The deadline for filing to run for the State Senate or the State House is July 10, 2018. If an incumbent knows that they are going to retire, they usually get it out of the way well in advance, like most of the TEN legislators did this past winter and spring. This gives those candidates playing to run to succeed the retiring legislator leg up on timing.
As you can see from the chart below, most legislators have filed to run for reelection. Those with their names italicized have not filed yet. Their names are included on the chart because, until they officially announce their retirement, they are expected to run for our purposes.
Here is a list of them, ranked from most likely to retire to least likely to retire. Don’t get too excited by these rankings, because I only consider three of them to be legitimate possibilities, and a fourth that is within the realm of possibility but not at all likely, and I will explain my thinking on each of them. The rest are just biding their time, letting that filing fee collect a little more interest in the bank account.
- Robert Marshall (D-3rd SD) – He has two primary challengers, one of whom is running a stellar campaign. I know what you are thinking: with two challengers, Marshall might think that he will pull a Karen Weldin Steward and survive with 32% of the vote. But he barely survived a one on one race with Sherry Dorsey Walker by 37 votes back in 2014, and Walker was not running as good a campaign as Lockman. Both Lockman and Hines announced their campaigns early. Challengers only do that when they either think the incumbent is sure to retire or can easily be beaten. Marshall has announced late before, but I am betting he will retire rather than face a very tough campaign. There is a debate in this race coming up on Monday, June 11, at 6:30 pm at the Christina Cultural Arts Center (705 N Market St, Wilmington, DE 19801). Marshall has told organizers of the debate that he will not be attending. Is that because he is retiring, or because he has utter contempt for his constituents?
- Andria Bennett (D-32nd RD) – She has had recurrent health issues, and faced some angry backlash from her vote on the budget last year. I can see her retiring. But then again, talk of a primary challenger from both the left and the leadership fizzled.
- Greg Lavelle (R-4th SD) – Lavelle is Delaware’s Paul Ryan. He has this “wonkish idea guy” brand, that he is a “reasonable” Republican. But he has to contort himself into knots to explain no votes that keep him in line with the rest of his insane caucus and constituents. See his latest ERA vote. I can see him tiring of it and parachuting out like Ryan did.
- Bryan Townsend (D-11th SD) – When the Attorney General race opened up upon Matt Denn’s surprise retirement, some of our lonely eyes turned to Townsend. He demurred due to family and work reasons (he and his wife had just welcomed their first child, and he had spent the last year running for Congress, so another long statewide race did seem appealing). I don’t expect him to retire. I would bet lots of money I don’t have against it. But there is just a slight possibility (we are talking single digit percentages here) that he will not run again for the same reasons as he did not run for Attorney General. It would be a devastating blow to both progressives and humor.
- Quinn Johnson (D-8th RD)
- Valerie Longhurst (D-15th)
- Ron Gray (R-38th RD)
- Daniel Short (R-39th RD)
- Sean Matthews (D-10th RD)
- Tim Dukes (R-40th RD)
- Dave Bentz (D-18th RD)
- Ruth Briggs King (R-37th RD)
There are also some notable candidates who have announced their campaigns but have not officially filed yet. Those are Sam Guy in the 2nd SD race, Darius Brown in the 2nd SD Race, and Rachel Blumenfeld in 12th RD race. Of those, I would say Sam Guy will still file and definitely run. I feel less confident about Darius Brown, and perhaps he will not run after all.
With respect to Rachel Blumenfeld, I think it is entirely possible she will drop out. I feel, as a resident of the 12th District, that her opponent, Krista Griffith, who has filed, has run a stronger campaign so far. No major policy difference has emerged that would provide some distinction between the two. This is not to say that Blumenfeld doesn’t have a good campaign team or any support, she does on both counts. But the fact that she has not yet filed gives me pause.
You’re leaving out the top-ballot non-filer – Kerri Harris. The campaign seems to be spending all its time going after national progressive endorsements and interviews with niche podcasts and zero time on the ground here in Delaware.
Where is she and what is she doing? Will she even have the cash to pay the filing fee ($10k)?
I was only focusing in my list on the General Assembly, but you are right. There are others who have not yet filed, like Kerri Harris and Lisa Blunt Rochester. And you raise good questions.
They have their hands and mind space too full with all the Russia hysteria to attend to a Senatorial primary.
Buzz over Kerri Harris might get people involved and donating in her campaign, while Russia-gate has us doing nada, waiting for Mueller to do something.
It was once standard practice for incumbent legislators to file after the June 30th end of the legislative session. You may also recall that then-Speaker Bob Gilligan announced his retirement at the filing deadline, allowing his chosen replacement Kim Williams to file uncontested. Incumbents have the luxury of waiting because they have campaign funds and structure on hand. Prospective challengers who wait are wasting the precious days needed to raise money and meet voters. It is getting to be too late for many of them.
That said, at least two non-filed incumbents, I am told, are seriously considering their options.
Finally, while I understand why people who have not filed, but are actively campaigning, are listed. However, I think it muddies the list when individuals who are not campaigning, are not raising money and have not yet filed, are listed just because of a “tease” statement of candidacy.
Mitch, I think it’s great that you took the time to comment on this particular article, but I feel it’s important to get at least some of the facts correct when posting publicly in the era of “fake news” and all that. If you took just a couple of seconds and looked into the 2012 race for the 19th, you would see that not only did Rep. Bob Gilligan announce his retirement prior to the deadline, but it was not only far enough ahead that my wife Kim Williams had time to file, but that her opponent in the PRIMARY of the summer of 2012, Bill Dunn, also had time to file. So far from being some nefarious back room deal it was quite the opposite. If it had been as you claim it was, Kim would not have had a primary (which she did), she simply would have walked into the office of the Department of Elections at the 11th hour, filed, and then would have truly been the anointed one–the primary season would have been over and done with. It was as much of a surprise to us as it was to everyone else that Speaker Gilligan whom I had only met once when he was out door knocking was retiring. Kim running for office was not something we had ever discussed prior to and certainly wasn’t something she was involved with in round table discussions with the Speaker or anyone else during his time in office. The only discussion we had was when we were out for a walk and she brought it up and as much as I was not thrilled about it personally I told her I would give her my full support if it was something she wanted to pursue. It’s interesting that you are so focused on the rep from the 19th; I think it has less to do with filing time, and more to do with the auditor’s race and your support of Kathy McGuiness and Kim’s support of Kathleen Davies, the only canidate who is truly qualified for the job. Your candidate is running with the support of the powers “that be,” the Delaware way, the old guard etc. Kathleen Davies is running on “I want to get in there and do the job.” Everyone has a right to their opinion and like they say opinions are like a..holes everyone has one, whether it’s backing unqualified candidates or posting on blogs, but it’s just important that you get it right when you use it.
Carl, thank you for your correcting my recollection. As to your wife and the race for auditor, I respect her right to support her candidate. I was not focusing on her other than on Mr Gilligan’s surprise announcement that he was retiring. I had my own primary to worry about that year and I had totally forgotten that Bill Dunn primaried her. Kim Williams has been an excellent legislator on the issues I care about.
As to the Auditor’s race, we can agree to disagree on who is “truly qualified”.
“As to the Auditor’s race, we can agree to disagree on who is “truly qualified”.”
You’ve opened the door, Mitch. Please explain why someone with no auditing experience is “truly qualified” for a job that is supposed to piss off office-holders, not garner their endorsements.
My original post on Bob Gilligan was meant to point out that some people announce their retirements at the end of session. In Mr. Gilligan’s case ,that was true. He announced he was retiring at the end of Session on June 30, 2012.
As to Mr. Connor, I know an a..hole when I see one. It looks like you.
Alby, the Auditor does not do the auditing. The current Auditor is not an Auditor, nor were most of his predecessors. The State Auditor needs to know how to manage an office, supervise staff, direct that audits be conducted, hire the professionals who conduct the audits. The auditor needs to be able to fight for a budget necessary to do the job as well as propose and advance legislation necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the office.
Oh dear, Mitch. You really think you’re a progressive?
“The current Auditor is not an Auditor, nor were most of his predecessors.”
Just because Republicans perverted what’s supposed to be an oversight position doesn’t mean Democrats should continue the practice.
“The Auditor does not do the auditing. … The State Auditor needs to know how to manage an office, supervise staff, direct that audits be conducted, hire the professionals who conduct the audits.”
The person responsible for running public health doesn’t take care of anyone medically; the person runs an office. Would you be OK with that person not having a medical background?
Never mind. We answered this question by electing Karen Weldin Stewart as insurance commissioner. Clearly those skills are optional or she never would have been re-elected.
“The auditor needs to be able to fight for a budget necessary to do the job as well as propose and advance legislation necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the office.”
Now you’re just being ironic. The Republican incumbent had none of that. All you’re saying is that your candidate is politically connected. That’s exactly what many of us find disqualifying.
At any rate, feel free to explain how anything you said qualifies as remotely in the interest of the public rather than your candidate.
I would agree with Alby: the Auditor’s Office is by its very name an office made up of auditors to do audits. The auditor needs to not only understand the auditing process, but needs to be neutral of political affiliations–this is paramount to the proper functioning of the office. To say your candidate is not a qualified auditor nor does she need to be in order to effectively run her office is fraught with problems from the start. Mitch, by your own definition, she isn’t a qualified auditor, but a qualified manager, so what are her qualifications as a manager? Wouldn’t the citizens of Delaware be better served to elect someone who is both a qualified auditor and a qualified manager, like Kathleen Davies? You stated that the auditor only needs to be able to hire qualified personnel to run the office. If Kathy McGuiness wins the election is she going to hire Kathleen Davies to manage and run the office? I would assume that Kathleen Davies won’t be hiring Kathy McGuiness to run the office for her. I’m not an auditor (my math teachers would attest to that), but I find it concerning that the whole premise of the McGuiness campaign is to get elected and hire someone else to do the job. I find that policy to be economically unsound even with my limited auditing skills. On the first day on the job, is she going to say “it was nice meeting all of you if you have any questions direct them to the person I just hired to oversee the office, I’ll be home if you need me call after 12:00 and before 3:00 thanks don’t forget to send the check.” We currently have that now, why on earth would we repeat that? Endorsements don’t make the voters feel warm and fuzzy, it just shines a white hot light on whose interests will be best served after election time.
Alby, as to my thinking I am a progressive, that is not for your to determine and I am not the one who is quick to label people.
“I am a progressive, that is not for your to determine ”
OK, then you’re a liar. It’s one or the other.
There’s nothing progressive about your answer.
I did not say “I am a progressive”. I was quoting you. I do not apply labels to myself. I have been labeled by others all my life: “Christ Killer” “kike” “N… lover”
“Commie”. “Fag”. Your bulllying of those you do not agree with does not compare with what I suffered at the hands of real bullies
I am who I am. I state my opinion and I couldn’t care less about what angry men like you think
Sorry, Mitch, but I’m not angry. I just like mocking self-bullshitters like you. Ran into hundreds of them in a journalism career.
So you think “not a progressive” ranks up there with those insults? How can you be a Christ-killer when you so love driving nails through your own palms?
Wagner was a political hack who worked with both parties to cover up the dirt in this state. Its the reason we need an Inspector General with subpoena powers and reports ONLY to the citizens the findings of the case.
Say hello to Wolfgang for me.
Seriously. Inspector general? There are only about three idiots in the state who think that’s a good idea. Everyone else recognizes that it would be corrupted just as quickly as any other effort to force good government onto a corrupt system.
Mitch, what’s your take on Baker v. Lopez? How good are Baker’s chances?
Lopez has been moderate enough to not totally anger swing voters. His support for death penalty repeal and his apology for not supporting marriage equality were good moves. He also voted in favor of the ERA constitutional amendment. On the other hand he did not apologize for not support Gender Identity protections and he has expressed opposition to some of the gun control legislation. Lopez has been good at constituent service and that is always an advantage for an incumbent who is responsive.
Dave Baker is a life-long Sussex Countian who served as an elected member of a school board and is credited for his good job as County Administrator. He speaks and looks life a Sussex County native, but has expressed progressive positions on the issue of the day.
That all said, Ernie Lopez has done well in two elections against well-funded and very good candidates in Andy Staton and then Claire Snyder-Hall.
He is vulnerable IF there truly is an anti-Trump wave in the 6th Senate District and the Democratic turnout is 7%-10% higher than the Republican turnout, instead of the opposite as it has been in the mid-term elections during the Obama presidency. Baker would have to raise money in numbers close to Staton and Snyder-Hall and make his case.
My take then is that Republican incumbents such as Lavelle, Lopez, and Smyk are vulnerable this year if there is a large Democratic turnout and independent voters split their votes nearly 50-50.
I agree on Lavelle and Lopez, but why would Smyk be vulnerable? I realize the registration numbers are about equal R to D, but that’s true of almost all of Sussex. Smyk’s share of the vote has gone up every election. Sadly, it’s gonna take a big wave to put Smyk under.
Smyk is vulnerable statistically, as is Rich Collins. It is scientific only in that we know what percentage of each party, and no-party, voters turned out in past mid-term elections. We know that 85%-95% of voters vote for the candidates of their own party. The guessing lies in two areas- the most important is what percentage of each category of voter will turn out this time. If the November results are similar to the last two mid-term elections, a higher percentage of Republicans will vote than Democrats. If this happens this November, the Sussex Republicans will win every RD and Senate race other than the 14th RD. If the Democratic turnout his higher than the Republicans, as it was in the mid-terms under George W Bush, then those races become competitive. Less important is the independent vote- the independent turnout in mid-term elections is much lower than the Party vote, but it does also tend to swing more to the party out-of-power in the White House. This factor would also favor Democrats in the aforementioned races.
There are factors that are impossible to guess on this early: Will Trump drive out his base enough to counteract the anti-Trump wave from the left? Will Ernie Lopez be damaged by his primary fight (he would if he moved to the right to win the Primary). Will George Parrish be the R candidate for the 4th Council seat of the may-be-retiring George Cole? If Parrish is the R candidate, his record of homophobia and odd behavior could benefit Democrats running in the part of that council district that is also in Lopez’ 6th Senate District (EDs 3-7 in the 14th RD)..
Alby is likely correct about Smyk. He won a close race against Marie Mayor in 2012, but won by wide margins in 2014 and 2016. He is likeable and friendly. It is his voting record that could cost him in a Democratic wave
I also want to add another race-the 21st Senate seat of Bryant Richardson, who is opposed by Bob Wheatley. Richardson won his seat in 2014 by beating Democrat Bob Venables, who should have retired and refused the help of the Party. Richardson has been not much more than a NO vote in the Senate. He was the only vote against the bill that alloed the Department of Insurance to open an office in Sussex County, even though 2/3rd of the walk-ins at the Dover office were Sussex Countians, most of the senior citizens and many from his district. The bill was supported by all the other Sussex County R legislators and co-primed by Senator Bryan Pettyjohn. Wheatley is a member of the county planning commission and its former chair. He is cerebral and well-reflects the district. This is a race to watch if Wheatley is properly funded and works hard.
I heard that Cole may be retiring. It wouldn’t bother me if he did, but I certainly will be concerned if we were faced with a Parish, has announced that he is running. Is there a D as a candidate for that council seat?
Yes. She has formed her finance committee and should be filing very soon.
Thanks. I’ll keep an eye out. I’m in Cole’s district so she’ll get at least one vote.