When Lisa Blunt Rochester was a staffer for then-Congressman Tom Carper of Delaware, she remembers him encouraging her to run for mayor. Little did he know that she would end up running to take on his new job as Senator.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m the congressman,’” Carper told Business Insider. “And she said, ‘Well, I want your job.’ I said, ‘Like, Right now?’ She said, ‘Eventually.’”
Carper is now headed to retirement after announcing he would not run for reelection when his term ends in 2025. He is now endorsing Blunt Rochester as his successor.
“You’ve been patient, waiting for me to get out of the way, and I’m going to get out of the way,” Carper recalls telling her.
His endorsement means he is placing his efforts on diversifying the pool of Senators on the Hill. “He used his power and status to promote a Black woman leader as his successor in the United States Senate – and made that fact an indelible part of his legacy,” Aimee Allison, founder of She The People, told Business Insider. “More elected leaders should follow his example.
Although she has not made an official announcement, Blunt Rochester says she is interested in the seat. As it stands, the Congresswoman is Delaware’s first female and first Black member of Congress.
Other Democrats have also expressed their support for her candidacy. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said “he believes she could be a really good Senator and he looks forward to sitting down with her soon.”
Carper said he also told her he wants her to run and he hopes she will allow him to endorse her. “And she said, ‘Yes, I will let you support me,’” he said with a laugh.
For the past 23 years, Democrats have won every Senate race in Delaware, President Joe Biden’s home state, which he represented in the Senate for 36 years. Blunt Rochester could also be the first Black female senator since Kamala Harris left the Senate to become vice president,” according to Business Insider.
As Congresswoman, Blunt Rochester concentrates on economic and future of work-related issues and serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee. She began her professional trajectory as an intern for Carper before becoming an advisor and was his deputy secretary and labor secretary when he was governor. When she decided to run for office and won, she said part of her decision to serve was because of her great-great-great-grandfather, who was a slave but was allowed to vote during the Reconstruction Era.
“This represents where we’ve come from,” she said at the time. “We have the right to stand up. We have the right to serve.”