The Delaware Senate [2012]

Filed in National by on March 14, 2012

Now onto the Senate. The Senate currently stands at 14 Democrats and 7 Republicans. The GOP would need to pickup 4 seats to gain of majority of 11. You saw how Speaker Gilligan handled redistricting in the House. He protected and sought to expand the Democratic majority. In the Senate, Tony Deluca has placed it in jeopardy, so much so that it is now a 50-50 bet as to whether the Republicans win back the Senate in the fall.

First, some backstory. Senator Mike Katz (D-4th SD) ran against Tony Deluca for the Senate President Pro Tem position. Dave Sokola voted for Katz. Deluca ended up winning. But rather than be magnanimous in his victory, Tony Deluca chose to exact revenge. In shipping the 6th District downstate, he placed the incumbent of that district, Liane Sorenson, in Dave Sokola’s 8th SD. Sorenson is perhaps the last moderate Republican in the state and will be hard for Sokola to defeat. He may well win, but the seat is now in jeopardy.

In the 4th SD, Mike Katz was given more Republican territory to represent, and now has House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle (R) as his opponent. Deluca could have shored up Katz in what always was a competitive district. Instead, he made it harder.

Now, you might be asking what is the big deal? It is only two seats, and even if the Dems lose those 2 seats, they still have a majority of 2 with an excellent opportunity to pick up the new 6th SD downstate. That’s true.

But then yesterday happened.

George Bunting and Bob Venables have been representing their downstate Sussex districts since God was a boy. They are both conservative Democrats representing very conservative territory. Everyone knew that the moment they both retired, those seats would become instant solid Republican pickup opportunities.

What did Deluca do with respect to Bunting’s district? He made it more conservative and more Republican. Now, Bunting voted for Katz too. So that move could be seen as vindictive as well. But, if Deluca knew Bunting was retiring, then it was a smart move, as making a district you are going to lose anyway more Republican while giving more Democratic areas to the new 6th making that new seat more competitive would be what I would do. What I would not do is make two districts upstate held by Democrats more conservative and competitive, while doing the same thing downstate. You shore up upstate and protect your members already in office while conceding the 20th downstate. That’s what you do.

So Senator George Bunting has announced his retirement. Is Venables next? I think so. The second shoe is quick to drop after the first. So how does this change the map and math?

First, the map, showing the new 2012 Senate districts. If a Democrat current holds the district, it is colored blue, if a Republican holds the district it is colored red, and if it is a new district, it is colored grey.

Here is the chart showing my estimation as to where the races for these seats stand. If I think the Democrat will hold the seat, it is colored blue. If I think a Republican will win, it is colored red, and if it is a tossup, it is colored yellow.

Bunting is retiring, and as you see, I expect a Republican to win that seat. The GOP needs 4 seats to win the majority, and that’s one.

As I said, I expect Venables to retire, and but since he has not announced it, I color his seat yellow. If he doesn’t retire, he will probably hold the seat, depending of course on who the GOP gets to run against him. If he does retire, it will be won by a Republican. The GOP needs 4 seats to win the majority, and that’s two.

Senator Marshall is retiring to run for Mayor of Wilmington. So now the 3rd SD is an open seat. Democrat Eric Anderson has already announced that he is running for the seat, but he hasn’t filed yet according to my research. Rep. Helene Keeley may also seek a promotion, so I have listed her on the chart. Democrat Tim Meades has also filed to run. This is a safe Democratic seat no matter what.

In the 11th SD, Tony Deluca himself has a primary race with Attorney Bryan Townsend, and Christine O’Donnell thug Evan Queitsch will seek the Republican nomination to face the winner of the Deluca-Townsend primary. Interestingly, Deluca has not filed to run for reelection yet. Wishful thinking: he will retire? I doubt it. Whomever wins the Democratic nomination, the winner will destroy Queitsch.

In the aforementioned 4th SD, incumbent Mike Katz will face off against House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle. I believe Katz is now the underdog in this race, and while I list this race as a tossup, Lavelle is well positioned to win. The GOP needs 4 seats to win the majority, and that’s three.

In the also aforementioned 8th SD, we have incumbents Dave Sokola (D) and Liane Sorenson (R) facing off. Sorenson is the type of Republican that can win upstate, and it will be a very competitive race. The GOP needs 4 seats to win the majority, and that’s four. THE GOP WINS CONTROL OF THE SENATE!!!

Wait, we still have two seats left to consider: the new 6th SD in Sussex County and Dori Connor’s 12th SD.

The 6th SD is a new open seat, and given the demographics, it will be a competitive race. Andy Staton is already running for the Democrats, and he has filed. Micheal Miller has stated that he will run, but has not filed yet. Ernie Lopez and failed 2010 Congressional nominee Glen Urquhart are running for the Republicans. Both have filed.

In the 12th SD, Dori Connor was given more Democratic territory to represent, and thus I have list her race as competitive accordingly. But it will depend on who runs against her. In the past, Dori has gone unchallenged. We will see if the Democrats put up someone credible. If they don’t, then control of the Senate comes down to the 6th.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Connor’s district was always strong D. However, you can’t beat somebody with nobody. As I’ve pointed out, as a caucus, the Senate D’s don’t believe in candidate recruitment. Their own districts are individual fiefdoms, and, as long as no one threatens their fiefdom, they could care less. Remember the fiasco after Uncle Thurm died?

    If Dori Connor has a credible D challenger, she loses. Will the caucus or the Party field someone?

    The Venables seat is not a toss-up. If Venables runs, he wins. If he doesn’t run, the R’s win.

  2. MJ says:

    Mike Miller is not a candidate in the 6th. Andy Staton is the only official candidate. My guess is that Miller can’t even afford the filing fee.

  3. jpconnorjr says:

    Geek has an email with info in it.

  4. Your thoughts? says:

    I say if it comes down to a 11-10 D controlled Senate after the election, dont be surprised if Venables doesnt flip parties with a guarenteed Bond Bill Chair position. Vaughn, Adams, Cook, and now Bunting gone. Nothing to hold him from doing it?

  5. auntie dem says:

    The thought of the State Senate becoming ground zero for the Koch Brothers and ALEC in Delaware is just to awful to contemplate.

  6. Delaware Dem says:

    @yourthoughts– I think since he is the last one standing he will retire, but I guess a party switch is possible. Hell, do it now and save us all the indigestion.

  7. Geezer says:

    DD: No sense in doing it until it matters.

  8. Delaware Dem says:

    Well, if he is honorable, he will do it now. That way we all know the stakes in the 4th, 6th, 8th and 12th.

  9. MJ says:

    Got it JP. Sent the person a message.

  10. Free Market Democrat says:

    The newly redrawn 5th Senate District is 39.9% Democratic (up from 39.6%). Not much of an improvement, but the turnout in the new EDs in the 5th SD is much, much higher. The 5th SD is definitely up for grabs and Sen. Cloutier is extremely vulnerable.

  11. anon says:

    Katz will win if he runs his race against a GOP controlled state senate. Lavelle will be popular in Greenville, but the idea that the state senate could end up being right wing nut job central will be enough to send Greenville women to the polls for Katz.

  12. I was in Dover yesterday. Heard that the Bunting announcement was big: unexpected and caused a huge uproar.

    It didn’t look like Venables is going anywhere, btw.

  13. MJ says:

    Venables has said he is running again. All we need to do is hold up a picture of St. Bodie Girl and Urkel and tell people that they’ll be calling the shots and that will get D’s out to vote for Katz.

  14. liberalgeek says:

    There have been half-hearted suggestions that Dori won’t run. No one with inside info, just a gut feeling.

  15. Why wouldn’t she run if no one runs against her? I’ve heard that she’s asked her labor supporters for one more term. She can’t win in that district w/o wholehearted labor support. She may not even be able to win with it.

    Now, if she’s the 11th R, there’d be a lot of pressure on her to caucus with the D’s. In fact, that might be the dealmaker that gives her one more term.