It’s a somewhat unusual Thursday election day (next Thursday is the final primary day, New York state offices) but there’s the potential it will be an interesting one.
Tom Carper is a low key, three term Democratic Senator from The First State. He first won election in 2000 by defeating 5 term Republican Senator William Roth. At the time of that campaign Roth was 78 and his age was a campaign issue. Carper will be 72 in January of next year.
The contest has familiar story lines for Democrats this year. Carper, the long time incumbent, focuses on his experience and ability to get things done in D.C. His new comer to elective politics challenger, Air Force veteran Kerri Evelyn Harris, is a bi-racial queer woman in her 30s, represents the more diverse nature of today’s Democratic party.
Unlike the primary upsets in NY-14 and MA-07, there are some significant policy differences between the candidates. Delaware is traditionally a very business friendly state and the pharmaceutical industry is one of the state’s leading employers. Harris has made Carper’s corporate relationships a major issue in the campaign.
Her campaign literature stresses, in bold font, that Carper accepts campaign contributions from “Big Pharma.” She has criticized the senator for voting against lowering drug costs for seniors by closing a Medicare coverage gap. Even in her stump speech, Harris advocates for making prescription medicines more affordable by allowing drug importation from Canada.
“You can see that pharmaceutical companies take precedence over the rest of us when it comes to bringing in cheaper drugs from Canada even though we know they’ve been tested to the same degree,” Harris said to applause on Friday.
Defeating an incumbent Senator is an accomplishment of a different order of magnitude than a sitting member of the House. Since 2000 there have only been four Senators denied denomination by their party: Joe Lieberman D-CT in 2006, Robert Bennett R-UT 2010, Lisa Murkowski R-AK 2010, and Richard Lugar R-IN in 2012. Lieberman and Murkowski went on to retain their seats by running respectively as an independent and write-in candidate.
Going back before that, the list isn’t that much longer.
There have already been four sitting members of the House to lose their primaries this year.
Carper has only face one primary challenger in his Senate career. That was in 2012 and he won with 88% of the vote.
The Øptimus legislative model is quite favorable for Democrats, giving them an 98.9% chance of retaining the seat.
Polls close at 8pm eastern and you can find full results from DDHQ here.