By John Celock
Delaware is on track to have its fourth Democratic governor in a row, according to a new poll.
A University of Delaware poll released Tuesday shows Democratic nominee U.S. Rep. John Carney easily defeating Republican nominee state Sen. Colin Bonini 57 percent to 32 percent for the governor’s mansion. The poll also showed that Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester leads Republican Hans Reigle 46 percent to 26 percent in the race to succeed Carney in Delaware’s sole congressional seat. Two-term Gov. Jack Markell (D) is term limited.
A Carney victory would give Democrats their seventh consecutive win for Delaware’s governorship. No Republican has been elected governor since Mike Castle won his second term in 1988. Castle is also the state’s last Republican congressman, having been elected to Congress 1992, serving until he left to unsuccessfully seek a Senate seat in 2010.
Carney’s lead in the gubernatorial race comes eight years after many Delaware’s Democrats expected him to move into the governor’s mansion. Carney, then a two-term lieutenant governor, had sought the Democratic nomination to succeed Gov. Ruth Ann Miner (D) in 2008, losing to Markell, then the state treasurer, in a race where establishment Democrats rallied behind Carney. Carney came back to win the congressional seat in 2010.
Carney’s likely win for governor comes after the race to succeed Markell took several dramatic turns since 2014. Democrat Matt Denn, a second term lieutenant governor, and the late Beau Biden, then a second term attorney general, had been considered the frontrunners in the 2016 race. After Biden announced in 2014 that he would not seek a third term in the attorney general’s office in 2014 to concentrate on the gubernatorial race, Denn announced he would run for attorney general that year and not governor in 2016. After Biden’s 2015 death, Carney became the instant Democratic frontrunner, with Denn opting to stay in his new post as the state’s top prosecutor.
The reshuffling in the gubernatorial race, opened up a competitive race for the congressional seat, in one of the more open fields Delaware had seen for the job in decades. Blunt Rochester, a former state labor secretary, defeated several opponents in the Democratic primary to position herself as likely the first woman and first African American to represent Delaware in Washington.
The poll did not include results in the races for lieutenant governor or state insurance commissioner.
Currently only two Republicans, Treasurer Ken Simpler and Auditor Tom Wagner hold statewide office in Delaware.