Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long runs for governor
WILMINGTON — Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long announced her campaign for Delaware governor at an event held at the Delaware Historical Society’s Old Town Hall on Tuesday morning.
The seasoned politician and the state’s No. 2 elected official has long been expected to run in the 2024 gubernatorial race, as Hall-Long has been in public office for 20 years and has been active this summer in advocating for the state’s arts scene, handing out opioid testing strips, and hosting mental health summits. She has also made private visits throughout the state in the past year, and even had at least one scheduled the day of her campaign announcement.
Her announcement sets up at least a two-way Democratic primary election next year as term-limited New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer has also announced a run for governor.
If elected, Hall-Long would continue a Delaware custom of choosing a lieutenant governor as the next chief of state as Govs. John Carney and Ruth Ann Minner both did so in the last two decades. She would also be only the second female Delaware governor in history after Minner, who served from 2001 to 2009.
“As a nurse, mom, and proud Delawarean, I’m running for governor to make Delaware the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” Hall-Long said in a statement. “There’s work to do to improve access to health care, create good-paying jobs, protect our rights, and strengthen our education system – and I’m up for the challenge, because when you give a nurse a job, that job gets done.”
A Middletown resident, Hall-Long was born and raised on a Sussex County farm. Later in life, she earned a nursing degree from Thomas Jefferson University, a master’s degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, and a Doctorate in Health Policy and Nursing Administration from George Mason University.
Hall-Long had worked as a nurse her entire career, and now teaches at the University of Delaware. She has also worked as a research scientist.
In 2002, she successfully ran to represent west Middletown in the state House of Representatives. Six years later, she was elected a state senator.
When elected lieutenant governor, she helped create the Behavioral Health Consortium, devoted to devising short-term and long-term plans to address mental health issues. Over her two terms, she has also been focused on health care issues and has been a part of handing out Naloxone and test strips for other drugs.
This summer, Hall-Long announced a pilot program with SIVAD Diagnostic Medical Group, Brandywine Counseling and others to hand out testing strips for the dangerous synthetic opiate fentanyl and xylazine, an animal tranquilizer that causes festering sores when injected in humans, throughout the state.
Her work as a nurse made Hall-Long the top choice for principal investigator of the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, where she helps lead the state’s response to public health emergencies. When the COVID-19 vaccine was approved for general administration, she was one of the nurses at Dover Motor Speedway administering shots.
The lieutenant governor has also made herself known for her stance on women’s issues. On the anniversary of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe V. Wade, Hall-Long promised to continue the fight for reproductive care. During the last legislative session, Hall-Long advocated alongside Sen. Kyle Evans Gay for improving access to child care and early education.
While serving for seven years alongside Gov. Carney, she notably broke with the governor last year, supporting the legalization of marijuana when Carney was still staunchly opposed. The drug was legalized this year after Carney chose not to act on the proposal.
The episode does not appear to have soured their political relationship, however, as Carney is set to host a political campaign kickoff fundraiser for Hall-Long later this month in Wilmington. Within hours of Hall-Long’s official campaign launch, the governor formally endorsed her.
“In the two decades I’ve known her, I’ve seen Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long get results through her remarkable work ethic and her genuine care and concern for the people of this state,” Carney said in a statement. “We worked together to get the state’s finances under control. I relied on her experience and judgment as we led the state through an unprecedented pandemic.”
“Delawareans will not find a more dedicated leader and champion than Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long,” the governor continued. “I’ve been proud to serve alongside her, and I’m proud to endorse her as Delaware’s next Governor.”
An endorsement from Carney might be a major advantage for Hall-Long as she looks to make up a fundraising gap with Meyer at the outset of the race.
According to her year-end 2022 campaign finance report, Hall-Long had more than $423,000 in her coffers, but Meyer’s campaign had already stockpiled more than $1 million in the same timeframe.
Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the campaign announcement was at the Delaware Art Museum. We regret the error.
This story has also been updated with the note that Gov. John Carney has formally endorsed Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long.