Carper wins 4th term in U.S. Senate

WILMINGTON — Democrat Tom Carper defeated Republican Rob Arlett and two minor-party challengers Tuesday to win a fourth term in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Carper, 71, stretched his electoral record to 14-0, racking up 59.9 percent of the vote with all but one district reporting results. Coupled with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s victory, the outcome means the First State will have an all-Democratic congressional delegation for at least two more years.

Mr. Arlett, the Republican nominee, picked up 37.8 percent. He won a September primary by a wide margin but could not attract voters from outside his base in the general election.

“This is my 14th statewide election,” Sen. Carper said in a brief interview shortly after 9. “I’m really blessed to be able to win them all, and every election night, I’ve been tired and just grateful that it’s over, and I am especially grateful that this one’s over and in the rear-view mirror. Usually about two days later, Returns Day, I am like over-the-moon joyful but right now I’m glad it’s over. I’m happy that my wife convinced me to run one more time.”

Major media outlets called the race literally minutes after the polls closed.

For perhaps the first time in his 42-year career, Sen. Carper had to overcome a tough primary challenge. Kerri Evelyn Harris sought to pull off a shocker by running to the left of the incumbent, calling for universal health care, a higher minimum wage and a more progressive tax structure.

The race generated significant national attention, but Ms. Harris was unable to bring down the man who’s held four different offices over his career and remains popular with Delawareans.

The primary did see Sen. Carper shift to the left on some issues, such as supporting a $15 minimum wage.

Sen. Tom Carper talks with a voter in Dover on Election Day.

Running against Mr. Arlett, he pledged to be a check on the White House and highlighted his opposition to many of the president’s nominations for leadership picks and environmental policies.

“My opponent seems to support Donald Trump’s plans to further sabotage your health care, add to the debt largely through tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and to ignore climate change despite very clear evidence it is happening and we’re contributing to it,” he said during an October debate. “My vision for American is a far different one.”

Mr. Arlett, an outgoing Sussex County councilman and the former Delaware campaign chairman for the Trump campaign, dredged up a decades-old slapping incident involving Sen. Carper and his then wife, seeking to use momentum from the #MeToo movement to motivate Delawareans to vote Sen. Carper out of office. The incumbent downplayed the allegations, saying it happened only once and the subject has been broached in multiple elections before.

Mr. Arlett had also made claims that Sen. Carper is out of touch, tossing up accusations he answers to corporations and big donors rather than the people of Delaware.

Clearly, Delawareans disagree.

Sen. Carper said voters see him as a “known commodity” and wanted to elect people who will work with other members of Congress to get things done. He’s been known for his bipartisan, compromised-based approach.

Mr. Arlett was the first member of his party to fall in a statewide race, but he said he was not discouraged.

“Nobody likes to lose,” he said from the GOP’s party at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. “But truth be told there were some winners tonight and there were some losers tonight, and I have to tell you it’s not always about winning and losing because ultimately it’s bigger than that.

“I hope people understand that. I hope you understand that in this very room because we’re not in charge of winning and losing, we’re in charge of doing our parts.

“The question is, ‘Did you do your part?’ I think many and all of you in this room did and that’s why you are here. You are here being participants and too many people did not participate. That’s why some of us lost tonight, because not enough people participated in the process and did not take ownership of the process.”

Sen. Carper outraised Mr. Arlett about $3.038 million to $174,000 this cycle.

Green Party Candidate Demitri Theodoropoulos earned 1.2 percent of the vote, while Libertarian Nadine Frost received 1.1.

 

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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