Balance of Delaware senate shifts after Blevins loss

WILMINGTON — In a shocking upstate upset, Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins lost to Republican Anthony Delcollo in Tuesday’s election.
The upset gives the GOP one more seat in the Senate, narrowing the gap one seat, 11 to 10. No other incumbent lost Tuesday.
However, the Democratic Party is losing another state senator, Bethany Hall-Long, who will become lieutenant governor.
Her seat is expected to formally open after she is sworn in as lieutenant governor in mid-January, with a special election near the end of February or early March.
Mr. Delcollo pulled in 50.6 percent of the vote to upend Sen. Blevins in the Elsmere-area 7th Senate District.
She was first elected in 1990 and has been president pro tempore since 2012.
The Democratic Party has held the Senate for the past 44 years, but that streak is in jeopardy.
The loss also creates a leadership vacuum. Sen. David McBride, D-Wilmington Manor, is currently majority leader.
“I just spoke to Anthony Delcollo and congratulated him on a hard-fought victory,” said Sen. Blevins in a statement. “I wish him well as our new state senator.
“I am honored by all the support I received, both today and in past elections,” she said. “Representing the 7th District in the Delaware state Senate has been an honor of a lifetime, and I’m proud to have played a small part in moving our state forward. We’ve made some important strides in becoming a more vibrant, prosperous and welcoming state, and I hope that progress can continue under new leadership.”
Mr. Delcollo could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bruce Ennis, a Smyrna Democrat, held off Republican Carl Pace, winning with 59.6 percent in the 14th Senate District.
Up in Wilmington, 40-year incumbent Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington, defeated James Spadola of the GOP with 56.3 percent of the vote in the 1st Senate District.
In the 8th Senate District in Newark, Democratic Sen. David Sokola beat back a challenge from Republican Meredith Chapman in a race the GOP saw as perhaps the most likely to flip. Sen. Sokola gained 50.8 percent of the vote.
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons expressed shock at the outcome of the 7th District race, saying he was “still absorbing” the result shortly after it came in.
“I was out campaigning with Sen. Blevins today. I’ve known her a long time, she is a tireless advocate for her community, she’s a great public servant,” the Democrat said.
Sen. Hall-Long, who serves the 10th Senate District, accused Mr. Delcollo of running a “negative” campaign. While she was disappointed with the outcome, she is optimistic the Democrats will win the special election to retain control of the chamber.
Rep. Lyndon Yearick, a Camden Republican who won his second term Tuesday, said the party has to “keep chipping away” with the goal of taking control of the General Assembly.
“It’s 11-10 with a special election coming up,” he said at the GOP’s watch party in Dover. “Obviously everybody will be throwing the kitchen sink at that one.”
In the House, incumbents held on with little trouble, keeping the margin at 25 to 16 in favor of the Democrats. No incumbent representative won by less than 19 percent.
In the race for the only open seat, Republican Charles Postles defeated Democrat Karen Williams to claim the 33rd District. It was previously held by Harold “Jack” Peterman, who died in August.
House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, topped Republican James DeMartino in the 14th District. He remains the only Democratic lawmaker in Sussex and is expected to be speaker again.
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney contributed to this story.

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