Party leaders reflect on election resultsBrooks: You can’t win them all
Sussex County — The Sussex County Republican Party’s greatest victory this year might have been securing the two new legislative seats in the county. Both Senate District 6 and Representative District 20 moved to Sussex from New Castle County after redistricting in 2011 – led by House Democrats.
In Senate District 6, which encompasses the Cape Region, Republican Ernie Lopez easily won the race against Democrat Andy Staton, who had the endorsement of Gov. Jack Markell, and Libertarian Wendy Jones.
Of the 17 polling locations in SD 6, Staton earned the majority vote in only two – Rehoboth Fire Hall and Milton Elementary School.
In some polling locations, including H.O. Brittingham School in Milton and Beacon Middle School in Lewes, Lopez earned about twice as many votes as Staton. Other locations, including Milton Elementary and Rehoboth Elementary, revealed a closer race, with less than 70 votes separating the candidates.
Carl Ballato, Democratic chairman of RD 20, said the party expected Staton to earn more votes than he did. “I though it would be a little bit closer,” Ballato said.
Sussex County Republican Committee Spokesman Duke Brooks said he was proud of the victory. “Ernie is a great guy,” Brooks said. “I think he’s going to represent the 6th Senate District in Sussex County very well.”
Republican Steve Smyk won the majority vote in the new Representative District 20, which includes Milton, Lewes and Harbeson. “He knows everyone. He was also knocking on doors constantly,” Brooks said.
Democratic candidate Marie Mayor earned the majority vote in two of the district’s 10 polling locations – Milton Elementary and The Lewes School on Savannah Road in Lewes.
Brooks said, “From what I understand, Ms. Mayor brought a lot of big city, Democratic values to a rural area.”
Ballato defended Mayor and said he was not disappointed by the results. “I think she had an excellent campaign,” he said. “We’re really pleased by the involvement of the community.”
Ballato said he plans to keep the Democratic Party momentum going and get more people involved. “It’s just a question of time before representatives like Marie get elected,” he said.
Ballato said he was disappointed in some local races. “But not all,” he said.
Brooks said he was shocked Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver, the only Democrat on the council, retained her seat. “I was very surprised that Don Ayotte did not win,” Brooks said of Deaver’s Republican challenger. “Don was an extremely energetic campaigner,” he said. “She must have had a tremendous appeal to people.”
Deaver won by a slim margin of 11,400 to 9,182.
Brooks said he was also disappointed incumbent Rep. John Atkins, D-Millsboro, kept his seat. Atkins narrowly defeated Republican challenger Rich Collins in Representative District 41, where Republican voters heavily outnumbered Democrats in this year’s tallies. “I would prefer to have a Republican in that district,” Brooks said.
“Other than that, we held our own,” Brooks said of the Sussex County races.
Statewide, Ballato said, Democrats had anticipated a big win.
Brooks said he was disappointed in this year’s statewide and nation results. “I guess you can’t win them all,” he said.
Republicans did not secure any of the five statewide seats the party sought – governor, lieutenant governor, insurance commissioner, U.S. senator and U.S. congressman.
“I thought that voters would have said… “What we have is not working. Let’s try something different,’” Brooks said. “But the voters did not do that.”
“For me, it’s personally disappointing,” Brooks said. He said he had become close friends with a number of the candidates. “These people are smart people,” he said. “Their ideas made absolute sense to someone like me, who is a lifelong Republican.”
Brooks said he now plans to focus on educating citizens in Delaware about the Republican Party. He said some people are under the impression that Republicans are evil, greedy and anti-women. Brooks said that is the opposite of how he sees the party.
“I am going to focus on really articulating what the Republican Party is really about,” he said.
Brooks said, “The election is over…now give us a listen.”