Posted: June 12, 2014


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

As soon as the votes were counted on Election Day in 2012, it was all but inevitable that seven legislators would be in for a fight in 2014.

They were state representatives who were elected to the Delaware General Assembly with no more than 55 percent of the vote, a margin considered uncomfortably close, and sure enough, all of them find themselves challenged in 2014.

Three of them -- John Atkins, Trey Paradee and Dennis Williams -- are Democrats, and the other four -- Ruth Briggs King, Jack Peterman, Steve Smyk and Jeff Spiegelman -- are Republicans.

Their races form the core of the Dover Dozen, the top legislative races to watch at this point in the campaign season with the candidates' filing deadline less than a month away on July 8.

There are 10 out of 21 state senators up for election for four-year terms and all 41 state representatives up for two-year terms.

Whatever peril there is for individual legislators, the Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives look safe without enough competitive races to make a difference. The current breakdown:

Senate -- 13 Democrats and 8 Republicans

House of Representatives -- 27 Democrats and 14 Republicans



Senate 3rd


Bob Marshall

Sherry Dorsey Walker


D: 70%

R: 11%

O: 19%

In a classic veteran/new blood fight, Marshall is a 36-year senator, and Dorsey Walker is a first-term city councilwoman 

Senate 21st


Bob Venables Bryant Richardson

D: 40%

R: 38%

O: 22%

Any longtime legislator who is 81, as Venables is, gets challengers. Richardson is after him again, despite coming up a hefty 2,000 votes short in 2012

House 10th

Brandywine Hundred

Dennis Williams

Sean Matthews

Judy Travis

D: 44%

R: 32%

O: 24%

Williams always seems to be endangered, but he has managed to keep squeaking through elections since 2008

House 11th

Southern New Castle County/Northern Kent County

Lynne Newlin Jeff Spiegelman

D: 41%

R: 31%

O: 28%

This rematch was probably inevitable, since Spiegelman won an open race the last time by 210 votes

House 15th

Bear-Delaware City


Valerie Longhurst

James Burton

Matt Lenzini

D: 53%

R: 23%

O: 24%

As Eric Cantor showed in D.C., it is open season on House majority leaders, and Longhurst is a lightning rod

House 20th


Marie Mayor Steve Smyk

D: 39%

R: 36%

O: 25%

Mayor was just not ready to give up, after Smyk defeated her in an open race with 53 percent of the vote in 2012

House 29th


Trey Paradee Pete Kramer

D: 44%

R: 32%

O: 24%

Paradee ousted a sitting Republican representative the last time, and the Republicans want to turn the tables

House 30th


Jonathan Gallo Bob Outten

D: 36%

R: 35%

O: 29%

The Democrats plan to make this district a battleground

House 31st


Sean Lynn

Ralph Taylor

Sam Chick

D: 52%

R: 24%

O: 24%

With Darryl Scott, a three-term Democrat, calling it quits, this is the only open legislative seat. No surprise it attracted a crowd

House 33rd


Kevin Robbins Jack Peterman

D: 39%

R: 34%

O: 27%

Peterman polled a slim 53 percent of the vote against Robbins in 2012. This is definitely a rematch to watch

House 37th

Georgetown-Long Neck

Paulette Rappa Ruth Briggs King

D: 40%

R: 37%

O: 23%

The Democrats likely had their best shot at unseating Briggs King in 2012, when she ran in a newly drawn district to poll 55 percent of the vote 

House 41st


John Atkins Rich Collins

D: 41%

R: 38%

O: 21%

Another election season, another soap opera for Atkins. Not good, since this is a rematch of a race Atkins won by a mere 69 votes

Incumbents in bold