After Democrat Stephanie Hansen was voted into Delaware’s State Senate on Feb. 25, it was confirmed that the state’s senate majority would remain Democrat.
Hansen will be filling Democrat Bethany Hall-Long’s seat, who won the election for Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor in November. When Hall-Long’s seat was empty, the Senate was evenly divided down partisan lines at 10 seats each for Republicans and Democrats.
Hansen’s win means that Delaware’s 44 years as a primarily Democratic state will continue.
Her campaign was primarily focused on creating jobs, supporting the middle class, preserving farms, making college more accessible and fighting against the “addiction epidemic.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden and recently elected Delaware Gov. John Carney both expressed support for Hansen.
After it was announced that she won, Hansen posted on her campaign’s Facebook page to thank District 10 voters. She said the win had “sent a clear message heard loud and clear from Dover to D.C.”
She had won the special election with 58.13 percent of the vote. Her opponents, Republican John Marino and Libertarian John Lanzendorfer, earned 40.75 percent and 1.12 percent respectively. Voter turnout was 35.21 percent, which was considered fairly high for a local election.
There are 35,673 registered voters in the district, with 16,165 registered Democrats, 10,113 registered Republicans and 9,395 categorized as ‘other.’ Because of the close numbers, there was uncertainty surrounding who would win and by how much.
The uncertainty also led to this being one of the most expensive local elections in Delaware history. According to The News Journal, Hansen raised approximately $306,472, with $183,416 left to spend in the last week of the election. First State Strong, a political action committee, spent an additional $390,000 on campaigning for Hansen.
Marino spent less than half of that at only $65,389. FirstStateFirst, another political action committee, spent $35,267 on his campaign.
Delaware Republicans argued that Hansen’s spending was excessive, while Delaware Democrats said that it was just a sign of the widespread support Hansen received.
Some students who live in District 10, which includes southern Newark and Middletown, drove home to vote.
“I live 10 minutes away from campus, so it was really easy to go back to vote,” senior Kassiya Yarovoy said.
Yarovoy also said that she hadn’t known about the election until about Wednesday of the week before, and she didn’t know she lived in the district until one of the candidates sent her a letter.
She also acknowledged that she knew the election’s outcome could potentially change the balance of power in Delaware.
After the 2016 elections, six states were identified as ‘trifectas,’ which are states where one political party holds the majority governorship. Oregan, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii and Delaware are the six that hold a Democratic trifecta. 25 states are Republican trifectas.
Junior elementary education major David Strong also lives in District 10, but decided not to vote.
“Even though I am focused on politics and teaching children about politics, I didn’t think that — as a college student — [the election] was that relevant to me at this time,” Strong said.
He explained that he would consider voting in future elections, but he did not “have time for this one.”
In response to Hansen’s win, Strong said that he usually voted Democrat, and had he voted, he would have voted for her.
Yarovoy, on the other hand, found the results “disappointing.”
“I thought it was a good opportunity to shift the balance of power in a state that could definitely use it, but that didn’t happen,” she said.