John Charles Carney Jr. (born May 20, 1956) is an American politician serving as the 74th governor of Delaware since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Carney served as the U.S. representative for Delaware’s at-large congressional district from 2011 to 2017 and as the 24th lieutenant governor of Delaware from 2001 to 2009. He also served as Delaware’s secretary of finance from 1996 to 2000.[1] He first unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2008, losing to Jack Markell. He ran for governor again in 2016 and won, succeeding Markell, who was term-limited. He was reelected in 2020, defeating Republican Julianne Murray with 59.5% of the vote.

Early life and education

Carney was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and raised in Claymont, the second of nine children of Ann Marie (née Buckley) and John Charles “Jack” Carney (1925-2014).[2] Both his parents were educators.[3] His great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland.[4] Carney was quarterback of the 1973 state championship St. Mark’s High School football team, and earned All-Ivy League and Most Valuable Player honors in football at Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1978. At Dartmouth, he joined the local Beta Alpha Omega fraternity. He later coached freshman football at the University of Delaware while earning his master’s degree in public administration.[5][6]

Political career

Carney giving a speech, 2005

Carney served as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of New Castle County and as Secretary of Finance and Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Tom Carper. He was elected lieutenant governor of Delaware in 2000 and served from January 16, 2001, until January 20, 2009. As lieutenant governor, he presided over the Delaware State Senate and chaired the Board of Pardons. He also chaired the Delaware Health Care Commission, the Interagency Council on Adult Literacy, the Criminal Justice Council, the Center for Education Technology, and the Livable Delaware Advisory Council. In 2002 he launched the education initiative “Models of Excellence in Education” to identify practices in schools that have raised student achievement. Carney was also selected by other lieutenant governors to chair the National Lieutenant Governors Association from July 2004 to July 2005.

Carney has long been an advocate for wellness issues in Delaware, sponsoring “BeHealthy Delaware” and “The Lt. Governor’s Challenge” to encourage Delawareans to be more active and address the state’s high rate of chronic disease.[citation needed] He fought for Delaware’s public smoking ban to improve health, cut cancer rates, and discourage teens from starting to smoke.[citation needed]

After completing his tenure as lieutenant governor in 2009, Carney served as president and chief operating officer of Transformative Technologies, which is investing in the DelaWind project, to bring offshore wind turbine construction to Delaware.[7] He planned to step down in early 2010 to concentrate on his U.S. House campaign.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives

Carney during the 112th Congress

Carney was the Democratic nominee for Delaware’s at-large seat in the United States House of Representatives in 2010. He faced Republican Glen Urquhart, Independent Party of Delaware nominee Earl R. Lofland, Libertarian Brent A. Wangen, and Blue Enigma Party nominee Jeffrey Brown. The seat had been held since 1993 by Republican Michael Castle, who declined to seek reelection to the House in order to run for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. In the first week of October, Fairleigh Dickinson University‘s PublicMind Poll released the results of its opinion research, showing Carney with a 15-point advantage over Urquhart, 51%-36%.[9] Days before the election, a second Fairleigh Dickinson poll showed Carney leading by 17 points, 53% to 36% among likely voters.[10] Carney won the seat by 16 points, 57%-41%, and took office on January 3, 2011. His victory was one of the three seats Democrats gained in a year when they lost a net 63 seats to the Republicans.

In his bid for a second term in 2012, Carney faced Republican Tom Kovach, the president of the New Castle County Council, and two minor candidates. In a debate with Kovach, Carney said, “I will continue to do in Washington what I did in Delaware: work across the aisle to get things done. I learned early on that compromise is part of life.” Carney called the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) “not perfect” but the “only chance we have to get costs under control”.[11] He was reelected in a landslide, with 64% of the vote to Kovach’s 33%. Carney ran for reelection to a third term in 2014. He defeated Republican Rose Izzo, 59% to 37%, with Green nominee Bernie August and Libertarian Scott Gesty taking 2% each.

In 2011, Carney and Illinois Republican Aaron Schock co-sponsored a bill that would use U.S. oil exploration to help fund a five-year federal highway construction project.[12][13]

On April 7, 2014, Carney introduced the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014 (H.R. 4414; 113th Congress) into the House.[14] The bill would exempt expatriate health care plans from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.[15] Carney argued that expatriates, a group that includes businessmen, pilots, and ship captains, usually already have special, high-quality health care plans designed to meet their unique needs.[15] He said that “expatriate health insurance plans offer high-end, robust coverage to executives and others working outside their home country, giving them access to a global network of health care providers.”[15] He indicated that requiring American expatriate health care providers to meet the Affordable Care Act’s tax and reporting requirements would put them at an unfair competitive disadvantage in comparison to foreign companies offering similar health care plans.[15]

Carney has served on the Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Governor of Delaware

Carney at a campaign event, June 23, 2008

Carney sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2008, as incumbent Governor Ruth Ann Minner was constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. Despite the backing of most of the party establishment, he lost the primary in an upset by fewer than 2,000 votes to State Treasurer Jack Markell, who went on to win the general election.[16] Carney sought the Democratic nomination for governor again in 2016, as Markell was constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. Carney won the Democratic primary unopposed and went on to win the general election.[17] He won a second term in 2020, defeating Republican Julianne Murray in a landslide in the general election, with 59.5% of the vote compared to her 38.6%.

On July 12, 2017, after signing Executive Order 11 to reestablish the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, Carney said, “The Juvenile Justice Advisory Group will help us create an environment where all Delaware kids have an opportunity to succeed. This Executive Order will recharge and reenergize the group to find solutions that will work.”[18] On July 20, he vetoed a Delaware House of Representatives bill removing the five-mile radius of Delaware charter schools with enrollment preference and keeping out students in Wilmington, charging it with negatively impacting “some of our most vulnerable students.”[19]

On October 13, 2017, in response to President Donald Trump‘s ending cost-sharing reductions within the American health care system, Carney said the choice would lead to “more people being uninsured in our state, which eventually means increased premiums for all of us” and pledged he would work with the state congressional delegation to return the cost-sharing reductions.[20]

In April 2019, Carney pardoned Barry Croft, a Bear resident who had served a three-year sentence for possessing a gun during the commission of a felony. In October 2020, Croft was arrested and federally charged for his involvement in a kidnapping plot against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The day after Croft’s arrest, Carney confirmed the pardon, called the federal charges “disturbing”, and said, “This is also another warning sign about the growing threat of violence and radicalization in our politics.”[21][22]

On March 12, 2020, one day after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the state, Carney declared a State of Emergency in Delaware due to a public health threat.[23] He issued a series of declarations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Delaware.[24]

On May 24, 2022, Carney vetoed a bill to legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational use, incurring the wrath of fellow Democrats who have fought for years to make cannabis legal.[25]

In June 2022, Carney signed six gun safety bills into law, including an assault weapons ban.[26]

On April 21, 2023, Carney said he would not veto a bill legalizing possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, which led to cannabis effectively becoming legalized in Delaware on April 23 after a bill passed without Carney’s signature.[27]

2024 Wilmington mayoral campaign

On April 29, 2024, after months of “seriously considering” a run, Carney announced his candidacy for mayor of Wilmington in 2024, challenging former City Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter in the September Democratic primary. Carney and Jones-Potter are both seeking to succeed retiring mayor Mike Purzycki.[28]

Personal life

Carney married Tracey Quillen, daughter of Delaware Secretary of State William T. Quillen, on June 5, 1993.[29] They have two children, Sam and Jimmy, who attended Wilmington Friends School. Sam Carney graduated from Clemson University, while Jimmy is a computer science major at Tufts University.[30] In 2015 Sam Carney was named as one of a number of defendants in two separate lawsuits filed by the parents of Tucker Hipps, whose 2014 death allegedly occurred during a fraternity hazing incident.[31][32] The lawsuit was settled in July 2017.[33][34] Criminal charges have never been filed in the case despite there being no statute of limitations in South Carolina.

Carney’s nephew is Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill.

Carney is Roman Catholic.[35]

Electoral history

Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. The lieutenant governor takes office the third Tuesday of January with a four-year term. U.S. Representatives take office January 3 and have a two-year term.

Public offices
Lieutenant GovernorExecutiveDoverJanuary 16, 2001 –
January 18, 2005
Lieutenant GovernorExecutiveDoverJanuary 18, 2005 –
January 20, 2009
Election results
2000Lt. GovernorGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic193,34862%Dennis J. RochfordRepublican119,94338%
2004Lt. GovernorGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic218,27262%James P. UrsomarsoRepublican127,42536%
2008GovernorPrimaryJohn CarneyDemocratic36,11249%Jack MarkellDemocratic37,84951%
2010U.S. House of RepresentativesGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic173,44357%Glen UrquhartRepublican125,40841%
2012U.S. House of RepresentativesGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic249,90564%Tom KovachRepublican129,74933%
2014U.S. House of RepresentativesGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic137,25159%Rose IzzoRepublican85,14637%
2016GovernorGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic248,40458%Colin BoniniRepublican166,85239%
2020GovernorGeneralJohn CarneyDemocratic292,90359%Julianne MurrayRepublican190,31239%


  1. ^ “List of Secretaries of Finance 1970-present” (PDF). Government of Delaware. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  2. ^ “Obituary for Jack Carney Sr”.
  3. ^ “About Governor John Carney”. Governor John Carney – State of Delaware. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  4. ^ “John Carney ancestry”. Archived from the original on June 16, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  5. ^ “John Carney Jr.)”. AP Election Guide. National Public radio. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  6. ^ “MPA alumnus John Carney, is Delaware’s Congressman-elect to U.S. House of Representatives”. University of Delaware School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. Archived from the original on July 31, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  7. ^ “Sussex Countian, 1/8/09: “Carney to join energy firm after leaving office”.
  8. ^ “TommyWonk”. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  9. ^ “Poll: Dem leads Republican in open Del. House seat,” Huffington Post, Oct. 5, 2010.
  10. ^ “Rare Pickup in House for Democrats,” Fairleigh Dickinson’s PublicMind Poll, Oct. 29, 2010.
  11. ^ Mace, Ben (October 16, 2012). “Citizens protest; Pires calls Carper corrupt, unfit at Delaware debates”. The Dover Post. Dover, DE. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  12. ^ “Lawmakers push for six-year highway bill”. The Hill. December 7, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  13. ^ “Schock gathering support for highway bill”. Journal Star. January 17, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  14. ^ “H.R. 4414 – Summary”. United States Congress. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d Kasperowicz, Pete (April 8, 2014). “House to pass new, bipartisan ObamaCare tweak”. The Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  16. ^ “ – Breaking News – Latest News – Current News”. Fox News. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  17. ^ “The New York Times – Breaking News – Latest News – Current News”. The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  18. ^ “Governor Carney Signs Executive Order Reestablishing the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG)”. July 12, 2017.
  19. ^ “Governor Carney Vetoes 5-Mile Radius Legislation that Limits Options for Wilmington Students”. July 20, 2017.
  20. ^ “Governor Carney’s Statement on President Trump’s Decision to End Health Care Cost-Sharing Reductions”. October 13, 2017.
  21. ^ “Delaware man accused in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pardoned by Gov. Carney in 2019”. KSAZ-TV. October 9, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Parra, Esteban; Wilson, Xerxes (October 9, 2020). “Delaware man charged in Michigan governor kidnap plot was pardoned by Carney last year”. Delaware Online. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  23. ^ “Declaration of a State of Emergency (2020)”. Government of Delaware Office of the Governor. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  24. ^ “COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”. Government of Delaware Office of the Governor. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  25. ^ “Recreational weed to become legal in Delaware on Sunday as Carney decides not to veto”.
  26. ^ “Delaware Gov. Carney Signs 6 Gun Safety Bills, Including Ban On Assault Weapon Sales”. CBS News. June 30, 2022. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  27. ^ “Recreational weed to become legal in Delaware on Sunday as Carney decides not to veto”. April 21, 2022.
  28. ^ Mueller, Sarah (April 29, 2024). “Delaware Gov. John Carney announces Wilmington mayoral run”. WHYY-TV. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  29. ^ “Weddings: John Carney Jr. and Tracey Quillen”. The New York Times. June 6, 1993. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  30. ^ “Congressman John Carney- Full Biography”. Wboc Tv. WBOC 16. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  31. ^ “Congressman’s son named in hazing-death lawsuit”. USA Today. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  32. ^ “Rep. Carney’s son named in hazing death lawsuit”. delawareonline. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  33. ^ “Tucker Hipps’ parents settle lawsuit against Clemson, fraternity, 3 members”. WYFF. August 3, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  34. ^ “Carney settles lawsuit with Hipps family”. Delaware State News. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  35. ^ “THE RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION OF EACH MEMBER OF CONGRESS” (PDF). Pew Research Center. 2012. p. 3.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by

Sarah Jackson
Secretary of Finance of Delaware
Succeeded by

David W. Singleton
Political offices
Preceded by

Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Governor of Delaware
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware’s at-large congressional district

Succeeded by

Party political offices
Preceded by

Democratic nominee for Governor of Delaware
2016, 2020
Most recent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

as Vice President

Order of precedence of the United States
Within Delaware
Succeeded by

Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by

Otherwise Mike Johnson

as Speaker of the House

Preceded by

as United States Senator of California

Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Delaware
Succeeded by

as Governor of Pennsylvania