What you need to know about the Delaware governor's race
Gov. John Carney is vying for a second term to lead Delaware amid the coronavirus pandemic that has riled the state, shut down businesses and taken the lives of hundreds of Delawareans.
Carney handily won his first term in 2016 in the Democratic-held state, eight years after losing a tight primary contest to former Gov. Jack Markell.
This election year, a half a dozen Republicans are seeking a chance to challenge Carney and are banking on voters tiring of Carney's monthslong state of emergency restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
Democrats voting in Delaware's Sept. 15 primary will have only one other choice for governor. David Lamar Williams, a 54-year-old accountant from Camden-Wyoming, is the only Democrat challenging Carney.
Williams, who works at a nonprofit helping people with disabilities called KenCrest in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, wants to implement a four-day workweek across the state, attract businesses in the tech industry and legalize recreational marijuana.
"People are smoking it already," Williams said in a July interview with Delaware Online/The News Journal. He argued that legalization would help eliminate the black market.
Carney, a moderate and former congressman and lieutenant governor, began this year with promises to further invest in schools, practice fiscal prudence and clean up litter across the state. But since the coronavirus pandemic, his platform has morphed into promises to listen to science and public health officials when making decisions on reopening the state and doling out services such as free testing.
If reelected, Carney also has pledged to continue reforms to address issues of racial justice and build on an infrastructure program to fix roads and bridges and creating jobs.
The Republicans running for his seat have attacked the incumbent over his handling of the pandemic, particularly related to how closures have hurt businesses.
The Republican field includes:
- Julianne Murray, a 50-year-old attorney in Georgetown who is representing her husband in a lawsuit against Carney over his coronavirus restrictions.
- Colin Bonini, a 55-year-old Dover senator who ran for governor in 2016 and lost to Carney with about 39% of the vote.
- Bryant Richardson, a 73-year-old Seaford senator who has led multiple, failed attempts to restrict abortions in the state.
- Dave Graham, a 66-year-old tax auditor from Smyrna who has run several unsuccessful campaigns for statewide office since 2004.
- David Bosco, a 48-year-old airsoft sports complex owner in Greenwood.
- Scott Walker, 69 of Wilmington, who failed to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester in 2018.
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In mid-July, Murray won the Delaware GOP's endorsement for governor after three of her primary opponents, including Bonini, chose not to participate in the event. She has also been endorsed by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Murray is one of several who has marketed herself as a political outsider versus the two senators in the race.
She's up against two other candidates who won statewide primaries in the past two elections and lost to Democrats in the general.
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One of them is Bonini, who is targeting the Black vote with a yet-to-be-released plan on helping the African American population in Delaware. He opposes defunding the police but said there are "core issues" in other areas such as education that he can help fix. It's unclear whether he will prove as popular as he was when winning the 2016 primary with only one opponent.
Walker, who is banking on the help of his handmade campaign signs that he's erected across the state, shocked Delaware's political insiders by winning the 2018 statewide Republican primary for Congress with little money or political prowess.
Walker has sought office both as a Democrat and Republican and has been condemned by both parties for incendiary social media posts that have sometimes been direct and explicit insults to either his opponent or others in the political sphere.
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The governor's race isn't the only statewide office where voters will have their choice of candidates this fall. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat, is facing challengers from both parties. Two Republicans are also seeking to unseat Democrat U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. Several Statehouse seats also have primaries, along with county and Wilmington governments.
How to vote
Delaware's primary will be the second election where all registered Democrats and Republicans will have the option of voting from home in case they feel uncomfortable going to the polls due to the pandemic.
Only Democrats and Republicans can vote in the Sept. 15 primary, and they can vote only for members in their own party.
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The state has mailed applications for mail-in ballots to registered Democrats and Republicans for this election. Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence is urging Delawareans who are voting in the 2020 elections to return their mail-in ballots as soon as possible.
The state plans on keeping all of its polling places open for those who are comfortable voting in-person.
More information can be found at the Elections Department's website: https://ivote.de.gov.
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Voters can also return their ballot via fax or email. If they're anxious about their ballot getting to the Elections Department in time via the post office, they can also drop off their ballot at the elections office in the county where they live. Each office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sussex County Department of Elections Office
119 N. Race St.
P.O. Box 457
Georgetown, DE 19947
Kent County Department of Elections Office
100 Enterprise Place
Dover, DE 19904
New Castle County Department of Elections Office
Carvel State Office Building
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE 19801
*A drop box is also available in the lobby of the building, which is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New Castle County Warehouse and Training Center
220 Lisa Drive
New Castle, DE 19720
*The drop box is located at the south (far) end of the building.
Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.