Sussex seeing red; Delaware is blue

Republicans rode the wave in the Nov. 2 election in an unprecedented sweep in Sussex County, including the ouster of all three Democratic row offices. The three Democrat winners were Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf in the 14th District, unopposed Sen. George Bunting in the 20th District and John Atkins, a former Republican, in the 41st District.

Republicans took every other seat in Sussex – some without any contenders. Sen. Joe Booth, 19th District; Rep. Dan Short, 39th District; Rep. Gerald Hocker, 38th District; and Rep. Biff Lee, 40th District, walked into new terms without any opposition.

Other winning Republicans were Jack Peterman, unseating incumbent Bob Walls, in the 33rd District; incumbent Dave Wilson in the 35th District; Harvey Kenton in the 36th District, replacing retiring Rep. George Carey; and incumbent Ruth Briggs King in the 37th District.

Republicans Vance Phillips, District 5, and George Cole, District 4, retained their seats on Sussex County Council.

The real shocker occurred in the Sussex row offices with all three incumbents going down in defeat. It’s surprising because all three are well known in the county and have been doing good jobs. The fact they had a “D” beside their names was the kiss of death this time around.

Jeff Christopher, a deputy under former sheriff Robert Reed, will replace Sheriff Eric Swanson; Scott Dailey, owner of Capstone Homes, will replace Recorder of Deeds John Brady; and Cindy Green, a self-employed elder caregiver, will replace Register of Wills Greg Fuller.

Swanson did a lot of damage control in the Sheriff’s Office and got it back on track. Although Fuller proposed fee increases early on, he recanted and has become one of the most visible of all politicians in the county. Brady, who is everywhere, trimmed expenses and helped bring the office into the 21st century with upgraded technology.

To state the three winners ran low-key campaigns would be an understatement. I’m sure the three incumbents were among the most shocked people in Delaware on election night.

The Republican wave swept over Sussex County, into Kent County and was swallowed up by the C&D Canal in New Castle County. Thanks to New Castle voters, Democrats dominated the federal and state races, winning everything from the U.S. Senate and House to treasurer and attorney general. The only kink in the Dems’ armor is Tom Wagner. It appears the long-time Republican state auditor was able to sneak in a win by a 1-percent margin. Democrat Richard Korn says he will probably seek a recount.


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