Delaware Democrats Aim for Supermajority Status

Sunday Update: In a special election, Ruth Briggs King this weekend held a seat for the Republicans in the Delaware House of Representatives. My preview ...
by | September 11, 2009
 

Sunday Update: In a special election, Ruth Briggs King this weekend held a seat for the Republicans in the Delaware House of Representatives. My preview post follows.

When Republican Joe Booth last month was elected to a Delaware State Senate seat previously held by a Democrat, some accounts indicated that Democrats, strangely enough, were smiling. The reason is that Booth's victory opened up his seat in the Delaware House of Representatives and opened the possibility of a Democratic supermajority. That's what's at stake as the parties contest Booth's 37th District seat in a special election tomorrow.

Delaware Democrats are one vote shy of a three-fifths majority in the House. They already have a three-fifths majority in the Senate. That advantage is significant because it takes a three-fifths vote to override a gubernatorial veto -- though that matters less right now with Democrat Jack Markell in the governor's office.

Perhaps more significantly (or perhaps not, depending on who you ask), Delaware's constitution requires a three-fifths vote to raise taxes. Republicans are warning that if Democrat Rob Robinson wins tomorrow, Democrats will have free rein to raise taxes. In response, Robinson has pledged not to vote for tax increases.

While Republicans caution against giving complete control of the state to one party, Democrats have been hitting Republican candidate Ruth Briggs King for her background as a lobbyist. Gambling and gay rights also have come up, as the News Journal notes.

Everything points to a close election. The 37th is in conservative Sussex County in Southern Delaware, where not even Joe Biden's home-state advantage could produce a win for the Democratic presidential ticket. However, the 37th itself actually has a very slight Democratic lean in voter registration, as the Cape Gazette notes:

Currently, 5,526 voters are Democrat; 5,293 are Republican and 3,051 registered Independent Party or unaffiliated.

Republican voters outweigh Democrats around downtown Georgetown and in unincorporated Lewes. Democrats have a heavier presence in Lewes and north Georgetown.

The two candidates also have shown about equal fundraising success, though Briggs King has substantially more campaign cash thanks to a $30,000 personal loan. We'll know this weekend whether that extra money or fears of a complete Democratic takeover of the state will push the Republican over the top.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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