Delaware governor’s race pits friend against friend



Colin Bonini easily won the Republican primary Tuesday night, setting up a general election campaign against his friend, Democrat John Carney.

For the eight years John Carney served as Lt. Governor, one of his few constitutional responsibilities was to preside over the Delaware Senate. That time created close relationships with many members of the state Senate, especially with Republican Senator Colin Bonini. 

“He is a friend,” Carney said. “I enjoy his company.” Even though Bonini comes from the conservative side of the Republican party, Carney said he’s a different kind of conservative: “A conservative who’s not mad at people.”

And the friendship is mutual. “I do like John, and he is a friend, and he is a good guy,” Bonini said. “I do think he’d be a competent manager of the government … but I think Delaware needs to change course.”

But now, the two will face each other in the campaign to be Delaware’s next governor. It’s a contest that will expose obvious differences between these two friends when it comes to how Delaware should be governed for the next four years.

“I do expect we’ll have lively debates about the issues that are important to our state,” Carney said. “Fundamentally, this election for governor is going to be about who is best prepared to lead our state.”

“I think John is more of the same,” Bonini said. “He’s from that same [Democratic] team that’s led the governor’s office for, at this point, 24 years.”

Delaware’s current Governor, Democrat Jack Markell, is at the end of his term-limited eight years in office. He’s pledged to do whatever John Carney asks of him to ensure a win. “He’s got a strong vision for the state, so I’m a big, big, big John Carney supporter,” Markell said.

It’s an interesting relationship for Carney and Markell, especially considering Markell surprised many observers when he defeated Carney in the 2008 Democratic primary for governor. But eight years later, Markell is certainly all in for Carney. “We are on the right track. There’s certainly still a lot of work to do, and I have a lot of confidence that when John Carney is governor, the state is going to continue to build on that progress,” Markell said.

And while Bonini might not go negative against his friend John Carney, leader of the Delaware GOP Charlie Copeland already has. “[Carney] is probably competing with Hillary Clinton in the amount of time it takes him to have press events,” Copeland said. “[Carney] thinks he can just email it in … He’s avoided campaigning, he’s avoided frankly embracing the voters of this state to say what he’s going to do to fix the mess that we’re in.”

In response to those comments, Carney said he has been actively meeting with voters to hear their concerns. “I’ve been listening to voters,” Carney said. “That’s an important part of a campaign: listening, traveling around the state and hearing directly from people.”

Delaware voters will pick their next governor on November 8.

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