Richardson, Arlett, Lee win senate, council, sheriff races

By Lynn R. Parks

Western Sussex County has a new state senator. Bryant Richardson rode a wave of Republican victories across the country on Tuesday to defeat long-time incumbent Robert Venables.

Richardson got 53 percent of the votes, compared to Venables' 46 percent. Libertarian John Potter got 1 percent of the votes.

Richardson's victory means that Delaware Democrats no longer have a super majority in the Senate. That kind of majority, with three-fifths of the members, is required to pass tax and fee bills.

Richardson is owner and publisher of Morning Star Publications, which publishes the Seaford Star and the Laurel Star newspapers. On Wednesday morning, he said that he intends to remain as president of the company and his wife, Carol, will stay on as vice treasurer. But he will turn the responsibilities of publisher over to someone else.

"I want to be able to focus on being a state senator," he said. "I will not be at the paper day-to-day."

This was Richardson's second attempt at the state Senate seat. In 2012, Venables carried the day with 8,955 votes, nearly 56 percent of the tally.

Richardson said that this time, the fact that he had greater name recognition made the difference. He also credited the people on his election committee. "They are just amazing, well-qualified and dedicated," he said. "A lot of planning and strategy went into this."

The committee met weekly. "And we started each meeting with a prayer, asking for guidance," Richardson said. "I do believe that God opened the door for us."

Dan Short, state representative for the 39th district, easily won reelection, with 93 percent of the vote. His only challenger was Libertarian James Brittingham.

State Rep. Timothy Dukes was unchallenged in his bid for a second term.

Republicans also carried the day in county council races. Rob Arlett, who defeated incumbent Vance Phillips in September's Republican primary, easily won over Democratic challenger Bob Wheatley, with a little more than 60 percent of the votes. On the eastern side of the county, long-time county councilman George Cole won his bid for an eighth term, defeating Democrat and former state representative Shirley Price with 56 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Cynthia Green won another term as register of wills, defeating Democrat Greg Fuller with 61 percent of the vote. Recorder of deeds Scott Dailey also kept his seat, claiming nearly 60 percent of the vote to push off a challenge by Democrat Alma Roach.

As for the sheriff's race, former Seaford Police officer Robert Lee got 32,500 votes to easily defeat Democrat Beau Gooch, who got nearly 21,000 votes. Incumbent Jeff Christopher had mounted a write-in campaign after losing to Lee in the Republican primary. As of Wednesday morning, those votes were still uncounted.

Statewide races by and large went to Democrats. Sen. Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney easily won reelection. Both Coons and Carney lost in Sussex County, though: Coons got 26,452 votes compared to 34,067 votes received by GOP challenger Kevin Wade. And Carney got 29,465 votes, just 77 fewer votes than Republican Rose Izzo.

Lt. Gov. Matt Denn won his bid to be the state's attorney general, beating back a challenge by Republican and Seaford native Ted Kittila. In Sussex County, Kittila carried the day, with 31,381 votes compared to Denn's 25,453.

The two exceptions to the Democratic sweep of statewide races were the state auditor's race, where incumbent Tom Wagner won a seventh term, and the treasurer's race, where Republican Ken Simpler got 52 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Sean Barney. Both men won by large margins in Sussex County.

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