Democratic control over Delaware Senate at risk [audio]

 (Photos courtesy of the Delaware General Assembly)

(Photos courtesy of the Delaware General Assembly)

Delaware state Senator Brian Bushweller announced he will retire from public service when his term expires next year, opening the door for Republicans to take control of the Senate.

The Dover senator described his time in the General Assembly as “rewarding” and “satisfying,” making the decision to leave it behind a tough one.

“People frequently focus on the frustrations, the politics, the negative politics and that sort of thing, but let me tell you, there’s an awful lot of great moments too. And finally deciding to give up those great moments was a difficult thing.”

Ultimately, Bushweller said his desire to spend quality time with family won the day. 

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“As of Election Day next year, I will be 73-years-old. My wife and I both believe that we’ve got a few good years left in us, and we have a very tight-knit family, and we’re looking forward to spending time with our 10 grandkids, and our five kids and with each other, by the way. And that is the reason, that is it.”

Senate majority up for grabs

Bushweller’s decision puts his party’s one-vote control over the state Senate on shaky ground. But Bushweller said he’s confident his retirement will not affect his party’s majority status.

Bushweller cited voter registration numbers to back up his point. Democrats outnumber Republicans almost two to one statewide; they also have an edge in Kent County, giving any Democratic candidate looking to succeed Bushweller a “head start,” as he said. 

And while he wouldn’t disclose any names, Bushweller said the party has some really strong potential candidates in the pipeline.

“We have some very, very good people, who I think will be interested in running, and who, anyone of whom, I could support enthusiastically,” said Bushweller, who is confident the positive relationships he has developed during his nine years of service with people of different political stripes will also give a leg up to whomever the Democratic candidate may be. 

“I’m also very aware of the fact that on any given Election Day, in any given year, any given candidate can lose. And so I think we Democrats are going to have to work very, very hard and take nothing for granted. But I do think that the totality of the evidence suggests that we should be okay,” Bushweller said.

Democrats have held a majority in the Senate for 44 years.

Three decades of public service

Bushweller was first elected to represent the 17th District in November 2008.

Prior to that, he worked for the Delaware State Education Association, served in then-Governor Tom Carper’s administration first as a legislative liaison and then as the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, which was renamed the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. He followed Carper to the U.S. Senate and was responsible for the Senator’s three offices in Delaware before seeking elected office. 

Senate President Pro Tem David McBride released a statement on behalf of the state Senate congratulating Bushweller on his decision. In it, he touted Bushweller’s “unwavering commitment” to his constituents and to improving the quality of life for all Delawareans.

“Over the course of a public service career spanning three decades, Brian has distinguished himself as one of Delaware’s strongest and steadiest forces for good,” McBride said. “Brian’s thoughtful, even-keeled approach to problem-solving has made him one of Dover’s most trusted and respected leaders, and he will be missed by his colleagues and constituents alike.”

Bushweller has 14 months remaining in his current term, at which time he’ll have spent 10 years in office. 

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