Posted: June 2, 2016


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

There are worse years for the Delaware Republicans to try to take over the state Senate.

The voter registration gap is only widening against them in districts where they are concentrating their effort to take out Democratic state senators.

Better to go for it now. Better also to go for it in a loony election year when it looks like anything can happen, because so much already has.

Take presidential politics. It has about as much logic to it as Alice in Wonderland. If Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were swapped out for the Cheshire Cat, the Red Queen and the White Rabbit, would anyone notice?

The numbers in the state Senate races do not appear to add up for the Republicans, but just as Humpty Dumpty told Alice he could make words mean what he wants, the Republicans are calculating the numbers can mean something else, too.

"While the numbers don't look encouraging, what we see is the Democratic Party moving further to the left, and we're picking up conservative Democrats. They might either stay home and not vote, or vote for our candidates," said Gary Simpson, the state Senate's Republican minority leader.

The Republicans have been down so long in the state Senate, there is only one Delawarean left in elected office who can remember it otherwise, and it is Joe Biden, the human institution.

The Democrats have been in charge for 43 years, ever since two Republican state senators turned traitor to align themselves with the Democrats in 1973. The Democrats currently outnumber the Republicans in the 21-member chamber by 12-9.

A shift of two seats would flip control, and the Republicans have their sights set on four Democratic state senators, namely, Patti Blevins, who is the president pro tem, Harris McDowell, Dave Sokola and Bruce Ennis.


Democratic senator

Republican candidate

2012 Registration

2016 Registration


Senate 1st


Harris McDowell

James Spadola

D: 18,409

R:   7,794


D: 19,545

R:  6,854



Senate 7th

Elsmere-Prices Corner

Patti Blevins

Anthony Delcollo

D: 14,192

R:  7,189


D: 14,668

R:  7,091


D: +574

Senate 8th


Dave Sokola

Meredith Chapman

D: 9,956

R:  8,714


D: 10,299

R:  8,317


D: +740

Senate 14th

Lower New Castle/upper Kent counties

Bruce Ennis

Carl Pace

D: 14,087

R:  8,425


D: 15,400

R:  9,159


D: +579

All of them are in Democratic districts that are trending more Democratic, from one presidential election year to another.

"That's what gerrymandering will do for you," quipped Simpson, the minority leader.

The registration can be so lopsided that the Republican voters are not only outnumbered by the Democrats, but also by the voters unaffiliated with either major party:

Blevins: Democrat 49 percent, Republican 24 percent, other 28 percent

McDowell: Democrat 58 percent, Republican 20 percent, other 22 percent

Sokola: Democrat 40 percent, Republican 32 percent, other 28 percent

Ennis: Democrat 46 percent, Republican 28 percent, other 26 percent

The Democrats are not taking their numbers for granted.

"On paper, all the races look like the Democrats should win, but this is an unusual year. I can't tell about the Donald Trump effect, whether it's going to be good for the Democrats or bad for the Democrats," said Blevins, the pro tem.

"I've just given up on predicting."

In other words, the Democrats do not know if there is some Humpty Dumpty in the numbers, either, numbers that could mean something else and bring about a great fall?