Carper and Blunt Rochester, both Democrats, retain seats in U.S. Congress

Tom Carper
Kirk Smith/THE REVIEW
Incumbent Sen. Tom Carper defeated Rob Arlett in the 2018 Midterm election.

BY
Editor in Chief

Following an election season that highlighted national divides, at times turned violent, spiked anxieties and brought new candidates and platforms — from the far right and progressive left alike — to the mainstream, Delaware remains just about the same.

In the state’s two U.S. Congressional races, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) emerged victorious, receiving 59.9% of the vote, as did Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), who walked away with 64.4% of the vote.

Although not without their moments of excitement — and outright oddities — the races concluded as predicted. Carper — who will be entering his fourth, and likely final, term in the Senate — cemented his status as an indomitable force in Delaware politics with a decisive win over Rob Arlett, his Republican opponent.

His victory comes without surprise, but Carper encountered unforeseen resistance throughout the Midterm election season, deflecting attacks from his primary and general election opponents that often bore a resemblance.

Gaining momentum throughout the summer, progressive insurgent Kerri Harris — a Dover native and army veteran who ran on a platform of healthcare-for-all and calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and also voiced support for a $15 minimum wage — attacked Carper’s voting record and close corporate ties, framing the 71-year-old senator as an out-of-touch, establishment politician, consistent with other progressive platforms nationwide.

After gaining a modest amount of national attention following an endorsement by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who appeared with Harris on campus in September, Harris became perceived as a legitimate threat to Carper, prompting the senator’s campaign to bolster its efforts.

But Harris fell short. Following his primary victory, Carper faced a new round of attacks from Rob Arlett, a former Sussex County Trump campaign chairman and Sussex County councilman. Arlett gained some notoriety — and popularity — throughout his primary campaign, publicly contrasting his heterosexuality with the homosexuality of his opponent, Gene Truono.

“I am married to a woman and [Truono] is not,” Arlett said of Truono during his primary campaign.

By last month’s Delaware Debates, however, Arlett had shifted his approach, striking a more moderate tone that drifted from positions advanced by Trump affiliates nationally. During the Debates, Arlett said that he is supportive “with regard to the gays” and affirmed his belief that “no president is above the law.”

But, although adopting milder positions in some areas, Arlett took an aggressive stance against Carper in others. Throughout his campaign, Arlett pointed to Carper’s corporate funding — traceable to pharmaceutical companies, in a state that has been devastated by the opioid crisis — and revived a domestic violence allegation from Carper’s past, which Carper publicly admitted to and apologized for decades ago.

Arlett’s campaign, however, was shadowed by troubles of its own. In September, the New Castle County GOP Chairman, Peter Kopf, stepped down from his position in a refusal to support Arlett. Kopf cited Arlett’s financial troubles, involving foreclosure actions of over $550,000.

Carper made swift work of Arlett, garnering an overwhelming majority of the vote. Throughout his campaign, Carper consistently reaffirmed his commitment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — which he has adamantly defended throughout the Trump presidency — as well as economically pragmatic approaches to address environmental concerns, such as climate change.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (LBR)
Janella Mae Tauchus/THE REVIEW
Incumbent Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester defeated Scott Walker in the 2018 Midterm election.

The House race, between Republican nominee Scott Walker and incumbent Blunt Rochester, proved far less conventional. Blunt Rochester, coming off her first term in Congress, found herself against familiar foe in Walker, who previously ran against her as a Democrat.

The Delaware Republican Party publicly disavowed Walker, who could at times be found meandering around campus in the middle of a Facebook livestream, and who prided himself on a self-made, self-funded campaign.

In an interview with The Review in October, Walker said that he “didn’t really know what’s going on” in Washington D.C. During the Delaware Debates, Walker denied anthropogenic climate change.

Blunt Rochester maintained a sturdy moderate platform throughout the campaign, at times appearing to distance herself from Walker. Blunt Rochester’s campaign emphasized her commitment to climate change action, healthcare as a human right and support of a Congressional role in firearm regulation.

Both victories cemented predicted — and depended upon — victories for the Democratic Party, and both promise to bring a standard Democratic agenda to their upcoming terms.

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