Democrats Solidify Control Of Delaware Government

Attorney Lydia York, shown in this photograph taken July 22, 2016 in Wilmington Del., is the Democratic candidate for State Auditor. (The News Journal, via AP)
Attorney Lydia York, shown in this photograph taken July 22, 2016 in Wilmington Del., is the Democratic candidate for State Auditor. (The News Journal, via AP)
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DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware Democrats solidified their hold on state government Tuesday, winning all statewide races and picking up another seat in the state Senate.

Democrats went into the election already in control of both chambers of the General Assembly, the governor’s office, and all other statewide elective offices.

In the attorney general’s race, incumbent Democrat Kathleen Jennings defeated Republican challenger Julianne Murray to win a second four-year term as the state’s top law enforcement officer. Murray, a Georgetown lawyer, was making her second bid for public office, having lost the 2020 governor’s race to incumbent Gov. John Carney.

Although she lost the election, Murray recently bested Jennings in an election-related lawsuit when Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled that a new vote-by-mail law passed by Democrats this year violates the state constitution. The court also struck down a new same-day registration law that had been passed by Democrats.

The auditor’s race featured two political newcomers, with Democrat Lydia York defeating Republican Janice Lorrah. York, an attorney with an accounting background, won a Democratic primary in September against incumbent Kathy McGuiness.

York easily beat McGuiness in the primary. McGuiness was convicted in July on misdemeanor counts of conflict of interest and official misconduct related to the hiring of her daughter as a part-time employee in the auditor’s office.

Lorrah, who has a law degree, sued Gov. Carney in February after he extended a school mask mandate that had been imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after the start of a court hearing to determine whether a judge should issue a preliminary injunction, state officials announced that mask requirements would be terminated.

The other statewide race saw first-term incumbent treasurer Colleen Davis win re-election by defeating Republican challenger Greg Coverdale. Coverdale is a financial planner and former state school board member who lost a bid for a state House seat in 2014.

In other races, all 62 legislative seats, 21 in the Senate and 41 in the House, were on the ballot. Six Senate Democrats and six House Democrats were guaranteed re-election, however, because they had no opponents. On the Republican side, four incumbent senators and eight House members had no challengers.

In two closely watched state Senate races in New Castle County, Democratic incumbents Laura Sturgeon and Spiros Mantzavinos beat back Republican challengers after some late heavy spending on their re-election contests. Sturgeon reported spending just under $84,000 in a three-week period ending Nov. 1. Her Republican opponent, attorney Ted Kittila, spent just under $12,000. Mantzavinos reported spending more than $50,600, compared to about $15,200 spent by GOP opponent Sherm Porter.

Democrats also picked up a Senate seat in Sussex County that was left vacant by a GOP lawmaker’s retirement, and maintaining their hold on an open seat in central Delaware. That gives them a 15-6 advantage in the chamber. Democrats, who went into the election with a 26-15 advantage in the House, lost an open House seat in New Castle County but picked up a vacant seat in Sussex that had been held by Republicans. Meanwhile, a razor-thin lead by incumbent Republican Michael Ramone over Democratic challenger Frank Burns in the 21 District in New Castle County made that race too early to call and could lead to a recount.