Delaware GOP ends “20-year drought”

 Tom Wagner and Ken Simpler

Tom Wagner and Ken Simpler

Republican state elected officials in Delaware have doubled their numbers to two.

For the first time in 20 years, a Delaware Republican has won an open state seat. The honor went to Ken Simpler, who took the treasurer’s seat with 53 percent of the votes.

“A 20 year drought has ended tonight,” said Charlie Copeland, chairman of the Delaware GOP. “The last time we won an open seat state race was 1994.”

Meanwhile, Tom Wagner, the other statewide Republican faced the toughest re-election campaign of his career to hold onto the auditor’s seat, a position he’s held for more than 25 years.

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“This was certainly the most competitive,” he said. “Brenda is a tough campaigner, raised a lot of money, had a lot of party support and this is the first time I’ve had the target on my back. No other offices for them [Democrats] to really go after.”

Copeland said the votes show that Delawareans are happy with the candidates that were put before them and came out to give their support.

“Delaware voters are given an opportunity to look at a candidate that has the right skills for a job and a candidate that’s just sort of a political hack, and they make the right choice,” he said. “It’s also incumbent upon us to make sure we get that message out. So I think that Delaware voters listen when you present your argument to them.”

Along with the statewide races, Republicans also picked up a few new seats in the General Assembly.

On the Senate side, longtime Senator Robert Venables lost to Republican Bryant Richardson. Venables, who serves the conservative Seaford area has held the seat since 1988.

In the House, Rick Collins defeated incumbent Democrat Rep. John Atkins to win the 41 District seat, to represent the Millsboro-Selbyville area.

Kevin Hensley won the 9th District seat, which was previously held by Democrat Rep. Rebecca Walker. Walker did not seek a third term in office.

Copeland added that Delaware Republicans are going to continue the momentum into 2016.

“We’ve taken a step forward after taking a lot of steps back, so we’ve still got a little ground to cover but I’m excited by the organization that we’ve put in place, the energy we’re generating among our grassroots supporters,” he said.

“I firmly believe over the next two years were going to move some issues forward both nationally and in the state of Delaware and we’re going to have some competitive candidates come 2016.”

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