Outten announces retirement from state House

Bobby Outten

DOVER — Rep. Bobby Outten, R-Harrington, announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection, making him the ninth member of the General Assembly to reveal plans to retire later this year.

Rep. Outten has held the 30th Representative District seat since 2004, making him the third-longest tenured House Republican.

“It has been a privilege representing my constituents, but now I think it is time to enjoy retirement,” Rep. Outten, 69, said in a statement.

He has won election seven times relatively easily, never garnering less than 59 percent of the vote and not having a major-party opponent three times.

A spread-out district stretching across a largely rural area, the 30th Representative District covers the southwest quarter of Kent County, extending from just outside Dover to the Maryland state line and the Sussex County border.

It is one of two Kent districts where Republicans outnumber Democrats, with the GOP holding the advantage in registered voters 5,600 to 5,200.

One of the General Assembly’s quieter members, Rep. Outten has mainly sponsored bills dealing with charter changes and agriculture during his time in the General Assembly.

He sits on the House Agriculture, Corrections, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Judiciary, and Veterans Affairs committees. Outside of the Legislature, Rep. Outten is on the board of directors for the Delaware State Fair.

Democrat Chuck Groce, who ran unsuccessfully for the district in 2016, filed Wednesday to run.

Republican William Morris has formed a committee to raise money for a campaign but has not officially filed for the office.

With Rep. Outten’s retirement, the House is guaranteed to have at least eight new members in 2019. Reps. Melanie George Smith, D-Bear; Harvey Kenton, R-Milford; Bryon Short, D-Highland Woods; J.J. Johnson, D-New Castle; and Joe Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley; and Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington; Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson, R-Milford; and Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, are not running, while Reps. Trey Paradee, D-Cheswold, and Dave Wilson, R-Bridgeville, are seeking Senate seats.

The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 combined saw nine legislators leave the General Assembly, with five of those being defeated in their re-election bids.

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