John Carney kicks off gubernatorial campaign in Sussex County

Delaware gubernatorial candidate John Carney wrapped up his campaign kick-offs with an event in Lewes Tuesday.

The Democratic congressman met voters at an outdoor event at Canalfront Park, and promised to create jobs and improve the state’s economy.

“All the anxiety you see out there among Americans and Delawareans playing out in this presidential campaign is because we’ve lost so many of those jobs that enable people to lift their families out of the middle class,” Carney told supporters.

“I don’t want to waste one day, and every day I get up I want to make sure we’re working hard to do the right thing for our state. And the most important thing is to redefine the economy of our state.”

Prior to Tuesday’s event Carney hosted community barbecues in Wilmington and Newark, and a spaghetti dinner in Dover. He said he will continue to hold discussions with residents during what he calls a grassroots campaign, and announce his proposals to improve the economy, education and criminal justice.

“I’ve always believed in the Joe Biden axiom that if you want to get elected in Delaware you should come to Sussex County first and develop a relationship with the people of Sussex county, which is what I’ve tried to do,” Carney said after the Lewes event.

Carney is the only Democrat on the gubernatorial ticket. Two Republicans—State Senator Colin Bonini, R-Dover South, and former Delaware State Trooper Lacey Lafferty—will face off in the republican primary election next month. Air Force veteran Sean Goward also is running a campaign as a libertarian.

This is Carney’s second bid for Governor—he lost against Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, in the 2008 primary. Prior to the election he served as Lt. Governor during Ruth Ann Minner’s term.  Carney has been a U.S. Representative for Delaware since 2011.

“We need to start electing people who can get the job done, who know the way in Delaware and who haven’t been here just two days and think they can answer all the questions—listen, learn and work with them,” said Joe Conaway, who previously has served as County Administrator, Mayor of Bridgeville, President of the Woodbridge School District board and Chief Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

He said he has supported Carney since he was Lt. Governor in 2000.

“I find him to be an outstanding person, I think he’s qualified, more so than most folks who aspire to this position, he’s a man of integrity, he can get things done, he reaches out, he wants Delaware to be better,” Conaway said.

“It’s going to be a hard job, we have money problems, but I think he’s the right man for the job and I’m looking forward to eight years of John Carney as governor.”

Lewes Mayor Theodore Becker said he’s known Carney for several years and admires his political achievements.  

“I think he’s been excellent at reaching across the aisle to work with both sides, and I think as we go forward that’s going to be very important, whether it’s at the state level or national level,” he said.  

“He’s a native Delawarean who has a very strong commitment to the state, and I believe he has the state’s best interest at heart.”

Speaker of the House, Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, said he and his colleagues in Legislative Hall have a strong relationship with the candidate.

“John’s coming back, he knows all of us at Leg. Hall, that’s important to us at Leg. Hall, that we get somebody who understands how we work,” he said. “He’s been there, he’s worked inside the hall, we know him well, so we’re looking forward to working with him in the next four years.”

Several Sussex County residents also said they attended Tuesday’s event to support Carney. Jim Bertholet of Milton said Carney was a strong congressman and lieutenant governor, and will vote for him in November.   

“He’s been trying to fight to bring two sides together in Congress as much as he can and anyone trying to fight and do that I’m going to support,” he said.

Carol LaBruno of Lewes said she looked forward to talking to Carney about the needs of Sussex County residents.

“It’s not a matter of what party you belong to, it’s a matter of who is doing the best job and who can continue to do the best job,” she said.

“[His best quality is] honesty, which is the biggest issue on the market right now, caring about what’s going on in Delaware, which is why we’re here to talk to him and tell him what we think and need as residents here.”

Carney said as representative of the minority party in the U.S. Congress, he has worked with Republicans on several issues.

“I co-chaired a bipartisan weekly breakfast that was very helpful in moving initiatives along that were positive for the state of Delaware,” he said. “We saved 500 jobs in making amendments to the Affordable Care Act. We did that by working with Democrats and Republicans.”

Carney said his ability to work well with others, as well as his experience, makes him the most qualified candidate.

“I believe I have the broad range of experience, I think our ideas will be better [than the other candidates] in how we will create jobs and make our economy more attractive for business, and how we’re going to improve public schools,” he said.

 “I think I’m better prepared than I’ve ever been to lead Delaware and be Delaware’s next governor.”


Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal