Democrats and Republicans in Delaware's General Assembly picked their caucus leaders Wednesday after an election in which Democrats swept federal and statewide races and padded their margins in both chambers of the legislature.
Democratic House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf of Rehoboth and Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst of Delaware City retained their leadership posts, while John Mitchell Jr. of Elsmere will replace John Viola of Newark as Majority Whip.
House Republicans also met Wednesday afternoon, keeping Daniel Short of Seaford as Minority Leader and choosing Tim Dukes of Laurel to replace Deborah Hudson of Wilmington as Minority Whip. Hudson, who was first elected in 1994 and was the longest-serving member of the House, was defeated Tuesday by Democratic newcomer Krista Griffith.
On the Senate side, Democrats huddled behind closed doors for several hours Wednesday evening. They then announced that President Pro Tem David McBride of New Castle would remain in that position, while Sen. Nicole Poore of New Castle would become Majority Leader and Sen. Bryan Townsend of Newark will become Majority Whip.
“Joining Senate leadership is both an opportunity and an incredible responsibility that I do not take lightly,” Townsend said in a prepared statement. “I’m thankful for my colleagues’ faith in my ability to carry out these duties and will honor their confidence. All of us come from different backgrounds and experiences, but we are united by a shared belief that government works best when it is committed to doing what is right, not what is easy; to fighting for everyone, not just the privileged few; and to knowing how and where to find common ground with those whose beliefs differ from our own.”
Earlier in the day, Senate Republicans chose Sen. Gerald Hocker of Ocean View as Minority Leader and Sen. Catherine Cloutier of Wilmington as Minority Whip. Hocker replaces Gary Simpson of Milford, who chose not to seek re-election. Cloutier succeeds Greg Lavelle of Wilmington, a veteran lawmaker who was upset in Tuesday's election by Democrat Laura Sturgeon.
Lavelle's loss allowed Democrats to improve their margin in the Senate from 11-10 to 12-9.
Democrats also picked up a seat in the state House by defeating Hudson and now have a 26-15 advantage in that chamber.