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Primary elections results reveal new faces

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By Randall Chase, Associated Press

WILMINGTON (AP) — The results of Tuesday’s primary elections in Delaware ensure there will be plenty of new faces among public office holders in Delaware, no matter what happens in November.

Democratic challengers ousted the incumbent state insurance commissioner as well as the mayor of Wilmington and the chief executive in New Castle County, the state’s most populous.

Voters also chose their favorites to succeed Delaware’s lone U.S. congressman, who is running for governor, and to fill the vacant post of lieutenant governor.

Former Delaware Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester won the Democratic primary for U.S. House, positioning herself to become the first African-American and first woman to represent the state in Congress.

“People were looking for positive problem-solvers, and they felt the message we put out and the campaign we ran was positive,” said Rochester, who said her focus would be jobs, the economy and equal pay for equal work.

If elected in November, Rochester would find herself a freshman Democrat from one of the country’s smallest states in what likely will be a Republican-led House, but she said she was looking forward to working with Republicans in Washington as she has in Delaware.

Rochester will face Republican Hans Reigle, an aviation instructor and former Air Force pilot, in November’s general election.

With Democrats far outnumbering Republicans in Delaware, Rochester and other winners of Democratic primaries will have the numbers stacked in their favor as they head into November.

Rochester won in a crowded field of candidates vying to replace fellow Democrat John Carney Jr. in Congress. Carney opted to run for governor after former Attorney General Beau Biden died last year after having announced his intentions to run for governor.

In a race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, Carney will face state Sen. Colin Bonini of Dover, who defeated retired state trooper Lacey Lafferty in Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary.

“I do think we have a chance,” Bonini said. “It is a change year, and folks are ready for change, and I think the Democrats quite frankly have not done a very good job.”

In another statewide race, state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long of Middletown led a field of six candidates to win the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, an office that has sat vacant since former incumbent Matt Denn became attorney general in January 2015.

Hall-Long will face Republican La Mar Gunn of Dover in November.

In other primary contests, New Castle County Sheriff Trinidad Navarro defeated incumbent insurance commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart, and New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon lost to challenger Matthew Meyer.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams lost his bid for re-election amid voter frustration over his inability to fulfill a promise to stem violent crime in Delaware’s largest city, which was dubbed “Murder Town USA” in a 2014 Newsweek article.

Businessman Michael Purzycki, executive director of Wilmington’s Riverfront Development Corporation, pledged that if elected in November he would work to unify the city and would govern “with open ears, an open mind and an open heart.”

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