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Rep. Blunt Rochester to run for Senate

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Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester Jobs Agenda

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester discusses her Jobs Agenda bill package during an April 12 press conference in Newark. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester announced her long-awaited campaign for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning, which will spark a down ballot impact across Delaware.

Sen. Tom Carper announced last month that he will not seek re-election in the 2024 cycle after serving in public office for 40 years. In announcing his impending retirement, Carper also endorsed Blunt Rochester who has long worked for him in various roles.

“Serving the people of Delaware alongside Lisa has been one of the great joys of my life. She is just the kind of leader that we’ll need in the U.S. Senate in the days ahead, and she will make us proud. Indeed, she already has,” Carper said in an official endorsement published after her announcement.

Blunt Rochester confirmed her bid for the Democratic nomination in a three-minute campaign video that featured Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where she attended service with her grandmother as a young girl.

“Even as a little girl, Bright Hope sparked in me. It became the story of my life. And bright hope is the story of America, too,” she said in the video, which recounted her personal life, public service and the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

The daughter of longtime Wilmington City Councilman and President Ted Blunt, Blunt Rochester often recounts growing up in subsidized housing in Philadelphia before her family moved to Wilmington. As a young mother, she attended a town hall hosted by then-Rep. Carper and grew interested in the work of his office. Blunt Rochester would later intern and work under the congressman, before his run for governor.

After his election in 1992, she rose to deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and then labor secretary during Carper’s tenure. She served as the state personnel director under his successor, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

Blunt Rochester would leave public service to serve as the CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, a nonprofit that empowers people of color to achieve economic self-reliance, parity and civil rights.

The unexpected death of her husband, Charles, following an injury in 2014 led her to run for Congress, winning her first election in 2016 and becoming the first woman to hold Delaware’s lone congressional seat. She has since been re-elected three times, easily dispatching Democratic and Republican challengers while becoming a visible advocate for economic development, affordable housing, public education and more.

Notably, Blunt Rochester recently filed in Congress her Jobs Agenda, a seven-bill package that combines workforce development, affordable housing and supply chain resilience into the biggest legislative proposal in her four terms.

If elected to the Senate, Blunt Rochester would become just the third Black woman to serve in the chamber in its history.

With party leadership firmly behind her campaign and more than $750,000 in cash on hand in her current campaign war chest, Blunt Rochester is unlikely to face a serious intraparty candidate in next year’s elections. Republicans have yet to field a candidate in the race – although former Blunt Rochester opponent Lee Murphy was noticeably on hand for Carper’s retirement announcement. With both Carper and Chris Coons capturing about 60% of the vote in the last two Senate races though, it would take a significant upset to overtake Blunt Rochester in 2024.

The decision to run for Senate will open Delaware’s at-large congressional seat for the first time in eight years, and State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Wilmington) is widely reported to be considering a run for the seat. Delaware State Housing Authority Director Eugene Young has also told supporters that he’s considering a run for Congress.

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