Posted: Dec. 1, 2011


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

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.

District Leading Democrats Leading Republicans Rundown
Senate 4th

northern New Castle County

Mike Katz Greg Lavelle? To flip the Senate, the Republicans need to win this district with its favorable registration. They need Lavelle, the House minority leader redistricted out of his seat, to run for it
Senate 8th

Hockessin-Pike Creek Valley

Dave Sokola Liane Sorenson Redistricting threw Sokola in with Sorenson, the minority whip. Registration leans his way, but it is essentially her old district
Senate 11th

south Newark-Glasgow

Tony DeLuca

Bryan Townsend

Evan Queitsch De Luca drew himself a nice little Democratic district, but the forces are marshaling against him, anyway
Senate 12th

New Castle-below the canal

  Dori Connor Connor is part of that endangered species, pro-labor Republicans, and she could be tested, running in some unfamiliar territory with the registration lopsidedly Democratic
Senate 6th


Andy Staton Ernie Lopez

Glen Urquhart

This is a new district that should go Republican, unless a primary gets the Republicans to do themselves in
Senate 20th

Bethany-Fenwick Island-Millsboro

George Howard Bunting   Whenever 67-year-old Bunting retires, the Republicans are ready to pounce
Senate 21st


Bob Venables   Ditto for the 78-year-old Venables
House 22nd

Hockessin-Pike Creek Valley

  Nick Manolakos

Joe Miro

Redistricting combined Manolakos and Miro in one of the last surviving Republican districts. May the best Republican win
House 11th

Southern New Castle County-northern Kent County

    A new district where both parties are trying to come to terms with its split county personality
House 20th


    Another new district

Incumbents in bold