Carper defeats Harris in Senate primary, will face Arlett in November

Tom Carper
Kirk Smith/THE REVIEW
Sen. Tom Carper has won in an unexpectedly contested primary race that gained national attention in recent weeks.

BY
Editor in Chief


Sen. Tom Carper has defeated opponent Kerri Evelyn Harris in the Delaware Democratic primary election, clearing perhaps his largest hurdle as he aims for a fourth term in the Senate.

Carper gathered over 53,000 votes, with Harris falling just short of the 30,000 mark.

Rob Arlett defeated Eugene Truono in the Republican primary. Arlett is a Sussex County councilman who, although failing to appear publicly in recent weeks to defend himself against Truono, walked away with over 66 percent of the vote.

Despite an enormous funding advantage and high approval ratings, Carper, at age 71 and in his 42nd year of public service, faced an unforeseen threat late in his primary campaign, as political newcomer and grassroots organizer Harris followed a surge of momentum into voting day.

The race gained national attention in recent weeks, particularly after Harris received an endorsement from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upset Rep. Joseph Crowley in a New York primary in June. Ocasio-Cortez and Harris appeared in Trabant for a town hall last Friday, also appearing in Wilmington later in the day.

The Harris campaign worked to emulate Ocasio-Cortez’s approach, painting Carper as an out-of-touch establishment politician who no longer represented his constituents.

But the message did not resonate with the majority of Delaware voters. Harris, whose campaign drew upon national progressive hallmarks such as a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all and calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), proved incapable of disrupting “The Delaware Way” in a state traditionally marked by corporate leniency, a commitment to bipartisanship and moderate politics.

Deflecting attacks from Harris supporters and left-leaning publications, such as The Intercept, Carper relied on his tried-and-true strategies, often pointing to the mileage on his minivan — exceeding 400,000 miles — and relied heavily on his voting record in the Senate, where he has worked to pass environmental policy and defend the Affordable Care Act.

But, especially in recent weeks, Carper took the threat seriously, receiving an endorsement from Joe Biden and ramping up campaign efforts.

Evidently, it worked, and now Carper will face off against Arlett in the November general elections.

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