Democrat Carper wins 4th term for Delaware US Senate seat

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware won a fourth term in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday as Democrats swept statewide races in heavily blue Delaware.

Carper’s victory over Republican Rob Arlett, a Sussex County councilman who was Donald Trump’s state campaign chair in 2016, keeps his unbeaten streak in politics intact. He has never lost an election during more than four decades in politics, starting with his election as state treasurer in 1976.

Carper’s re-election Tuesday comes after he trounced a progressive challenger in a September Democratic primary, stemming an antiestablishment tide hoping to move the Democratic party to the left.

“I’m deeply grateful for the people of Delaware who have chosen me as their senator for a while longer,” Carper said.

Carper, 71, has staked out a position in Washington as a centrist lawmaker with a strong interest in environmental issues. During the campaign, he touted his experience and his ability to work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, despite being a vocal Trump critic.

Carper has said this year’s election was about upholding the government’s system of checks and balances and ensuring Trump does not end up with almost endless powers.

“President Trump is an extreme president,” Carper said after a debate last month, adding that Trump has none of the qualities that make a good leader.

Carper sounded a more conciliatory tone Tuesday night, saying he hopes to find common ground with Republicans on issues such as protecting the environment and improving the nation’s infrastructure, but that he won’t pull punches when there are disagreements.

“I think there’s a hunger to try to find common ground,” he said. “We’re going to look for ways to work together. When we differ, we’ll fight it out.”

The Senate campaign took a nasty turn at a debate last month when Arlett called out Carper for a domestic incident in the early 1980s during which Carper slapped his first wife, Diane, who died in 2013. Carper angrily complained that Arlett and other political opponents have routinely dredged up the incident over the past several decades to try to create “political mischief” for him.

Carper served five terms in the U.S. House and two terms as governor before being elected to the Senate in 2000.

In Delaware’s other congressional race, Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester easily defeated Republican Scott Walker, who ran as a Democrat in a 2106 congressional primary that Rochester easily won.

“This election was for the soul of our country,” Rochester told a crowd of jubilant Democrats gathered in Wilmington.

On the state level, Democratic attorney general candidate Kathleen Jennings, who dominated fundraising and spending among all campaigns, defeated Bernard Pepukayi, another Democrat-turned-Republican, in the contest to succeed retiring Democrat Matt Denn.

The retirement of Republican Tom Wagner, meanwhile, gave Democrats a chance to regain the state auditor’s office for the first time since 1989, with Democrat Kathy McGuinness defeating Republican James Spadola.

Democrats also rode a blue wave of fervor against Trump to score an upset in the state treasurer’s race, with health care consultant Colleen Davis defeating incumbent Republican Ken Simpler, who had been seen as a potential GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2020.

Democrats also dashed Republican hopes of taking control of the state Senate for the first time since 1973. Democrats entered the election with a razor-thin, 11-10 advantage in the chamber. They held their contested seats, picked up an open one vacated by a Democrat, and upset GOP Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, a veteran lawmaker, to end the night with a 12-9 advantage.

Democrats also picked up a seat in the state House, defeating GOP Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, who was first elected in 1994 and was the longest-serving member of the House. Democrats now have a 26-15 advantage in the chamber.


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