Democrat David Bentz won Delaware’s 18th district special election for House of Representatives on Saturday.
Delaware Democrats were triumphant Saturday when Christiana residents elected David Bentz during a special election for an open seat in the state’s House of Representatives.
The 29-year-old legislative aide from Bear won the 18th district special election with a close 56.7 percent lead over Republican Eileen O’Shaughnessy-Coleman. Bentz received a total 894 votes, while O’Shaughnessy-Coleman had 683.
“It feels great to have the confidence of the people of this district,” Bentz said. “It feels good to see all the hard work of me and my staff pay off.”
Bentz and O’Shaughnessy-Coleman were fighting for the seat of former Democratic Rep. Michael Barbieri.
Barbieri stepped down Aug. 3 to become the new director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Bentz will serve through the general election in November, 2016, when he will face another election if he decides to run again.
Leading up to the election Bentz ran his campaign on his platform to serve the middle class, and to improve the education systems, and create working class job opportunities.
He received several endorsements from political groups, Democratic legislatures and Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware.
O’Shaughnessy-Coleman is a long-time resident of the district with her husband, and is a mother of five children, including two with special needs.
She ran her campaign on her connection to the people of the 18th district, and her vow to improve education and the job market.
O’Shaughnessy-Coleman also received endorsements from political groups and legislators, as well as former Republican Governor Mike Castle. She also received more campaign financial contributions than Bentz.
“I’m extremely thankful to the people who wrapped themselves around me and gave this a go,” O’Shaughnessy-Coleman said after the loss. “We gave it our best shot, and I did the best I could. I didn’t leave any stone unturned.”
She said she’s not ready to make a decision to run again, but said her public service work isn’t done yet.
“So many people in the district have issues they need help with and just because I lost the race doesn’t mean I won’t serve the people if the district,” O’Shaughnessy-Coleman said.
Bentz said since the district has been without a representative for six weeks now, he’s looking forward to getting to know his constituents, and to fix any lose ties that might need to be addressed.
Going forward he said he will be focused on addressing the State’s budget. Earlier this year, the State made millions of dollars in budget cuts to avoid a deficit this fiscal year, and also faces a $169 million deficit in fiscal year 2017.
“The challenge is going to be taking care of the deficit we’re facing,” Bentz said. “We need to make sure we have a long term solution to this budget problem.”
The win insures what is called a “super majority” for democrats in the House. That makes it easier for democrats to pass spending bills which require a 3/5th’s vote along party lines.