Rochester makes Delaware history as congresswoman

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Lisa Blunt Rochester, left, and Bethany Hall-Long celebrate wins for the Democratic Party Tuesday night in Wilmington. Photo by Doug Curran/Special to the Delaware State News

WILMINGTON — Lisa Blunt Rochester will become Delaware’s first woman and first African-American to represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Taking 55.5 percent of the vote overall and winning only New Castle, Ms. Rochester defeated former Wyoming mayor and military veteran Hans Reigle, a Republican.
For the first time in more than 120 years, Delaware elected a Democrat to succeed another Democrat in the U.S. House.
Ms. Blunt Rochester, 54, replaces Rep. John Carney, who won the gubernatorial election.
“What I vow is that I will go to Washington to fight for you,” she said, beaming as she spoke to Democrats packed into a ballroom at the Wilmington DoubleTree hotel.
Mr. Reigle had 41 percent of the votes, Green Mark Perri had 2 percent and Libertarian Scott Gesty pulled in 1.6 percent.
Ms. Blunt Rochester, the former secretary of labor and state personnel director, won a six-way Democratic primary in September. This was her first bid for elected office.
She campaigned on the strength of her experience working for the state, her plan to bolster the state’s economy and create jobs and a message of positivity.
A supporter traditional cornerstones of the Democratic Party platform, such as protecting the Affordable Care Act, strengthening social security and raising the minimum wage, she re-affirmed those beliefs Tuesday in her victory speech.
A Wilmington resident, Ms. Blunt Rochester won New Castle County. Mr. Reigle, who lives in Wyoming, won Kent and Sussex, but it was not enough to overcome New Castle, which contains about 60 percent of the state’s population.
Sen. Chris Coons expressed excitement about working with his new colleague.
“Frankly, Lisa’s someone who brings a lot to the table,” he said. “International experience, domestic experience, service in two different governors’ cabinets, work in the private sector, work in the nonprofit sector, public sector, I think Lisa’s going to be a fantastic congresswoman, and I’m really excited to serve with her.”
While Washington has faced serious gridlock in recent years, Ms. Blunt Rochester believes progress can be made.
“There are lot of new members that are coming to D.C., and I think a lot of them are like me,” she told reporters. “We want to see people work together and so I think part of that is the American people and how they voted. They are the ones that are making those votes, like for a person like me that’s never run for office before and saying, ‘You know what, we want you to go and work together,’ so that’s my plan.”
In Dover at the GOP’s event, Mr. Reigle said his team worked hard and “just hit that blue wall in New Castle County.”
Speaking as the presidential results were trickling in, Ms. Blunt Rochester said she was prepared to work with either president.
“I am ready to represent you because when Lisa goes to Washington we all go to Washington!” she said the crowd of enthusiastic Delawareans,
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney contributed to this story.

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