It’s been a long time coming for Delaware Governor-elect John Carney. He finally secured a win in this race he first started running eight years ago.
Carney finished his victory speech and celebrated with balloons, confetti and big cheers from a crowd of Democratic supporters at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Wilmington. In his speech, he reflected on the challenges facing the state and how he planned to tackle them.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming,” Carney said to reporters following his speech. “I didn’t expect to run for governor again, frankly after losing the very close primary to Governor Markell in 2008.” After that surprising loss in ’08, Carney ran successfully for Delaware’s U.S. House seat, where he’s been since. “I was enjoying my work down there, difficult and challenging.”
This election night was supposed to be Beau Biden’s night. The son of Vice President Joe Biden had announced plans to run for governor before his death in 2015. Carney reflected on that fact Tuesday night. “For me, it really kind of raised the bar that you don’t get a second chance in life often and to really put everything I had into this and recognize the real challenges that we face.”
Those challenges include a projected state budget deficit amid rising health care costs and the challenge of improving both employment opportunities and education in Delaware. “Delaware has to reinvent itself from a state that relied on big companies like DuPont where we had 30-40,000 employees at one time to an economy based more on small business and entrepreneurship,” Carney said. “Our message was that we’re going to lead our state through that transition. We’ve got to be competing at the top of our game every day.”
Carney topped Republican State Sen. Colin Bonini with 58 percent of the vote to Bonini’s 39 percent. Bonini agreed Delaware faces tough challenges. “I want to help John,” Bonini said. “I hope that’s a refreshing message for Washington. I want to help John solve those problems.” He said Delaware needs to make some “out of the box” decisions. “I actually think that my ability to sort of frame issues in a very strong language can be helpful, and quite frankly I think part of what we face here in Delaware is that our political culture is too insolent.”