By Kim Manahan (Whetstone Staff Writer)

Additional reporting by Ashley Peard (Whetstone Staff Writer)

Democrat Chris Coons won Delaware’s hotly contested Senate seat, despite his opponent Republican Christine O’Donnell gaining majorities in both Kent and Sussex County.

When districts started reporting around 8 p.m., Coons held a 30 percent lead over O’Donnell.

The lead narrowed to a 17 percent difference when it was all over.

“Delawareans have hired me to go to Washington and work as hard as I can to get us back to work, to fix the economy, to make progress in restoring competitiveness and restart manufacturing in Delaware,” Coon said.

O’Donnell told her supporters to be encouraged.

“We have won, because the Delaware political system will never be the same,” she said.

Nearly half of all independents and 61 percent of women voted for Coons, according to CNN Exit Polls.

Delaware had a 49 percent voter turnout, according to

The Democrats remain in control of the Senate, but the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, winning 239 of 435 seats.

Democrat John Carney won Delaware’s lone congressional seat, garnering 56.8 percent of the vote over Republican challenger Glen Urquhart.

Coons and O’Donnell both campaigned for the seat previously held by now Vice President Joe Biden.

Both delivered speeches at Wesley College two weeks before the election,.

Focusing mostly on the economy, both candidates agreed that a change needed to be made, but in different ways.

“I intend to help pass a bill that would keep certain tax cuts from expiring in January,” Coons said while at Wesley on Oct. 26.

O’Donnell gained supporters in southern Delaware by saying that she will get rid of the “death tax” – the federal tax on an estate after its owner’s death – while Coons used his experience as New Castle County Executive to shape his arguments.

Coons addressed public transportation at Wesley. He said that he supports extending the Amtrak service in Delaware, and plans to use it to commute to Washington.

“I want to expand the light rail to places like Middletown and Dover,” Coons said.

O’Donnell said it was a state issue.

“We can only hope and pray [Coons] chooses to go against his party leadership and choose to do what’s right for the people of Delaware,” O’Donnell said in her concession speech.

“I just got off the phone with my opponent, and I reminded him that he is now in a position to help the people in Delaware who are suffering.”

O’Donnell won 57 percent of Sussex County and 51 percent of Kent.

Coons won 66 percent of New Castle County, with over 123,000 votes.