Sen. Marshall retiring after 40 years in office

Robert Marshall

DOVER — The second-longest-serving state senator in Delaware history is done.

Sen. Robert Marshall, a Wilmington Democrat, announced Monday night in a post to Facebook he will not seek reelection.

Sen. Marshall, 71, has represented the 3rd Senatorial District since 1978, but he was set to face a difficult primary against two much younger Democrats.

His decision means at least four of the Senate’s 21 members are guaranteed to be new next year.

In total, 12 lawmakers are retiring, and two representatives are seeking Senate seats. As a result, the 150th General Assembly will see more turnover than the past five years combined.

Whether it will top 2012, which saw 15 seats change hands, won’t be known until November’s general election.

Many had speculated about what the longtime senator would do, especially after Rep. Andria Bennett, D-Dover, filed Friday, leaving Sen. Marshall as the only legislator up for election whose intentions were unknown.

He posted the following on Facebook Monday:

“To the Delaware Community:

“I have decided to conclude my public service in elective office at the end of the 149th General Assembly on November 6th, 2018.

“My sincere gratitude and appreciation to the People for a long career in the Delaware State Senate supported by many.

“I look forward to devoting more time to business interests.”

He did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

The chair of the Senate Labor Committee, Sen. Marshall has been a strong supporter of unions during his time in office, successfully introducing legislation to raise the minimum wage six times over the past 25 years — and filing seven other bills that would have increased the minimum wage in that time.

He’s gained a reputation as somewhat of an independent thinker, sometimes surprising both Democrats and Republicans by voting against his caucus.

Although Sen. Marshall has held a Senate seat for 40 years, he had to hold off a Democratic challenger in 2014, squeaking by then City Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker with 51 percent of the vote.

This time around, with Tizzy Lockman and Jordan Hines generating excitement in Democratic circles, there was doubt about whether Sen. Marshall would return to Legislative Hall in 2019.

He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2016, coming in last in an eight-way primary with less than 2 percent of the vote despite spending about $97,000 of his own money. He initially sought the mayor’s office in 2012 as well but dropped out to focus on his Senate duties.

Covering west Wilmington, the 3rd District is the smallest in area and the most densely populated Senate district in the state. It’s a Democratic stronghold, with about 20,000 of the 28,100 registered voters in the district listed as Democrats.

Only the 2nd Senatorial District has a higher percentage of registered voters who are Democrats.

Those Senate districts also happen to be the only two that are, according to state data, majority-minority. Both Ms. Lockman and Mr. Hines are black.

Information from Statistical Atlas.com indicates the 3rd District has the lowest median income per household among all 21 Senate jurisdictions.

No Republicans have filed for the seat.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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