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Exec. director of Delaware GOP to step down

After more than three years, the executive director of the Delaware GOP is stepping down.

John Fluharty announced Tuesday that he plans to leave that post by the end of the year.


He says he's not sure what's next for him, but "it's time to kind of hand the baton to someone else and let them take a lap."

Fluharty says he's pleased with the strides Republicans made during his time as the party's operational head -- up to and including the GOP's loss to Democrats in Saturday's special election in a Newark house district.

"It was a district where we are out-registered 3 to 1, and people didn't even think we'd have a candidate," he says. "And we broke 43 percent. I mean, that's amazing."

Fluharty feels the Republican party has made a comeback in Delaware in the past couple of years. He says he made a point of broadening the party's borders while he was executive director -- even when it wasn't popular with everyone. Fluharty took some heat from First State Republicans when he came out as gay in 2013. But he says he's "more proud of that decision that any other decision I have made in my life."

"I think, on a personal level, any time a person takes ownership of their life and who they are, they become a better person," he says. "I think it was good for my party."

That's because it brought more Republicans to the table, he says, at a time when economic and educational issues are impacting families of all sorts in the First State.

"Now that the [Supreme] Court has ruled on marriage equality, there are a bunch of other issues that I think directly impact the LGBT community where they should take a second look at Republicans," he says. "And quite frankly, Republicans need to be ready to offer members of the community a seat at the table."

Fluharty sees today's GOP as divided into pro-tradition and pro-freedom camps. He's among the latter -- but he says no one is in "lock-step" with their political party on every issue.

"So in that regard, you need to look for common ground. You need to look at the issues that are really important to America and Delaware today, and you need to build your coalitions around those issues," he says. "And right now, it's jobs and the economy."

Fluharty says he's optimistic that the GOP will pick up more legislative seats in all three counties in the next election cycle. His successor, who will help with that mission, hasn't yet been appointed. Party's chair Charlie Copeland will make that call.