Democrats add one House seat, defeat GOP minority whip

WILMINGTON — Twelve new members of the state House of Representatives were elected Tuesday night.

Democrats gained one seat, stretching their lead to 26-15. Krista Griffith took out House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, the longest-serving member of the House, garnering 53.1 percent of the vote in the 12th Representative District.

Rep. Hudson had spent 24 years in the chamber.

Due to a combination of circumstances, eight representatives retired this year, while two more ran for state Senate seats, guaranteeing significant turnover.

But despite the many new members, there was little impact on the ultimate outcome. Two years after no seats in the chamber flipped, just one changed hands this time. That doesn’t mean Democrats weren’t pleased by the outcome, however.

“I’m thrilled to welcome all of these new members to the House of Representatives and to our caucus,” House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a Rehoboth Beach Democrat, said in a statement. “During the past several years, we have advanced policies that have had a profound, positive impact on people’s lives, whether it’s spurring economic development, fighting for equality for all Delawareans, protecting women’s rights, expanding access to voting, and making our communities safer, and better places to live.”

The newly elected members won’t be officially sworn in until January, but they are officially considered members of the General Assembly today.

Lyndon Yearick

Republicans expressed disappointment with the results but pledged to continue working to meet their party’s goals.

“It may seem pretty dark right now, but it’s always darkest just before the dawn,” said Rep. Lyndon Yearick, a Camden Republican elected to a third term in the 34th Representative District.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, there’s a victor and there’s a loser, and right now there’s one party in charge and they’re going to own everything. They own it all.

“Today was a tough fight. We have the winning principles, we have the winning convictions, we have the winning ideas. We have to get younger, we have to get more diversified, we have to get more women involved.”

The 29th Representative District was vacated by Trey Paradee, a Democrat who had represented it since 2012 but campaigned for the state Senate this year. In his stead, Democrat Bill Bush and Republican Robin Hayes competed for the Cheswold-area seat. Mr. Bush picked up 57.7 percent of votes cast.

Republican William Shannon Morris earned a first term in the 30th Representative District, defeating Democrat Charles Groce with 64.8 percent of the vote. He succeeds Bobby Outten, a Harrington Republican who did not seek an eighth term.

In the 36th Representative District, Bryan Shupe beat Don Allan to keep the seat in Republican hands. The office, which covers Milford and southeastern Sussex County, had been represented by Harvey Kenton since 2010. Mr. Shupe, the former mayor of Milford, garnered 64.8 percent of the vote.

He made his acceptance speech to the crowd gathered at Sunset Cove in Milford with eight out of 11 election districts reporting results Tuesday night.

“Just know that regardless of party and regardless of, you know, where you stand on issues that I will be there to listen and my door will always be open and my phone will always be on. I hope that I can serve them in the same capacity for the 36th district as I did as mayor,” he said. “I think being the mayor laid a great foundation of seeing what actually municipalities need on the street level.

“I want to take that power, or that knowledge, up to the state Legislature to get things done for our communities that are actually in the 36th district working with those mayors. … So, I think that’s really going to help us build our economy, rebuild our infrastructure and ensure clean water here.”

Running unopposed after winning a primary two months ago, Republican Jesse Vanderwende became the new officeholder from the Bridgeville-area 35th Representative District.

State Rep. Rich Collins, a Republican from Millsboro, defeated Democratic challenger Brad Connor to win a third term in the House.

He said Tuesday night, “In my district I think the message is clear that Republicans were anxious to get to the polls and vote. Voting was heavy. It looks to me without a lot of analysis yet, that it is a bigger vote total than four years ago in the last mid-term.”

As for the statewide results, he said, “It just shows that Delaware is a such a divided state. I don’t see a lot of change. It looks (like) Delaware is kind of cast in stone.”

The other new members elected Tuesday are: Nnamdi Chukwuocha from the 1st Representative District, Sherry Dorsey Walker from the 3rd Representative District, Kendra Johnson from the 5th Representative District, Raymond Siegfriend from the 7th Representative District, Franklin Cooke from the 16th Representative District, Melissa Minor-Brown from the 17th Representative District and Mike Smith from the 22nd Representative District.

Jenn Antonik, Glenn Rolfe and Mike Finney contributed to this story.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.


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