Delaware Congressman John Carney running for governor

(WHYY/FILE)

(WHYY/FILE)

Carney will make another run at the governor’s office after three terms in Congress.

It was the question no one wanted to ask or answer. Beau Biden had announced plans to run for governor next year. Following his death in May, there was whispered speculation about who would run in his stead, but not many would openly discuss potential replacements on the Democratic ticket.

Now, nearly four month since Biden’s death, John Carney has announced his run.

“I had intended to support Beau Biden as our state’s next governor and continue my work in Congress,” Carney said in a statement. “Beau knew there are big challenges facing our state — and he would have been the man to meet them. Like so many across our state, I wish he’d had that chance.”

Carney said he made his decision to run after much reflection and conversations with family. “I’ve decided to ask the people of Delaware to give me the chance to tackle these challenges as our state’s next governor.” He also talked it over with Vice President Joe Biden. “It was just important to have that heart to heart with the Vice President, to tell him how I felt about the situation, tell him how I felt about Beau. He was just amazing. He was encouraging me to do it.”

After serving eight years as lieutenant governor under Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, Carney narrowly lost his bid for governor in the 2008 Democratic primary to Gov. Jack Markell by less than 2,000 votes. At the time, Carney had the backing of the Democratic party and was seen as the heir apparent to the governor’s office.

Now, nearly eight years later, Carney has his eyes set on the governor’s office once again. “A season after Beau’s passing, we’re confronted with the fact that those same challenges Beau was ready to face still loom large along our state’s horizon. And someone has to step up to meet them.”

Carney is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Represenatives. He said his time there has taught him much about what it takes to govern effectively. “I’ve learned that you don’t get anything done by fighting, or demonizing your opponents. I’ve learned that Delawareans want their public officials to be honest and straightforward.” 

Carney doesn’t plan to start actively campaigning until next year, but his announcement starts the ball rolling. “There will be plenty of time for that as we get closer to the election, and there’s too much important work to do in Congress right now.”

It’s not clear if Carney will face another Democratic primary in 2016. Republican State Senator Colin Bonini and retired state trooper Lacey Lafferty have both announced their intentions to run on the GOP side.

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