Posted: July 21, 2009


Numbers bring into focus the special election set for Monday, August 3, in the 19th Senatorial District in Western Sussex County.

ZERO Sussex County women have been elected to the state Senate.

If Polly Adams Mervine wins, she will be the first. Ruth Ann Minner, the former Democratic governor, came close. She was born in Sussex County, but she lived on the Kent County side of Milford when she was a state senator, representing a district that spanned Kent County and Sussex County.

ONE person only has been the senator from the district.

That would be Thurman Adams, the Democrat who represented it for 36 years until his death last month. The district was created for the 1972 election after a flurry of redistricting.

TWO votes were needed by the Sussex County Democrats to get a candidate.

Mervine lost her first try for the nomination to Eddy Parker, but her late father's legislative colleagues would not let it stand. Parker withdrew. He knew he would be doomed without unified backing. The Sussex Democrats met again. It was not pretty, but this time Mervine pulled it out.

THREE of Joe Booth's fellow Republican representatives have parts of the senatorial district.

The district engulfs chunks of four House districts, all represented by Republicans -- Booth, George Carey, Dan Short and Dave Wilson. It shows that the voters, who were so loyal to Adams for all those years, do not care about their legislators' party affiliation, but only their politics. They had better be conservative.

FOUR candidates will be on the ballot.

Mervine is listed before Booth, because the Democratic Party is older than the Republican Party and always gets the first spot. Then the minor parties come in alphabetical order. The Independent Party of Delaware is running Matt Opaliski, who is actually a registered Republican, and the Libertarians have Wendy Jones.

FIVE sitting legislators won special elections to follow family members.

As Adams' daughter, Mervine will make it six if she wins. The Senate has Democrat Nancy Cook (elected 1974) and Republicans Dori Connor (1997) and Cathy Cloutier (1998), and the House of Representatives has Democrat Hazel Plant (2001) and Republican Biff Lee (1990), for a current tally of four widows and one son.

SIX Republicans will be in the Senate if Booth wins.

The Republicans were left with only five of the 21 senators after the 2008 election. If Booth gets there, he may add to the party's morale but not clout.

SEVEN special elections will be held since the 2006 election if Booth wins.

The Delaware General Assembly of late has had a plague of extra elections, and there will have to be another one to replace Booth in the House if he moves to the Senate. The legislature had only one special election from the end of 1997 to the beginning of 2007, but it has been on a breakneck pace since. Three resignations, two deaths and one elevation to the Senate have accounted for six so far, including the one to replace Adams.

EIGHT-day campaign finance reports are due July 28.

Candidates have to file their contributions and expenditures eight days before the election. The money can have a lot to say about who wins.

NINE women will be in the Senate if Mervine wins.

There would be six Democratic and three Republican women out of 21 senators. Practically parity.