Kathy Jennings coasted to victory in the Democratic primary for Delaware attorney general Thursday, triumphing over three other candidates for the chance to replace one-term incumbent Matt Denn.
Denn, a former Democrat lieutenant governor elected in 2014, is not seeking re-election.
Jennings is a former chief deputy attorney general and state prosecutor who has also done criminal defense work. She briefly served as top aide to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer until resigning in January to mount her for first run for elective office.
She won 56 percent of the vote, followed by Lakresha Roberts (21 percent), Chris Johnson (15 percent), and Tim Mullaney (6 percent). Jennings will face Republican Bernard Pepukayi in the Nov. 6 general election.
Jennings exuded cautious optimism 90 minutes before the polls closed while she greeted the handful of voters trickling into Lincoln Towers apartments in Wilmington’s Trolley Square neighborhood. She was joined by a couple of volunteers, including former Charles M. Oberly IV, Delaware’s former attorney general and U.S. Attorney.
“I talked to a lot of people who were voting today and I’m really pleased with the turnout. There seems to be a real sense of optimism among people who are coming in to vote who want change. They want Delaware to be a safer, fairer place to live.”
Jennings said she had not done exit polling Thursday. “We’ve just been all over the state, in each county, and to eight or nine polling places and we have more to do,” she said before heading off.
Two other statewide races had primaries Thursday.
The Republican contest for Delaware’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives took a surprising turn as Scott Walker took 53 percent of the vote to defeat Lee Murphy. Two years ago, Walker ran in the Democratic and got less than 5 percent of the vote in a six way contest won by now U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. Walker received 3,156 votes in 2016, compared to 19,572 this year. Walker will again face Blunt Rochester, this time in the general election.
In the Democratic primary for state auditor, Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Kathy McGuiness won a three-way race for the Democratic nomination. Current Republican auditor Tom Wagner has been in office for 29 years but decided not to seek office because of serious health issues that he said will require a kidney transplant.
McGuiness took 41 percent of the vote, defeating former chief administrative auditor Kathleen Davies (35 percent) and former state Rep. Dennis E. Williams (23 percent). McGuiness will face Republican James Spadola in November.
Turnout was well above for Delaware primaries. Democrats saw 25 percent of registered voters turn out to the polls Thursdays, with 20 percent of registered Republicans casting ballots. Four years ago, primary turnout was 7 percent for Democrats and 14 percent for Republicans.
In the 17 General Assembly primary races, where many candidates are not seeking re-election or are aiming for another office:
- Darius Brown won a four-way Democratic primary for the state Senate seat now held by Margaret Rose Henry, who did not seek re-election.
- Elizabeth Lockman defeated Jordan Hines in the Democratic primary for the 3rd Senate seat now held by Robert Marshall, who did not seek re-election.
- Justin King beat Donyale Hall in the Republican primary for the Dover-area Senate seat held by Democrat Brian Bushweller, who is not seeking re-election. State Rep. Trey Paradee is the Democratic candidate. (Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story misidentified party affiliation for these candidates)
- City Councilman Nnamdi Chukwoucha defeated incumbent Democratic state Rep. Charles Potter of Wilmington.
- Democratic state Stephanie Bolden defeated Ugundi Jacobs Sr., who was arrested for an alleged break-in at his ex-lover’s house last weekend.
- Democratic Wilmington City Councilwoman Sherry Walker Dorsey won a three-candidate race over James Miller and Paul Falkowski for the state House seat held by Helene Keeley, who is not running.
- Democrat Kendra Johnson defeated Ajawavi Ajavon and Bill Resto for the Bear-area seat held by Democratic Rep. Melanie George Smith.
- Raymond Siegfried defeated four others in the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Brian Short of the Brandywine Hundred area.
- Monique Johns beat Debbie Harrington and James Ryan in the Democratic race to face Republican Rep. Kevin Hensley for the Odessa-area seat.
- Krista Griffith defeated Rachel Blumenfeld in the Democratic primary to face incumbent Republican Rep. Debbie Hudson to represent the Greenville-Hockessin area.
- Democrat Franklin Cooke Jr. defeated Linwood Jackson and Jakin Mohammed in the New Castle-area race is to succeed Democratic Rep. James “J.J.” Johnson, who did not seek re-election.
- Melissa Minor-Brown defeated Michael Burns and David J. Roberts in the New Castle-area race to replace incumbent Democratic Rep. Michael Mulrooney, who is not running.
- Democrat Guillermina Gonzalez defeated Renee Taschner and Republican Michael Smith bested Katherine Beard in two primaries to replace Pike Creek-area Republican Joe Miro, who is not running.
- Dover-area incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Lynn defeated Ralph Taylor and will face Republican David Anderson, who defeated Jean Dowding.
- Republican Jesse Vanderwende defeated Robert Mitchell to replace the GOP’s Rep. David Wilson, who is not running.
There were also a handful of county primaries.
In New Castle County, Scott Phillips defeated the incumbent Democratic sheriff, Sam Pratcher. In New Castle County Council races, incumbent Democrats Ken Woods, Penrose Hollins held off challengers, but David Carter defeated incumbent William Powers Jr.
In Sussex County, the Republican primary to replace U.S. Senate primary winner Arlett was won by John Rieley over Kevin Christophel.
Also in Sussex County, Douglas Hudson defeated George Parish in the Republican primary to replace the GOP’s George Cole, who is not running.