Posted: Dec. 1, 2011
EARLY LINE 2012: LEGISLATIVE RACES
By Celia Cohen
There was one great truism in Delaware politics for decade upon decade. The state Senate was Democratic. The state House of Representatives was Republican.
It felt almost like a commandment.
Remember the state Senate, to keep it Democratic.
Thou shalt have no other majority but Republican in the state House.
Not that commandments are never broken. The Democrats were coveting the House. The Republicans did not really want to honor the Democratic majority in the Senate.
The first violation came in 2008 when the House flipped Democratic after 24 years and stayed that way in 2010. Actually, it was not much of surprise by the time it finally happened. The state's voter registration rolls were trending more and more Democratic over the years, until only two of the 41 representative districts today have more Republicans than Democrats living there.
Now, political miracle of miracles, the Senate conceivably is in play. For the first time in some 40 years, it has a chance to go Republican in the next election or so.
It seems counter-intuitive, with the statewide voter registration favoring the Democrats, but there are a couple of special circumstances.
One factor is Sussex County, where the voters like their politics conservative. A pair of districts there are expected to go Republican once their Democratic senators, ages 67 and 78, retire.
The other factor is the fallout from redistricting. The new maps mostly seemed to mirror the toxic vote for the Senate's Democratic president pro tem, with senators who voted for Tony DeLuca getting rewarded and senators who voted otherwise getting punished . . . for Tony DeLuca, the pro tem, is a jealous pro tem.
Going into the 2012 election, the Democrats control the Senate by 14-7 and the House by 26-15. After failing to re-take the House the last time, the Republicans are absolutely concentrating on the Senate, as shown by the races to watch.
Incumbents in bold