Delaware Democratic primaries could foreshadow November results

DOVER — Lisa Blunt Rochester will win the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. House.

The win puts her in a position to possibly become the first woman and first minority to represent Delaware in the U.S. House of Representatives. With 87 percent of districts reporting Tuesday night, Blunt Rochester had 43 percent of the vote.

Results of some of Tuesday’s primary elections in Delaware could determine who takes office in January, notwithstanding November’s general election.

With Democrats far outnumbering Republicans in Delaware, winners of Democratic primaries for U.S. House and lieutenant governor, as well as lesser races, will have the numbers stacked in their favor as they head into November.

“Pray for me,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Lacey Lafferty told the Rev. Franklin Graham as he wrapped up an Election Day prayer rally outside Legislative Hall.

Lafferty lost to longtime state senator Colin Bonini in the GOP primary Tuesday.

Turnout in primary elections is typically light compared to general elections, although an eight-way Democratic primary for Wilmington mayor was expected to drive turnout in New Castle County, the state’s most populous.

“It’s what’s on the ballot that drives the turnout,” said state elections commission Elaine Manlove. “I think the city of Wilmington is probably going to be busy because they have everybody running for mayor and a lot of city council seats.”

As of midday Tuesday, about 14, 000 people had voted in New Castle County, compared to 7,000 in Sussex County and 4,300 in Kent County, according to Manlove.

Manlove said there were no major problems at polling places.

Parking lots at some voting precincts were crowded, but that didn’t necessarily translate into long lines at the polls.

Under a bill passed by lawmakers in 2014, school districts in Delaware are required to schedule in-service days for teachers for the day of any primary election in which district schools will be used as polling places. The result was that some voters found parking spots hard to come by.

There were also reports of problems with a couple of voting machines in New Castle County.

Meanwhile, Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, urged Christians to vote Tuesday, saying their voices need to be heard.

“The moral and political walls of our nation are crumbling,” Graham told thousands of people gathered in Dover during a stop on his 50-state Decision America Tour.

Decrying abortion, same-sex marriage and political correctness, Graham told the faithful he has “zero hope” in the Democratic and Republican parties, and that the only hope for the nation is “Almighty God.”

While not urging his listeners to vote for any particular candidate or party, Graham urged them to study the issues, pray, and cast their votes, even if they have to hold their noses. He also urged Christians to get involved in politics at all levels and to run for public office.

Meanwhile, six Democrats were vying to replace fellow Democrat John Carney Jr. as Delaware’s sole representative in the U.S. House. Carney opted to run for governor after former Attorney General Beau Biden died last year after having announced his intentions to run for governor.

The top tier of candidates vying for Carney’s seat features state Sen. Bryan Townsend, former state Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Sean Barney, a former aide to Sen. Tom Carper and Gov. Jack Markell who ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 2014.

Rounding out the field are businessmen Mike Miller and Scott Walker, and Elias Weir, a recent transplant from New York, where he ran unsuccessfully for state Senate.

The winner takes on Republican Hans Reigle in November.

Meanwhile, Republicans were choosing Tuesday between Lafferty, a retired state trooper from Sussex County, and state Sen. Colin Bonini of Dover in a GOP gubernatorial primary, with the winner taking on Carney.

Like the congressional primary, the Democratic contest for lieutenant governor also has drawn half a dozen candidates, including state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, New Castle County Register of Wills Ciro Poppiti III, and Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Kathy McGuiness. Also in the race are Wilmington Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker, Kent County Commissioner Brad Eaby, and former Sussex County Register of Wills Greg Fuller.

The winner faces Republican La Mar Gunn in November.

Other contests to be decided Tuesday include Republican and Democratic primaries for insurance commissioner, General Assembly and New Castle County executive.

Polls were open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Randall Chase writes for the Associated Press

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