Delaware & Rhode Island Vote Today

By Jim Ellis

Former Delaware Sen. Joe Biden’s old seat is up for selection today.

Sept. 15, 2020 — The regular election state primaries conclude today as voters in Delaware and Rhode Island, two of America’s smallest states, vote to close out nomination season.

Louisiana holds its primary concurrent with the general election, so voters there will either elect officials outright with majority support or send the top two finishers into Dec. 5 runoff elections. We will also see a special jungle US Senate primary in Georgia concurrent with Election Day, and voters in the Atlanta area will go to the polls on Sept. 29 to choose a short-term successor to the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta). Otherwise, nominations throughout the 50 states are complete.

As Joe Biden runs for president, the Delaware US Senate seat he held for 36 years also appears on the ballot in this election. Biden resigned the position when he became vice president, just after being elected to his seventh term in the body. Then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors member and Biden confidant Ted Kaufman (D) to replace the outgoing senator, and he served the first two years of the term but chose not to enter the 2010 special election. In that vote, voters selected a new senator to serve the final four years of that existing term.

The special election winner was then-New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D), who was nominated in party convention and then defeated consultant Christine O’Donnell (R), 57-40 percent. This proved to be a wacky race where rumors abounded, and even a campaign commercial aired suggesting that O’Donnell believed herself to be a witch.

Sen. Coons was then re-elected to a full term in 2014, a 56-42 percent victory over Republican Kevin Wade. He now stands for a second six-year term this year and appears as a lock for re-election. Today, Sen. Coons faces a relatively minor Democratic primary challenge from business consultant Jess Scarane who had raised over $323,000 through the Aug. 26 pre-primary filing deadline. There is no indication that this election will be close either tonight or in the general election.

A pair of Republicans are on the ballot, attorney and Marine Corps veteran James Martino and Trump campaign activist Lauren Witzke. Whoever wins tonight will only be a small threat to Sen. Coons in the general election.

Gov. John Carney (D) runs for a second term, and he, too, should see little in the way of serious competition. He has one opponent today, Army veteran David Lamar Williams, Jr. (D), a minor candidate. Seven Republicans are in this gubernatorial primary race, including two state senators, Colin Bonini (R-Magnolia) and Bryant Richardson (R-Sussex County). Whoever wins the primary tonight begins as a heavy underdog to Gov. Carney in a very short general election cycle.

Sophomore US. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Wilmington) seeks re-election and is unopposed in today’s Democratic primary. Two Republicans are running for the party nomination, but neither is a serious candidate. Teacher and actor Lee Murphy has raised just under $60,000, and he is the top fundraiser. Accountant Matthew Morris has no reported resources. Tonight’s underdog will not be competitive in November against Rep. Blunt Rochester.

Though there is a primary in Rhode Island today, nothing is left to decide. Democratic incumbent Sen. Jack Reed and Reps. David Cicilline (D-Providence) and Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) have no primary opposition, so all automatically advance into the general election.

On the Republican side, financial consultant Allen Waters, who ran for office twice in Massachusetts, will be the GOP Senate nominee. He, too, is unopposed in tonight’s primary but will have little chance against Sen. Reed in November.

There is no Republican filed in the 1st Congressional District, so Rep. Cicilline will face only Independent opponents in the general election. Rep. Langevin has opposition in the form of state Rep. Bob Lancia in the general election. As with the others, Lancia is unopposed for his party’s nomination.

The major congressional action in this state will occur in 2022 because it appears certain that Rhode Island will lose one of its districts in reapportionment. Therefore, in the next decade the Ocean State will have only at-large representation.

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