Political opponents show unity at Return Day

By Tom Lehman 9:38pm, November 8, 2012 - Updated 3:06pm, November 9, 2012
WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
Political candidates who competed in Tuesday's election settled their differences by literally burying the hatchet during a 200-year-old tradition in Sussex County.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more:

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The winners and losers of Delaware's political races paraded side by side around the circle outside the Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown to celebrate Return Day, an event that marks the end of the campaign season.

The celebration involves the reading of the county's election result by the town's crier and former mayor, W. Layton Johnson. Members of the county's Republican, Democratic and third parties then bury a hatchet in sand to signify the end of campaign hostilities.

The gesture is important, says Democratic Congressman John Carney, who won reelection against Republican Tom Kovach on Tuesday.

"It's something that we need in the country, particularly after the contentious campaign that we've been through, given all the issues and challenges and problems we have," Carney says.

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Democratic Senator Tom Carper won reelection on Tuesday and says being able to walk alongside his opponent, Republican Kevin Wade, after the election makes the event special.

A last-minute mishap left Carper and Republican Kevin Wade without a carriage--the two walked side-by-side along the circle. The Senator, who was wearing a pin advertising for his Republican opponent, raised Wade's hand as if he had won the election.

"Today's one of those secrets to Delaware. When the elections are over we work together and set aside our differences and hopefully we'll do this for a long, long time. Too bad we can't have return day for the country," he says.

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The celebration is held every two years and honors how Sussex County residents would travel to County seat to vote and then return two days later to hear the results.

Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden appeared early at the event but did not participate in the parade or ceremonies.

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