- Associated Press - Thursday, February 23, 2017

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Reeling from the election of Donald Trump, Democrats are calling in heavy hitters such as former Vice President Joe Biden to stump for their candidate in a million-dollar campaign to win a Senate seat in Delaware. That normally wouldn’t be unusual - except this campaign is for a state Senate seat, not one in Washington. A special election on Saturday will determine whether Democrats maintain power in the General Assembly, or whether Republicans control the Senate for the first time in almost half a century.

Here’s a look at the 10th District Senate race, which pits Democrat Stephanie Hansen against Republican John Marino and Libertarian John Lanzendorfer in a battle to succeed Democrat Bethany Hall-Long, who was elected lieutenant governor in November.


Democrats have held the governor’s office in Delaware for 24 years and have led both chambers of the General Assembly since 2008, when they rode the coattails of Barack Obama and native son Biden to take control of the state House.

But a stunning upset of the Democratic Senate president pro tem by a GOP newcomer in November, coupled with Hall Long’s ascension to the lieutenant governor’s office, has resulted in a 10-10 deadlock in the Senate.

If Marino wins Saturday’s special election, Republicans will regain control of the Senate for the first time in 44 years and will have considerable influence over Democratic Gov. John Carney’s agenda. A GOP win would also leave only five states in which Democrats control both the legislative and executive branches.


Hansen has raised more than $400,000 for her campaign, roughly four times the combined amount that Marino and Hall-Long raised in their 2014 Senate contest, which Marino narrowly lost.

In addition to Hansen’s fundraising total, a political action committee supporting her has raised more than $400,000 for third-party advertisements. The Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council, an arm of the AFL-CIO, also has distributed campaign literature supporting Hansen.

Marino, meanwhile, has raised about $140,000. He is supported by First State First, a Republican political action committee that contributed more than $40,000 this month for third-party advertisements.


While Marino has waged a relatively low-profile campaign, the Democratic Party establishment in Delaware has made a huge push for Hansen. Biden appeared at a campaign rally for Hansen and later joined her in knocking on doors in the 10th District. All three members of Delaware’s congressional delegation also have campaigned with Hansen. Carney has cozied up to her, and former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley appeared at a campaign rally for Hansen.


Supporters of both Hansen and Marino accused their opponents of improper campaign tactics. The head of the Delaware Republican Party filed a complaint with the state elections commissioner alleging that the PAC supporting Hansen had improperly engaged in “express advocacy” supporting her election. The GOP also claimed that organized labor had illegally coordinated with Hansen’s campaign while purportedly making “independent expenditures” supporting her.

Similarly, the president of the Delaware AFL-CIO complained about improper coordination between Marino and the First State First, the Republican political action committee. The elections commissioner declined to refer either complaint to the attorney general’s office.

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