Posted: Sept. 27, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The timing of the resignation from state Sen. James T. Vaughn Sr. on Wednesday morning could not have been better for his fellow Democrats, who were able to settle within hours on state Rep. Bruce C. Ennis as their candidate for the special election.

Ennis was the obvious choice, so Democratic Party leaders took advantage of a meeting they happened to have scheduled, anyway, Wednesday evening at their state headquarters near New Castle to make it official.

"I have known and worked with Sen. Vaughn in a variety of capacities for many years," Ennis said in a press release. "I hope the voters will see fit to let me serve them for the remainder of his term."

Like Vaughn, Ennis is a former state trooper who comes from the Kent County side of the 14th Senatorial District, which stretches from Delaware City in New Castle County to Pickering Beach in Kent County.

Ennis, 68, of Smyrna, has been a legislator since 1982, arriving in the General Assembly two years after Vaughn. A steady legislative presence, Ennis was unopposed for re-election in 2004 and 2006 in the 28th Representative District, where the Democrats have a comfortable edge in registration. 

The quick action gives the Democrats a jump on the Republicans, a decided advantage in the abbreviated campaign that accompanies a resignation. The date of the special election has not been set yet, but it can come no more than 41 days after a vacancy. Vaughn's resignation for health reasons is effective Friday.

The Republicans are setting up a candidate search committee to be run by state Sen. Charles L. Copeland, the minority leader, with New Castle County Chair Kelly L. Gates and input from the party leadership in Kent County and the Colonial Region in lower New Castle County, according to Terry A. Strine, the Republican state chair.

"I would like to have a candidate in place by the middle of the next week, but it's more important to have the right candidate," Strine said.

Ennis does not have to resign to run for the Senate term, which will last until 2010. If he wins, there would have to be another special election to replace him in the state House of Representatives.

With the maximum effort that the political parties always expend on special elections, it could be an exhausting cascade of political dominoes.