers are. Let us react. Don’t shut down churches. Don’t shut down restaurants, but do things that are reasonable and let the people be educated as far as the risk — and then leave them alone. Let them go on with their lives.”

During his five-and-a-half years in the Senate, Sen. Richardson has proven to be one of the chamber’s most conservative members and has strongly pushed for abortion restrictions.

“The tenets of our free society are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness … or property rights. The very first one is life, and if we don’t respect life and we can’t trust the people in power with the first and most basic right, how can you trust them with anything else?” he said.

Sen. Richardson, who plans to formally file soon, will join several other candidates for governor, including Republican Neil Shea of Wilmington, Libertarian John Machurek of New Castle, Independent Party candidate Kathy DeMatteis of Newark and Gov. Carney. The primary election is Sept. 15, and the general contest is Nov. 3.

Sen. Richardson’s current Senate term runs to the 2022 election, meaning he will retain the seat should he be unsuccessful in his gubernatorial bid.

He won election to the state Senate in 2014, a banner year for Republicans, with 53 percent of the vote after falling short two years earlier. He previously sought Delaware’s seat for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, coming in third in the four-person GOP primary (then Gov. Mike Castle was the winner).

“I entered it because of my convictions for caring about unborn children,” Sen. Richardson said.

Outside state government, the 73-year-old is president of Morning Star Publications Inc., a multi-publication business he owns along with his wife, Carol.

Sen. Richardson’s legislative district encompasses the southwest corner of Sussex County; it includes Seaford, Blades, Laurel, Delmar and extends along Route 9 and Route 24 to areas west of Georgetown and Millsboro. He is a member of the Agriculture, Elections/Government & Community Affairs, Finance, Veterans Affairs and Joint Finance committees.

At Saturday’s rally in Dover, state Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, introduced Sen. Richardson, who was flanked by Republican Senate colleagues Dave Lawson and Dave Wilson.

“After I gave a little speech, Dave Lawson said, ‘Just want to let you know, that we have his back,” Sen. Richardson said.