Posted: Jan. 9, 2012; updated: Jan. 10, 2012


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Forty years and a score of elections ago, the Republicans last had a majority in the state Senate.

Now it is finally conceivable they could get there again in 2012 or in an election shortly thereafter. Conceivable.

Nothing in politics should ever be taken for granted, particularly while discussing a party that just kissed away a U.S. Senate seat. Mike Castle was the safest assumption since the unsinkable Titanic set sail. Oh well.

The Democrats currently outnumber the Republicans in the 21-member Senate by 14-7. All senators are up for election this year because of redistricting. Here is a "Clip & Save" chart showing how the Republicans can get to 11 seats in five not-so-easy steps and the Democrats can perish from the majority.


1. Sorenson has to beat Sokola.

Redistricting combined Dave Sokola, a Democratic senator, and Liane Sorenson, the Republican minority whip, in a single Hockessin-Newark seat. Although the registration leans Democratic, the district is more hers than his. A hold for Sorenson would leave: 7 Republicans

2. Lavelle needs to take out Katz.

Greg Lavelle, the House Republican minority leader, saw his seat disappear in redistricting. He told his colleagues on the first day of the 2012 legislative session he would run for the Senate against Mike Katz, a first-term Democratic senator, in a Greenville-Brandywine Hundred district where the registration favors the Republicans. A pickup by Lavelle would mean: 8 Republicans

3. The Republicans have to win a new district in Sussex County.

Sussex is the Republicans' best county, so they are favored to win this open seat at the beach, that is, if they do not self-destruct because of a primary between Ernie Lopez, a party regular, and Glen Urquhart, a tea partier. The Democrats appear settled with Andy Staton. This could be where the Republicans' dream of a majority goes to die. If not, it would mean a pickup for: 9 Republicans

4. Bunting has to retire.

George Bunting, a Democratic senator, will be 67 on Election Day. Whenever he retires, his Sussex district is expected to go Republican, most likely to Gerald Hocker, the House Republican minority whip. A pickup would be: 10 Republicans

5. Venables has to retire, too.

The retirement watch is also on for Venables, a Democratic senator who is about to celebrate his 79th birthday. When the time comes, the Republicans expect to see one of their own in this Sussex seat, probably Dan Short, a representative who used to be the mayor of Seaford. A pickup would lead to the magic number: 11 Republicans