Bonini wins GOP nod for governor; Hall-Long takes Dem contest for lt. gov.

 

GOP candidate for Governor of Delaware Colin Bonini going over results with John Fluharty. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

GOP candidate for Governor of Delaware Colin Bonini going over results with John Fluharty. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

WILMINGTON — Colin Bonini will have a chance to be the state’s first Republican governor in 24 years after winning the GOP primary Tuesday.

A state senator from the Dover area, he defeated newcomer Lacey Lafferty to claim the party’s nomination. Sen. Bonini, 51, took about 70 percent of the vote with 99 percent of districts reporting.

He will face Democrat John Carney, Libertarian Sean Goward and Green Andrew Groff Nov. 8.

A conservative, Sen. Bonini is basing his campaign on a platform of reducing the government’s size and budget. He has served in the Senate from the 16th District since 1994.

Ms. Lafferty had been critical of Sen. Bonini and painted herself as an outsider who would reform state government.

Sen. Bonini outraised Ms. Lafferty $107,000 to $12,000 in donations since the start of 2015. He loaned himself $60,000, while she issued loans totaling $88,000 to herself. Speaking briefly Tuesday night with all but the final district results in, Sen. Bonini said he believes Delawareans are tired of the status quo and want better results in the economy, the education system and criminal justice, areas he plans to emphasize over the upcoming months.

“I think we are running a change campaign,” he said.

He said he felt the campaign gaining momentum in the days before the primary.

In a statement, Delaware GOP Chairman Charlie Copeland touted the party’s chances in November.

“It’s pretty clear if you ask me. Voters are going to have a clear choice between more of the same ‘progressive’ politics that have delivered high taxes and failing cities versus real change in state government,” he said.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Bethany Hall-Long topped five other candidates to win the Democratic nomination.

Sen. Bethany Hall-Long

Sen. Bethany Hall-Long

A state senator who has served in the legislature for 14 years, where she specialized in health care, she has pointed to her experience helping pass laws as evidence of her qualifications. She pulled in endorsements from major unions and elected officials ahead of the primary.

Sen. Hall-Long, 52, gained 29 percent of the vote. Sherry Dorsey Walker was second with 22 percent.

Sen. Hall-Long and Kathy McGuiness far outraised everyone else, surpassing a quarter of a million dollars each, while no one else broke $121,000 in contributions.

Republican La Mar Gunn is the only other person on the ballot for the office in the general election.

In the Democratic primary for insurance commissioner, Trinidad Navarro upended Karen Weldin Stewart, who was going for a third straight term.

Trinidad Navarro

His opponent will be Jeff Cragg, who also won an election Tuesday.

Mr. Navarro, the sheriff of New Castle County, defeated Ms. Weldin Stewart 55 to 45 percent, while Mr. Cragg earned a narrow victory over George Parish, with 52 percent of the vote.

“It goes to show what hard work determination and teamwork can do here in Delaware,” Mr. Navarro said around 9:30. “I am truly blessed.”

Mr. Cragg, who has worked in the insurance industry for more than 20 years, said he plans to argue he is more qualified than his Democratic opponent.

“We’re going to unite the party and we’re going to run for what is now an open seat,” he said.

Ms. Weldin Stewart had a financial edge of $133,000 to $69,000 over Mr. Navarro, but it did not help her Tuesday.

With Democrats holding a 319,000 to 188,000 edge over Republicans in voter registration, the Democratic winners figure to be favored in November.

About 20 percent of voters cast ballots Tuesday, surpassing 2014’s numbers, when 7 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans came out to vote.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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