Crowded primary ballot will greet voters on Tuesday

Delaware Vote logoDOVER — Registered Democrats will be busy Tuesday when they go to the polls.

On the ballot in the state’s primary election on Tuesday are candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the U.S. House, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner, with crowded races for Congress and the lieutenant governor’s office.

On the Republican side, the governor’s race is contested, as is the insurance commissioner’s.

Locally, two state Senate districts, seven state House districts and some council seats are on the ballot for certain areas.

Exactly who you’ll be able to vote for depends on your political affiliation and location. Only Democrats and Republicans can vote in the primary, and they can only back candidates of their own party.

Candidates for governor, Congress, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner are on the ballot, although only insurance commissioner features primary races on both the left and the right.

State Sen. Colin Bonini and newcomer Lacey Lafferty are competing to win the Republican nod for governor. Sen. Bonini earned the support of the state GOP convention in April and has pulled in more donations than his opponent.

Both support fewer regulations, the death penalty and decentralization of the state’s education system and are generally in favor of smaller government.

The winner will face Democrat John Carney, Libertarian Sean Goward and Green candidate Andrew Groff in November.

U.S. House of Representatives

Seeking to replace the outgoing officeholder, Rep. Carney, in the House of Representatives are six Democrats: state Sen. Bryan Townsend, former Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester, 2014 treasurer nominee Sean Barney, 2002 House nominee Mike Miller, Scott Walker and Elias Weir.

Sen. Townsend, Ms. Blunt Rochester and Mr. Barney have all pulled in more than half a million dollars. All three have been sending out mailers, and Ms. Blunt Rochester and Mr. Barney have been running TV ads to try and entice voters.

Sen. Townsend, Ms. Blunt Rochester and Mr. Barney have released detailed policy proposals dealing with Social Security, equal pay and gun control, among other issues.

Each of the three has sought to appeal to the left, while also pledging to work with Republicans to end gridlock.

Among the six candidates, only Mr. Walker opposes raising the minimum wage, although the others do not all agree as to the appropriate level.

Sen. Townsend has emphasized his background in the General Assembly, arguing his experience as an elected official makes him the only candidate with a track record. Ms. Blunt Rochester cites her work in the state and federal governments, as well as in the nonprofit sector. If she wins the primary and then the general election, she would be the first woman and the first African-American the state sends to Washington.

Mr. Barney has repeatedly pointed to his service in the Marines and touted his time as an adviser to Delaware’s governor and one of its U.S. senators.

Mr. Miller believes the state needs to elect someone from outside the political sphere, while Mr. Walker says he will be committed to combating discrimination and Mr. Weir paints himself as the type of newcomer Congress needs.

Sen. Townsend has been endorsed by the Delaware State Education Association, Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council, New Castle County Democratic Party executive committee and a host of Delaware legislators.

Ms. Blunt Rochester is backed by EMILY’s List, a handful of state lawmakers and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

Mr. Barney has the support of VoteVets, former Delaware Rep. Tom Evans — a Republican — and several current members of Congress, all of whom served in the military.

The Barney campaign has been criticized by Sen. Townsend and Ms. Blunt Rochester, who allege he is embellishing his record and making false statements about them. Mr. Barney has denied the claims.

In addition to the winner of the primary, Republican Hans Reigle, Libertarian Scott Gesty and Green candidate Mark Perri are on the ballot for Nov. 8.

Other statewide offices

In the lieutenant governor’s race, state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, New Castle County Register of Wills Ciro Poppiti, Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Kathy McGuiness, Wilmington Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker, Levy Court Commissioner Brad Eaby and former Sussex County Register of Wills Greg Fuller meet in a crowded Democratic primary.

Sen. Hall-Long and Ms. McGuiness have each surpassed $250,000 in fundraising, leaving them well ahead of the other four.

Like Sen. Townsend, Sen. Hall-Long has scored endorsements from the Delaware State Education Association, Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council, New Castle County Democratic Party Executive Committee and fellow lawmakers. Ms. McGuiness is backed by state House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf and Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, as well as former California Congressman and current Rehoboth Beach resident Tony Coelho.

State Sen. Brian Bushweller and Rep. Sean Lynn are supporting Mr. Eaby, and Ms. Dorsey Walker has earned support from state Sens. Margaret Rose Henry and Karen Peterson. All six have been backed by local activists.

In the fourth statewide primary, incumbent Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart will try to hold off New Castle County Sheriff Trinidad Navarro to win the Democratic nod. She squeaked through a four-way primary in 2012 but will have just one opponent to worry about this time.

On the Republican side, former Sussex County Clerk of the Peace George Parish and 2012 gubernatorial nominee Jeff Cragg meet.

With Democrats holding a heavy registration edge in the First State, the winners of the congressional, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner primaries will be favored.

Primaries typically see much worse turnout than general elections. In 2008, the last time the governor’s seat was open, 28 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans voted. That year, then-Lt. Gov. Carney and Gov. Jack Markell, then the treasurer, squared off in a contentious battle.

Local level

In Kent, Bob Scott, Charles Postles and Morgan Hudson are competing for the Republican Party’s nomination for the open 33rd Representative District seat.

Sussex hosts two legislative primaries: Rep. Schwartzkopf and fellow Democrat Don Peterson in the 14th Representative District and two Republicans, Rep. David Wilson and Bob Mitchell, in the 35th Representative District.

Kent also features Levy Court Commissioner Allan Angel being challenged by Keith Mumford in a Democratic primary, while Sussex has two Republican county council contests. Councilman Sam Wilson and Lisa Hudson Briggs face off in the Second District, and the Third District hosts a primary between Kevin Burdette, I.G. Burton, Mark Schaeffer and Frank Shade.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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