Updated May 22, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Top Dems push Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester to run for Senate

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

Top Senate Democrats are mounting a concerted effort to get Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) to run for retiring Sen. Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) Senate seat in 2024.

Why it matters: The state’s lone House member since 2016, Blunt Rochester would be the first woman and first African American to represent the state in the Senate.

  • A swift effort to elevate Blunt Rochester could also head off a potentially bruising competitive Democratic primary in President Biden’s home state.

Driving the news: Carper said at a press conference in Wilmington, Del., on Monday that he will retire rather than seek a fifth term in the Senate.

  • “This seems like a good time just to turn the page and move on," the 76-year-old Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chair and former governor said.
  • His decision marks the first time the solidly Democratic state will have an open Senate seat since Biden left for the vice presidency in 2009.

What we’re watching: Carper said he is supporting Blunt Rochester, who served as his congressional intern and in several cabinet roles when he was governor, to fill his seat.

  • “We love Lisa, and I spoke with her this morning,” Carper said, “I said, ‘You’ve been patient, waiting for me to get out of the way. And I’m going to get out of the way.’”
  • Carper said he told Blunt Rochester “I hope you run and I hope you’ll let me support you in that mission,” and that she replied, “Yes, I will let you support me.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Rochester shortly after learning of Carper’s plans and “told her he believes she could be a really good Senator,” according to his spokesperson.

What she’s saying: Blunt Rochester released a statement from her congressional office lauding Carper for “work[ing] tirelessly every single day to make [Delaware] a better place.”

  • Spokesperson Andrew Donnelly signaled she won’t immediately make her electoral intentions clear, telling Axios that statement would be the only one Rochester releases on Monday.
  • She said at a Punchbowl News event earlier this month that “should the opportunity present itself, I’m interested.”

The big picture: A coronation for Blunt Rochester would stand in stark contrast with California and Maryland, where crowded fields of high-profile Democrats are fighting it out to replace longtime senators.

Go deeper