Carney finally reaches goal of governor

 

John Carney makes remarks at a statewide Democratic Party election gathering at the Wilmington Doubletree Hotel on Tuesday. (Special to Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

John Carney makes remarks at a statewide Democratic Party election gathering at the Wilmington Doubletree Hotel on Tuesday. (Special to Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

WILMINGTON — Eight years after a tight loss in a primary election left him questioning his next steps, John Carney has been elected governor.

The Democrat, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives the past six years, defeated Republican Colin Bonini, pulling in 58.3 percent of the votes, out of approximately 425,000 cast.

State Sen. Bonini garnered 39.2 percent, while Green Andrew Groff got 1.4 and Libertarian Sean Goward received 1.1 percent.

“To see all the people out here tonight, it’s just unbelievable,” Rep. Carney said Tuesday night, speaking at the Delaware Democratic Party’s election watch.

Elsewhere, Democrat Bethany Hall-Long defeated Republican La Mar Gunn in the race for lieutenant governor, and Democratic Trinidad Navarro topped Republican Jeff Cragg to become the state’s next insurance commissioner.

Rep. Carney, 60, will be the state’s fourth consecutive Democratic governor, dating back to 1993. Only Oregon and Washington have longer active streaks.

Rep. Carney was first elected to office in 2000, when he garnered 62 percent of the vote in a bid for lieutenant governor. He was re-elected four years later and in 2008, competed against then Treasurer Jack Markell in the Democratic primary for governor.

Gov. Markell won the bitter contest by 2.4 percent. Now in his final months of his second term, the term-limited governor fully endorsed Rep. Carney, who was viewed as a heavy favorite going into Tuesday.

Tuesday night, after the results were in, he introduced Rep. Carney to an enthusiastic crowd, saying he will become “one of Delaware’s greatest governors ever.”

Speaking to reporters later in the night, Rep. Carney said the win is his biggest of his six electoral victories.

He plans to confront rising health care costs, the dropout rate and jobs.

“We got a lot of really big challenges ahead but I look forward to it,” he said.

Sen. Bonini said his team “ran a very, very solid campaign against a very, very difficult opponent.”

“When this campaign started it was a coronation. I’ll tell you what, we took it from a coronation to an election and I’m very, very proud of that,” he said at the GOP’s gathering in Dover.

Rep. Carney has unveiled several policy proposals, with an economic platform is focused on revitalizing manufacturing, making Delaware’s economy more based on startups and entrepreneurs and streamlining regulations.

He is also in support of shifting power away from the Department of Education and to the individual districts, reforming bail and de-emphasizing police use of force.

Areas like right-to-work, criminal justice and state spending have divided the two main candidates, who generally took typical Democratic and Republican viewpoints.

Sen. Bonini distinguished himself with his support for marijuana and hardline conservative philosophy.

Rep. Carney won New Castle and Kent counties, with a margin of more than 2-to-1 in the state’s northernmost county.

He only entered the race former Attorney General Beau Biden, a popular Democrat, died in May 2015 of brain cancer.

Rep. Carney said he had to be convinced to run, and it took a phone call from Vice President Joe Biden to push him into the race.

In the lieutenant governor’s contest, state Sen. Hall-Long earned 59.4 percent of the vote.

Her victory creates a vacancy in the state Senate that will be filled in February or March in a special election.

Both her and Mr. Navarro won New Castle and Kent counties.

“Tonight, we’re really excited that the voters of Delaware recognized that the Democrat message — working families, solid economy, education matters, as well as making affordable heath care,” she said.

Mr. Gunn ran unsuccessfully for Kent County recorder of deeds in 2014, losing by two votes after several recounts. He brought the case the courts, making it up to the state Supreme Court before his claim was dismissed.

Asked about the results Tuesday night, he said he did not know why he lost.

“You’ll have to ask people that are a lot smarter than me for that answer,” he said. “If this is what people want, you have to be able to accept that this is what the majority of the people decided and you have to live with the results.

Mr. Navarro, who beat incumbent Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin-Stewart in a September primary, picked up about 59.3 percent of the vote.

“What a great day to be a Democrat,” said Mr. Navarro, who has been the sheriff of New Castle County for the past six years.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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