DOVER, Del. (AP) — This year’s general election in Delaware is like none ever seen in the state before. Tens of thousands of Delawareans have taken advantage of a universal voting-by-mail law authorized under emergency powers invoked by the Democrat-controlled legislature because of the coronavirus. Also for the first time, Delaware’s own Joe Biden is the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the Nov. 3 election in Delaware:
Biden and Republican President Donald Trump are vying for Delaware’s three electoral votes in a state where Democrats enjoy a huge advantage in voter registration numbers over Republicans. Biden spent considerable time this year campaigning virtually while holed up at his home in Greenville because of the coronavirus. Trump never visited the state. In 2016, Trump did hold a campaign rally in Delaware but lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 50,000 votes. Biden is finally on the general election presidential ballot in Delaware after ill-fated attempts to win his party’s nomination in the 1988 and 2008 campaigns.
Democrats hold all three seats in Delaware’s congressional delegation and are seeking to fend off Republican challengers to U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. Coons has held office since 2010 and is being challenged by conservative activist and political newcomer Lauren Witzke. Witzke has campaigned on an “America First” platform that includes a 10-year moratorium on immigration. But her campaign positions often have been overshadowed by remarks that have drawn criticism from both Democrats and fellow Republicans. They included online posts celebrating the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and defending the neo-fascist Proud Boys. Blunt Rochester is the first woman and first person of color to represent Delaware in Congress. She is being challenged by Republican Lee Murphy, a part-time actor and retired Amtrak conductor who lost a GOP primary for Delaware’s lone House seat two years ago.
Democrat John Carney is seeking a second term as Delaware’s governor, but Republicans are hoping to attract enough independent voters and disaffected Democrats to unseat him. Carney’s Republican challenger, attorney Julianne Murray, has said this year’s election is partly a referendum on Carney’s handling of the coronavirus. Business closures and restrictions that he ordered in response to the virus outbreak resulted in thousands of Delawareans losing their jobs and filing unemployment claims in record-shattering numbers. Businesses and residents still face restrictions, and most school students are still stuck at home with virtual learning. Murray has said she would end the state of emergency that Carney declared in March.
Democrats are going into Tuesday’s election with a 12-9 advantage in the state Senate and a 26-15 margin in the state House. They have made a concerted push to flip Senate seats held by potentially vulnerable Republican incumbents and strengthen their Senate majority to the point where they would no longer require GOP support to reach the required supermajorities to pass tax bills and certain other measures. No matter what happens Tuesday, the legislature is sure to have at least a few new faces given that progressive newcomers unseated three long-serving incumbents, including the state Senate president, in the September Democratic primary. Democratic candidate Sarah McBride is expected to become the first openly transgender person elected to a state Senate anywhere in the country.
TIME TO VOTE
Polls in Delaware are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.