Delaware Gov. John Carney announces Wilmington mayoral run

Carney said he was “strongly considering” running last fall after current Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki announced he was retiring. Now he’s officially in the race.

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Delaware Gov. John Carney, speaks at an Amtrak facility in Bear, Del., Monday, Nov. 6, 2023

Delaware Gov. John Carney, speaks at an Amtrak facility in Bear, Del., Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke))

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Delaware Gov. John Carney announced his run for Wilmington mayor to succeed Mayor Mike Purzycki, who is not seeking re-election after serving two terms.

The governor hosted a kickoff event at Delaware Tech’s downtown Wilmington campus Monday evening with hundreds of people in attendance.

Gov. John Carney
Gov. John Carney makes remarks at kickoff for Wilmington mayor campaign race. (Sarah Mueller/WHYY)

He said being Wilmington’s mayor would be, in some ways, more challenging than being governor.

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“A lot of good things are happening, and a lot of challenges — public safety, gun violence in neighborhoods, some of the need for community development and affordable housing,” Carney told reporters before addressing supporters at the event.

The governor will face a fellow Democrat, former state treasurer and current city Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter, in the September primary. Jones-Potter previously campaigned for mayor in 2020, only to lose to Purzycki in a vitriolic three-way race. Jones-Potter did not respond to a request for comment.

Carney, 67, has served two terms as governor, but is term-limited. Last fall, he told WHYY News he was “strongly considering” running for mayor. In a news release, he touted his experience as governor as the reason he is best suited for the job. He said top priorities would include public education and affordable housing.

“During my seven years as governor, we’ve invested more in the city of Wilmington than any administration that came before us,” he said. “Our state can be successful only if our city is successful. It’s as simple as that.”

An Israel-Hamas war protester interrupted the event, but attendees sang over the woman’s words and she was ejected from the event.

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There are currently no Republican candidates running.

Jones-Potter became the first African American in Delaware history to hold statewide office when Gov. Jack Markell appointed her as state treasurer in 2009. Her campaign touts her efforts in that office during the Great Recession and highlights her national recognition for financial education and empowerment initiatives launched during her tenure.

Her campaign says she plans to focus on issues such as increasing homeownership, youth violence protection and early childhood through 12th grade education.

As sitting governor, Carney is already dominating the funding contest. Campaign records show that the committee supporting his municipal run, Carney for Wilmington, ended 2023 with more than $100,000 cash on hand. Jones-Potter had about $21,240.

Before his election as governor in 2016, he served eight years as lieutenant governor and six years as the state’s at-large U.S. representative in Congress.

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