Rep. Quinn Johnson retiring

DOVER — Rep. Quinn Johnson, a Middletown Democrat who co-chairs the influential budget-writing panel, announced Monday he will not seek another term in the legislature.

Expressing a desire to spend more time with family, Rep. Johnson told colleagues his seat will be open this fall.

“It’s time for me to say thank you. I will miss each and every one of you,” he said. “You won’t not see me, but it’s time for me to give back that time to my family that they have sacrificed over the last 12 years.”

He is the first member of the House to publicly reveal plans not to run again this year.

The owner of several early childhood education centers, Rep. Johnson was first elected to the 8th Representative District in the blue wave of 2008. After winning about 57% of the vote that year, he subsequently won reelection five times, never garnering less than 60% of ballots cast.

Rep. Quinn Johnson

He served as the House chair of the Joint Committee on Capital Improvement for six years before taking over on the Joint Finance Committee in 2018. With Sen. Harris McDowell, a Wilmington Democrat, also retiring, JFC will now have two new chairs for the first time in a long time.

As JFC co-chair, Rep. Johnson had a particularly full plate this year after COVID caused a steep drop in state revenues. Amidst much uncertainty, budget officials worked with legislators, chiefly the two co-chairs, to draw up alternate spending plans.

The final spending bill was approved by the House Monday.

The fact the state was able to balance its budget without cutting employee pay or hours or slashing services is a testament to Delaware’s fiscal management and budgeting process, Rep. Johnson said. Unlike some members of the House Democratic caucus, he’s advocated for more conservative budgeting, setting money aside in good times to be used in bad ones.

He was feted by representatives after announcing his retirement Monday, with several wiping tears from their eyes. Legislators praised his good nature and hard work, as several pledged to have lunch with him at some point.

“I have and will always be your friend,” Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a Bear Democrat, said.

The 8th Representative District sits along the Maryland-Delaware line and stretches from the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal to Middletown. It has about 18,800 registered voters: 9,300 Democrats, 4,900 Republicans and 4,600 independents.