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Special election date set for 18th Representative District

Delaware Public Media

Voters in the 18th Representative District will head to the polls Saturday, Sept. 12 to replace outgoing Rep. Michael Barbieri (D-Newark).

Barbieri announced in July he’s leaving the Newark area House seat to lead the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for $144,000 a year salary.

Democrat David Bentz, a legislative aide for Barbieri, will face Eileen O’Shaughnessy-Coleman, a Republican who has lived in the district for nearly 25 years.

Should Democrats lose the seat, they will no longer control the super majority in the House needed to pass tax or fee increases without support from the GOP. The party lost that ability in the state Senate last year when Bryant Richardson (R-Laurel) unseated longtime Sen. Robert Venables.

Criticism over each party’s choice came immediately, with Republicans accusing House Democratic leaders of handpicking a successor from within, although a district committee voted to make Bentz the nominee.

Democrats fired back Thursday, pointing out that the state Republican Party chose O’Shaughnessy-Coleman through an interview process.

Whichever candidate wins will serve until the general election in November 2016 and must run for reelection should he or she want another term.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) will officially file paperwork for the Sept., 12 special election on Monday. 

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