Posted: Nov. 5, 2013


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

In the state Senate, it is as if there was no Ronald Reagan. No 16 years of Republican governors with Pete du Pont and Mike Castle. No Newt Gringrich and the Republican revolution of 1994.

No matter what surge lifted the Republicans to political triumph, it foundered at the Senate.

The Democrats have controlled the upper chamber in the Delaware General Assembly for 40 years. It began with an act of treachery in 1973, when two Republican senators conspired to switch their allegiance to the other side, and the Democratic majority has been impregnable ever after.

There have not been such one-sided ramifications arising from a reviled act since Babe Ruth was sent to the New York Yankees in 1919. The losing side just kept paying for it.

Now another election is a year away, and frankly, history looks as ready as ever to repeat itself.

The Senate Democrats currently outnumber the Republicans by 13-8. Roughly half of of the members -- 10 of the 21 senators -- are up for election in 2014, and leaders on both sides of the aisle expect their full complements to be running again, even though five of the senators will be older than 65 on Election Day.

The Senate may be aging, but it is not retiring.

It would be nothing new if the next Senate looked the same as this Senate, because it has happened before. The chamber went from 2002 to 2008 without altering its roll call.

Furthermore, all of the senators, except one, are coming off campaigns they won solidly with at least 55 percent of the vote. The exception is Greg Lavelle, the Republican minority whip, and there were special circumstances. He took out a sitting Democratic senator.

Not just history could repeat itself. So could the Senate.

District Senator Party Age on Election Day Legislative tenure on Election Day Status

Senate 2nd

Wilmington-Wilmington Manor

Margaret Rose Henry D 70 20 years Running

Senate 3rd


Bob Marshall D 68 36 years Running

Senate 4th

Greenville-Brandywine Hundred-Pike Creek Valley

Greg Lavelle R 51 14 years Running

Senate 6th

Lewes-Rehoboth Beach-Dewey-Milton

Ernie Lopez R 37 2 years Running

Senate 10th


Bethany Hall-Long D 50 12 years Running

Senate 11th


Bryan Townsend D 33 2 years Running

Senate 16th

Little Creek-Dover AFB-Frederica

Colin Bonini R 49 20 years Running for re-election or treasurer or both?

Senate 17th


Brian Bushweller D 69 6 years Running

Senate 18th

Milford-Harrington-Greenwood-Slaughter Beach

Gary Simpson R 67 16 years Running

Senate 21st


Bob Venables D 81 28 years Running