Hansen win preserves Dem. majority in Delaware Senate [video]

 Stephanie Hansen (left) reacts to results with State Rep. Valerie Longhurst in Odessa Saturday night. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Stephanie Hansen (left) reacts to results with State Rep. Valerie Longhurst in Odessa Saturday night. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Democrat Stephanie Hansen easily defeated Republican John Marino in Saturday’s special election for Delaware’s 10th Senate District.

It was a Delaware Senate race that drew rare national attention. But after raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and getting help on the campaign trail from former Vice President Joe Biden, Stephanie Hansen defeated John Marino with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Hansen called her win a team effort with more than 1,000 volunteers, 500 of which were out campaigning on Saturday. “You put in the time, you put in the shoe leather…We owe you a debt of gratitude,” Hansen said. “This is truly the will of the people, and I’m so proud and so humbled.”

One of those team members, the former VP, spoke to those gathered at the Odessa Fire Hall via speakerphone. “Great job, now let’s turn this into a national movement,” Biden said to big cheers.

Hansen said her campaign was about the issues and about turning away from the divisiveness coming out of Washington. “No more walls, no more divides, no more talk that is unkind and unfeeling and prejudicial,” Hansen said. “We need to start to come back together again and learn to work together and live together as a community.”

Delaware Governor John Carney was eager to join Saturday night’s celebration. Hansen’s win ensures the Democrats maintain control of the Senate. “I think people wanted to see more positive messages of hope as opposed to the negativity that we’re seeing out of Washington, D.C. right now,” Carney said. “That’s just not the Delaware way.”

First on the agenda for Hansen is working to help those battling addiction. “I really want to work on that addiction treatment center, that’s one of the top things I want to get on,” Hansen said. She also wants to find ways to support the Christina School District. “Glasgow High School has a big place in my heart and I’m excited about being able to help.

On the Republican side, legislative and party leaders said it was all about money. Delaware state GOP chairman Charlie Copeland said Democrats outspent the Marino campaign 5 to 1 or more than $100 per vote. “It shows what state the Democratic Party is in despite controlling everything.”

Copeland’s complaint over campaign spending stems from a Delaware Department of Elections ruling that allowed campaign ads by the First State Strong Political Action Committee. Copeland called it advocacy advertising. Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove ruled otherwise. Much of the campaign advertising in this race came from that group.

Marino came to meet his supporters a little after 9 p.m. He was greeted with cheers by the 100 or so supporters at the Metro Grill restaurant in Middletown. The former state police officer said he ran an issue oriented campaign.

He pointed to being outspent and, “having the vice president running around and knocking on doors” as factors in his defeat.  He didn’t rule out a future run for office. “You never say never.” But, he did say he hoped Democrats would work together with Republicans on issues of crime and the economy. He pointed to the heroin addiction epidemic as an issue he planned to stay involved with.

Among the Marino supporters were State Senators Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, and Gary Simpson, R-Milford. Lavelle blasted the Hansen campaign for the number of negative ads run. “It goes to show negative ads work.”

He added, “This was not a race between the Republicans and the Democrats in Delaware. This was a race between the Democrat National Committee and the Republican party in Delaware.”

Lavelle said as he campaigned in the district for Marino the message he heard was that the district was divided. He felt that division reflected the mood in the country.

Simpson pointed out the Senate is still split 11-10. “It’s certainly a lot better than we’ve ever had it in the past.”

He said Republicans are going to put together what he called “an initiative for better government.” Simpson said the goal is to come up with ways to make Delaware government more efficient.

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