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Stories about Delaware

Lydia York defeats Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuiness in Democratic primary

Lydia York defeated incumbent Kathy McGuiness in the Democratic primary for state auditor on September 13, 2022. McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018.

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July 2022: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count.

McGuiness said that the charges against her were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.



A look at contested state legislative primaries in Delaware

Delaware has 14 contested state legislative primaries this year, an 8% increase from 2020.

Of the 14 contested primaries, there are 11 for Democrats and three for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 12 in 2020, an 8% decrease. For Republicans, the number is up 67% from one in 2020.

Eight incumbents face primary challenges, representing 15% of all incumbents running for re-election. This is lower than in 2020 and 2014, but higher than the 2018 and 2016 election cycles.

Of the eight incumbents in contested primaries, six are Democrats and two are Republicans.

Overall, 108 major party candidates—62 Democrats and 46 Republicans—filed to run. All 41 House and 21 Senate seats are up for election.

Seven of those seats are open, meaning no incumbents filed. This guarantees that at least 11% of the legislature will be represented by newcomers next year, the second-largest such percentage compared to the four preceding election cycles behind 2018, when 21% of seats were guaranteed to newcomers.

Delaware has had a Democratic trifecta since the party won control of the House in 2008. Democrats currently have a 26-15 majority in the House and a 14-7 majority in the Senate.

Delaware’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Sept. 13, the 17th and final statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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Delaware sees two U.S. House candidates this year, the fewest since 2014

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in Delaware this year was July 12, 2022. Two candidates are running for Delaware’s At-Large U.S. House district, one Democrat and one Republican. 

The two candidates running this year are one fewer than the three who ran in 2020 and 2018, and five fewer than the seven who ran in 2016, when the seat was last open. Two candidates ran in 2014, and three did in 2012.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Because it has only one U.S. House seat, Delaware did not need to redistrict after the 2020 census.
  • Incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester (D), first elected in 2016, is running for re-election.
  • Lee Murphy (R) was the only Republican candidate who filed to run this year. 
  • Blunt Rochester and Murphy were the Democratic and Republican nominees in 2020, meaning this year’s general election will be a rematch. 
  • Since the two candidates are from different parties, there are no contested primaries this year. The Republican primary was contested in 2020, 2018, and 2012, while the Democratic primary was contested in 2016. There were no contested primaries in 2014. 

Delaware and two other states — New Hampshire and Rhode Island — are holding primary elections on September 13, 2022. In Delaware, the winner of a primary election is the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes, even if he or she does not win an outright majority of votes cast.



Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions

Incumbent Kathy McGuiness and Lydia York are running in the Democratic primary for Delaware state auditor on September 13, 2022. 

McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018. Before becoming state auditor, she served five terms on the Rehoboth Beach City Commission and worked as a pharmacist. McGuiness is running on her record as auditor. Her campaign website said, “Under Kathy’s leadership, the Auditor’s Office has become a nationwide leader in innovation and efficiency. McGuiness has created a new mobile app for Delaware taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse, and also created an interactive CARES Act Fund Tracker portal.”

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July 2022: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count.

McGuiness said that the charges against her were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

The stated function of the auditor’s office is to “[serve] Delawareans by providing independent objective oversight of the state government’s use of taxpayer dollars with the goal of deterring fraud, waste and abuse through unbiased assessments, including the use of various audits, special reports, and investigations of financial operations designed to ensure statutory compliance while enhancing governmental economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story erroneously listed the Democratic primary as occurring on September 6.



Pillsbury wins Dover City Council special election

The city of Dover, D.E., held a nonpartisan special election for District 1 on the city council on Nov. 16. The filing deadline for this election was Nov. 1.

Julia Pillsbury defeated Brandy Walker in the special election with 53.5% of the vote. According to unofficial results, Pillsbury received 272 votes to Walker’s 236. The special election was called after Matthew Lindell resigned from his seat on the nine-seat city council after deciding to move from the district. Lindell served from 2017 to 2021.

Dover is the capital city of Delaware and the second-largest city in the state. It had an estimated population of 39,403 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.

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A closer look at Delaware’s new state legislative maps

On Nov. 2, 2021, Gov. John Carney (D) signed Senate Bill 199 (SB 199) into law, enacting new maps for Delaware’s 21 state Senate and 41 state House districts. These maps will take effect for the state’s 2022 legislative elections.

Eighteen states have finalized their state legislative redistricting maps following the 2020 census. At this point in the 2010 redistricting cycle, 29 states had completed their legislative maps.

The Delaware General Assembly approved the final House and Senate map proposals on Nov. 1 before sending them to Carney. 

The state Senate approved the maps along party lines with all 14 Democrats in favor and all seven Republicans against. Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola (D) said, “The map does retain the cores of all 21 current Senate districts … It does retain five majority-minority Senate districts. It retains one majority-Black Senate district.” 

Republican senators opposing the bill said the Senate map did not account for population growth in Sussex County, the state’s fastest-growing. Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker (R) said, “Our constituents in Sussex County are way underrepresented … It’s not fair to the senators in those districts and it’s not fair to the staffing we have to represent those districts.”

SB 199 faced no debate in the House of Representatives, where members voted 40-1 in favor with state Rep. Michael Smith (R) voting against.

Democrats currently control both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly with a 14-7 majority in the Senate and a 26-15 majority in the House.

Since Delaware was apportioned a single at-large U.S. House seat, it will not conduct congressional redistricting during the 2020 cycle.

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Voters in Dover to decide city council special election on Nov. 16

The city of Dover, D.E., is holding a nonpartisan special election for District 1 on the city council on Nov. 16. The filing deadline for this election was Nov. 1.

Julia Pillsbury and Brandy Walker are running in the special election. The special election was called after Matthew Lindell resigned from his seat on the nine-seat city council after deciding to move from the district. Lindell served from 2017 to 2021.

Dover is the capital city of Delaware and the second-largest city in the state. It had an estimated population of 39,403 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.

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Filing deadline approaches for special city council election in Dover, Del.

Candidates interested in running in the special election for the District 1 seat of the Dover City Council in Delaware have until Nov. 1 to file. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 16. No primary election was scheduled.

The special election was called after Matthew Lindell resigned from his seat on the nine-seat city council after deciding to move from the district. Lindell served from 2017 to 2021.

Dover is the capital city of Delaware. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.

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Delaware, Maine, New Jersey end face-covering requirements

Three states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between May 21 and May 28.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) ended the statewide indoor mask requirement May 24. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said businesses could require people to show proof of vaccination, but “the state of Maine is not going to enforce this idea of different policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, nor do we expect businesses to do so.” The state recommended unvaccinated people continue masking in indoor public spaces. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still had to wear masks in schools and childcare centers, on public transportation, and in health care settings.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) lifted the state’s indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated people on May 28. Masks will still be required in state offices open to the public, schools and childcare centers, on public transportation, and in health care settings. The six-foot social distancing requirement ended on the same day. Dance floors and standing service at bars and restaurants will also be permitted.

Delaware Gov. Jay Carney (D) signed an order on May 18 ending the statewide mask requirement, effective May 21. Carney said masks were still required in state offices open to the public, schools and childcare centers, on public transportation, and in health care settings. The order also strongly encouraged unvaccinated individuals to continue wearing masks in indoor businesses and public settings in compliance with CDC guidelines at the time.

Additionally, Hawaii lifted its outdoor mask requirements and New York lifted mask requirements for children ages two through five. Washington amended its existing mask orders to align with the CDC guidance issued May 13, exempting fully vaccinated individuals from most indoor mask requirements. 

Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Seventeen states had statewide mask orders as of May 28, including 13 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and four out of the 27 states with Republican governors. 

Of the 22 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 12 have Republican governors, and ten have Democratic governors. Nineteen states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



In four states, no state or federal officials have tested positive for COVID-19

Between the start of the coronavirus pandemic and March 18, 2021, no elected or appointed state or federal officials announced positive COVID-19 test results in four states—Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, and Vermont. In the 46 other states, Ballotpedia has identified at least one COVID-19 positive state or federal official within our coverage scope. State and federal officials include members of Congress, state legislators, and state executive officeholders.

The first COVID-19 positive state officials identified by Ballotpedia were New York state Reps. Helene Weinstein (D) and Charles Barron (D), who announced positive test results on March 14, 2020. The first members of Congress to test positive were Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl.), who made their announcements March 18.

Since then, Ballotpedia has identified 215 candidates and officials diagnosed with COVID-19 at the state level, and 69 candidates and officials with COVID-19 at the federal level.

The state with the highest number of publicly identified COVID-19 state and federal officials is Pennsylvania, where two U.S. House members, the governor, and 17 members of the state legislature have tested positive since March 2020.

To read more about federal, state, and local officials and candidates affected by COVID-19, click the link below.