Ex-labor official seeks seat in Congress

DOVER — Former Delaware Secretary of Labor and Personnel Director Lisa Blunt Rochester announced her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday, joining an already crowded field.

A Wilmington Democrat, she instantly poses a challenge to already declared candidates due to the potential for vote splitting and support from Wilmington residents.

She will be competing against State Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, state Rep. Bryon Short, D-Arden, and former candidate Mike Miller in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, former Wyoming mayor Hans Reigle and perennial candidate Rose Izzo are seeking the position.

Lisa Blunt Rochester, candidate for U.S. House (submitted) by .

Lisa Blunt Rochester, candidate for U.S. House (submitted)

“We need to change Congress. And if we want to change Congress, we need to send a different kind of leader,” Ms. Blunt Rochester said in a statement. “I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I’ve never run for office before. My career has been spent solving problems — from being a voice for working Delawareans as Delaware’s secretary of labor to serving as the lead human-resources professional for one of Delaware’s largest employers (the state government) to helping seniors get their Social Security benefits as a caseworker.”

She had acknowledged last week she was considering a campaign.

The U.S. House seat is open for just the second time in 23 years, as Rep. John Carney, D-Del., is running for governor.

Ms. Blunt Rochester was secretary of labor from 1998 to 2001 under Gov. Tom Carper and state personnel director from 2001 to 2004 in the cabinet of Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

As state personnel director, she was tasked with examining the Delaware State Police for alleged sexual and racial discrimination and produced a report providing guidelines on how the police could improve internal and external relations.

If elected, she would be both the first woman and the first African-American to represent Delaware in Congress.

With more than 10 months until the primary, there is still the potential for other candidates to enter the field, further shaking things up.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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