Delaware Democratic Party
ChairpersonBetsy Maron
GovernorJohn Carney
Lieutenant GovernorBethany Hall-Long
Speaker of the HouseValerie Longhurst
Senate President Pro TemporeDavid Sokola
House Majority LeaderMelissa Minor-Brown
HeadquartersNew Castle, Delaware
Membership (2021)Increase362,181[1]
IdeologyMajority:
Modern liberalism Factions:
Centrism
Progressivism[2]
Political positionCenter-left to left-wing[2]
National affiliationDemocratic Party
Colors  Blue
Delaware Senate
15 / 21
Delaware House of Representatives
26 / 41
Statewide Executive Offices
6 / 6
United States Senate
2 / 2
United States House of Representatives
1 / 1
County Councils
16 / 24
Website
www.deldems.org

The Delaware Democratic Party (DelDems) is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Delaware. It is headquartered in New Castle County and chaired by Erik Raser-Schramm.

The party is the dominant political party in Delaware and has existed since the Jacksonian Democrats broke away from the Federalists in 1825. Incumbent U.S. President Joe Biden is a Delaware Democrat, having served as a U.S. Senator from the state from 1973 to 2009, when he was inaugurated as vice president. The party also occupies all seats for the state in Congress, all statewide executive offices, and majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Historically a more centrist affiliate of the Democratic Party, the state party has recently become more progressive due to the movement's recent electoral successes against the centrist wing of the party.

History

Party creation

As the first state to ratify the United States Constitution, Delaware was at the forefront of the creation in U.S. political parties. The origins of the Delaware Democratic Party can be traced back to the original anti-federalist party. While key difference divide this part from the Democratic Party today, key issues involving government involvement and ideologies such as Jeffersonian and Jacksonian can be linked to modern day ideals of the Delaware Democratic party.[3] Despite being one of the first states with true parties, the spiritual predecessor of the Democratic party struggled to support its agenda in the state. It wasn't until the splitting of parties into federalists and Jacksonians that the Democratic party got its first true start. With only one bad loss in 1855 to the American Party, the Democratic Party dominated politics up until the end of Reconstruction in the United States.[3] Most fascinating of all, was how the party maintained its popularity during the Civil War. Despite being a northern state, Delaware Democrats opposed the abolition of slavery and named themselves "the white man's party" as they fought the Republican congress during Reconstruction.[3] With 36 years of election dominance, the Democrats eventually fell out of power due to the growth of industry in the state.

1900s-1940s

Following the ousting of the Democrats in both the federal and state sector, the Republican Party remained the dominant party throughout the early 1900s and up until World War II. Even when J. Edward Addicks attempted to illegally purchase the Republican seat in the U.S. Senate, the Democrats were unable to capitalize.[3] From 1897 to 1936, Delaware Democrats held little power in politics with Republicans either dominating the state senate and house of Representatives, or the Democrats completely absent from federal politics. With the power of industry overriding agriculture, the Democratic Party was not able to regain an equal footing in the state until Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office.

1950s-1990s

Following its period of weakness, the Democratic Party of Delaware began to regain an equal foothold with its Republican rival following World War II. Democrat Elbert N. Carvel served two terms as the governor of the state and helped keep his party relevant when they did not control the state legislature.[3] The Democrats of the late 1970s to 2000 held an equal footing in the state, neither party gaining serious ground on the other. Democrats would end up holding the Governor position in the state for 30 years.[3]

2000s-present

Initial regaining of power (2000s-mid 2010s)

In the 21st century, the Democratic Party has risen to become the most popular party in Delaware. The party has control at the state level over the executive branch and the legislative branch. In 2000, incumbent Democratic Governor Tom Carper defeated Delaware's last Republican United States Senator to date, William Roth, by a 12-point margin. Incumbent Republican United States Representative Mike Castle retired in 2010 to run for U.S. Senate. The seat switched from Republican to Democratic when then-Lieutenant Governor John Carney won the seat that year, which was one of three congressional seats that Democrats gained in 2010.

Progressive movement and ideological factions (late 2010s-present)

Preceding the late-2010s, the progressive faction of the Democratic Party held little power in Delaware politics, with the party being primarily dominated by the centrist and conservative wings. In 2018, incumbent centrist U.S. Senator Tom Carper faced an unexpected progressive primary challenge from Dover activist Kerri Evelyn Harris, who received 35 percent of the vote, which was the highest percentage against a statewide incumbent in 20 years.

In the 2020 state Democratic primaries, the progressive movement made unexpected significant gains on the state and local level. The most powerful Democrat in the Delaware Senate, President Pro Tempore David McBride, lost to progressive challenger Marie Pinkney by nearly 5 points. Among other notable wins was progressive Eric Morrison's 22-point landslide defeat of conservative Democrat incumbent state representative Earl Jaques Jr., who faced controversy over homophobic comments he made towards Morrison, who is gay. Other progressive insurgents in the Delaware legislature in the 2020 primaries included Larry Lambert and Madinah Wilson-Anton.[4] Progressive incumbent County Executive of New Castle County Matt Meyer also defeated his significantly funded centrist challenger by 13 points.[5]

Following the progressive gains in the 2020 elections, bills advanced by the progressive faction to raise the Delaware minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the legalization of recreational marijuana were passed through the state legislature.[6][7] Governor John Carney signed the $15/hour minimum wage bill, but vetoed the legalization of recreational marijuana, for which he was heavily criticized by fellow Democrats.[8] Progressive County Executive Matt Meyer wrote an open letter to the Delaware legislature encouraging them to override Carney's veto.[9]

During Carney's governorship, the progressive movement has managed to pressure more typically centrist Democrats to more liberal policy positions, mainly in reaction to Carney's comparatively conservative stances. Delaware Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long came out in support of legalizing recreational marijuana following Carney's veto announcement.[10] Carney ultimately allowed marijuana to be legalized in Delaware in 2023, when a second round of legalization bills came to his desk, and he neither signed nor vetoed it.

Further criticism of Carney's stances by the progressive wing of the party have been for his support for capital punishment in certain cases. Attorney General Kathy Jennings stated that if the death penalty was reinstated in Delaware, she would refuse to enforce it.[11] 72 percent of Delaware Democratic voters oppose capital punishment.[12] In June 2024, the Delaware House passed a bill pushed by progressives to abolish the death penalty in statute.[13]

In the 2022 elections, progressive former U.S. Senate candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris won a seat to the Delaware House of Representatives.[14][15]

In April 2024, the Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide for those with terminal illnesses, a priority of the progressive faction of Delaware Democrats.[16] In June 2024, the Delaware Senate passed the bill.[17]

Current elected officials

The following is a list of elected statewide and federal Democratic officeholders beginning in 2019:

Members of Congress

Democrats comprise all of Delaware's 3-member Congressional delegation - including both US Senators and the lone member of the House of Representatives.

U.S. Senate

Democrats have controlled both of Delaware's seats in the U.S. Senate since 2000:

U.S. House of Representatives

Democtats have controlled Delaware's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010:

District Member Photo
At-large Lisa Blunt Rochester

Statewide officials

Democrats control all six statewide elected offices.

State legislative leaders

Federal executive officials

President, former Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Senator Joe Biden was elected Vice President of the United States alongside Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who was elected President of the United States. Biden is the first Delawarean to run on a presidential ticket, and the first Delawarean to be elected and hold the office. Biden assumed the Vice Presidency on January 20, 2009, and served until January 20, 2017.

In the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Joe Biden was elected President of the United States alongside California Senator Kamala Harris, who was elected Vice President of the United States. He is the first Delawarean to be elected to the office of the President. He was sworn in on January 20, 2021.

Presidential electoral history

Delaware voted for Democrats in the following elections:

See also

References

  1. ^ Winger, Richard. "March 2021 Ballot Access News Print Edition". Ballot Access News. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Wave of progressive primary challengers unseat moderate Delaware Democratic lawmakers".
  3. ^ a b c d e f Boyer, William and Edward C. Ratledge. Delaware Politics and Government. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. 2009.
  4. ^ Gamard, Sarah. "Wave of progressive primary challengers unseat moderate Delaware Democratic lawmakers". The News Journal. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  5. ^ Cherry, Amy. "'The people won' | Meyer wins another 4 years as New Castle County Executive". WDEL 101.7FM. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  6. ^ "Governor Carney Signs Legislation to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15". State of Delaware News. 2021-07-19. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  7. ^ "Gov. Carney officially sets Delaware on path to $15 minimum wage". WHYY. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  8. ^ "Delaware Gov. John Carney vetoes marijuana legalization bill". AP NEWS. 2022-05-24. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  9. ^ Meyer, Matt. "It's time for Delaware to legalize and tax marijuana - Opinion". The News Journal. Retrieved 2022-12-09.
  10. ^ "Breaking from Carney, Delaware lieutenant governor says she supports marijuana legalization".
  11. ^ "Positions vary on latest proposal to reinstate death penalty". 7 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Delaware voters support death penalty repeal".
  13. ^ "House passes bill to eliminate death penalty in Delaware".
  14. ^ "2022 General Election Report".
  15. ^ "State of Delaware - Department of Elections". elections.delaware.gov. Retrieved 2022-09-14.
  16. ^ "Delaware House passes doctor-assisted suicide bill with tight margin, sends to Senate".
  17. ^ "Bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide approved by Delaware lawmakers".