Incumbents retain seats in western Sussex races

By Lynn R. Parks

Voters in western Sussex County on Tuesday went with what they knew. Incumbents who ran were all returned to office.

In the 21st senatorial district, state Sen. Robert Venables, first elected to office in 1988, won reelection over his Republican challenger, Bryant Richardson. Richardson is owner of Morning Star Publications, which puts out the Seaford Star and Laurel Star newspapers.

Venables received 8,955 votes, nearly 56 percent of the tally. Richardson, who was making his first run for state office, got 6,889 votes.

In that race, Libertarian John Potter also received 187 votes.

In the 35th representative district, incumbent state Rep. Dave Wilson easily defeated Libertarian challenger Ronnie Fitzgerald. Wilson received 5,836 votes to Fitzgerald's 467.

Incumbent state Rep. Dan Short (R - Seaford), who defeated Patrick Murray in the Republican primary, didn't face a challenger on Tuesday. Neither did Sussex County Council president Mike Vincent, who defeated Republican challenger Scott Witzke in the September primary race.

With 58 percent of the vote, county councilman Sam Wilson easily triumphed over two men who challenged him. Democrat Gary Wolfe received 5,299 votes to Wilson's 7,821. Libertarian Ronnie Fitzgerald received 331 votes.

Two races didn't feature incumbents. Republican Tim Dukes won over Democrat Ben Lowe to claim the seat left vacant by the retirement of state Rep. Biff Lee. Dukes got 5,552 votes, nearly 63 percent of those tallied. Lowe, who had won over fellow Democrat Ray Adkins in the primary, received 3,306 votes.

In the 19th senatorial district, where incumbent Joe Booth lost in the Republican primary to Eric Bodenweiser, who subsequently dropped out, Republican Brian Pettyjohn cruised to victory over Democrat Jane Hovington. Pettyjohn, former mayor of Georgetown, received 9,817 votes over Hovington's 6,605.

Only one Sussex County row office was up for grabs in this year's election. Democrat John Brady, former Sussex register of wills, was elected as the county's clerk of the peace, replacing retiring George Parrish. Brady received 46,411 votes, nearly 54 percent of those cast. The Republican in the race, Brooks Witzke, got 37,780 votes and Libertarian David Eisenhour received 2,452 votes.

Statewide, voters followed Sussex County's lead in returning incumbents to office. Gov. Jack Markell and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn easily defeated challengers, Markell with 69 percent of the vote and Denn with nearly 62 percent of the vote. Markell carried Sussex County while Denn narrowly lost here to challenger and Milford businesswoman Sher Valenzuela. Denn got 42,537 votes in Sussex, compared to Valenzuela's 44,274.

Sen. Tom Carper will return to Washington for his third term, having won 66 percent of the vote in his race. Independent challenger Alex Pires, Dewey Beach businessman and owner of Jimmy's Grille in Bridgeville, received only 15,300 votes, 4 percent of those cast.

Voters also sent Rep. John Carney back to Congress, giving him 64 percent of the vote. Both Carper and Carney carried Sussex County.

As for the race for president, Delaware voted for President Barack Obama, giving him nearly 59 percent of the vote compared to Mitt Romney's 40 percent. But in Sussex County, Romney carried the day, with 52,116 votes compared to Obama's 39,971.

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