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AG Denn won't run again in 2018

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Attorney General says he won’t seek another term.

Matt Denn announced via social media Monday he will not run for re-election in 2018.

Denn says after 14 years in three statewide elected offices he is ready for a change.  He still has a year and four months left in his first term as AG, but says he feels the responsible thing to do is make his intentions known now.

The former Lt. Governor and Insurance Commissioner cites the nature of politics today and its impact on his family as one reason for his decision.

"Politics these days are grueling, with endless fundraising and traveling and constant attacks, which can be tough on a candidate but are even tougher on his family. If I ran again next year it would be my fifth statewide campaign. My boys, now 12, arrived five days before I was sworn in as Insurance Commissioner. I have been immersed in electoral politics since the day they were born. If you do the math, that means my wife soldiered through her first statewide campaign with me while she was pregnant with twins," said Denn in a Facebook post. "Given the time required and the tone involved in politics these days, my boys deserve a change, my wife deserves a change, and I would like a change as well."

He also says he wants to spend more time on work he says “is going to fundamentally change the lives of kids growing up in our state,” though he offered no indication what that might be.

"I don’t know what I’ll be doing in January 2019, but my hope is to be doing something in the private sector where I’ll be able to devote part of my time to ensuring that every single kid in our state has a real opportunity to fulfill his or her potential," said Denn's statement.

Denn was elected Insurance Commissioner in 2004.  He won the Lt. Governor's office in 2008, and again in 2012.  He left the Lt. Governor’s office two years into his second four-year term to run for Attorney General in 2014.  He ran that year after Beau Biden announced he would not seek another term to focus on a 2016 run for Governor.  Biden died of brain cancer in May 2015.

At the time, Denn made the decision to leave the Lt. Governor's office fairly quickly, but said it was a tough choice.

"It wasn't a lot of days, but there were a lot of hours consumed [thinking about it] during those days," Denn told Delaware Public Media in April 2014 "It was a difficult decision because I like what I'm doing right now."

Denn defeated Republican Ted Kittila with 53 percent of the vote in the 2014 Attorney General's race to win the office.

He says he believes he's fulfilled the promise he made when he took office.

"I said when I was sworn in as Attorney General that I wanted the Delaware DOJ to be the best office of its kind in the country, and I believe that today it is. I am proud of the way we have carried out our core duties of protecting and serving Delawareans, and also helped lead the state in important areas such as battling the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, advocating for community policing, and lifting up disadvantaged communities," read Denn's statement Monday.

State Senate President Pro Tem David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) says Denn entered public office forthe right reasons and is leaving for the right reasons as well.

"Matt’s public life has been dedicated to making Delawareans—especially our young people—safer and happier, and I’m confident that he’ll continue to devote his private life to the most vulnerable members of our society," said McBride in a statement. "And, on a personal level, I’m glad for him and his family; particularly his sons, Adam and Zach, who will get to spend more time with their dad at a critical time in their lives."

Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm calls Denn "one of Delaware’s most impactful leaders during his 12 years in public service."

"Like so many Delawareans for whom he has fought, I am sad to learn he will not be seeking another term as Attorney General, where he has played such an important role in stemming the tide of our state’s addiction epidemic, targeting nuisance properties in our most vulnerable communities, and keeping Delawareans safe while also helping to reform our criminal justice system," said Raser-Schramm in a statement. "Even though he will no longer be serving in an elected capacity following next year, I am confident he will continue to lead on these important issues and others in his next role."

Raser-Schramm also thanked Denn for making his decision early.

"I think it gives interested public servants the opportunity to thoughtfully evaluate what they can bring to the Attorney General’s job, and whether they wish to run for the seat. And I’m confident that open process will result in a tremendous Democratic nominee next September that can build on Matt’s work, while bringing his or her own fresh thinking to the Delaware Department of Justice." said Raser-Schramm's statement.

Delaware Republican Party chair Michael Harrington says he expects his party to make a serious bid to take the Attorney General's office in what will now be a race for an open office.

"Matt Denn's announcement has created a clear opening for Republicans in the race for Attorney General. We intend to field a candidate who will make all Republicans proud, and who will serve the all of the citizens of Delaware with dignity and honor," said Harrington in a statement. "There are a number of uniquely qualified individuals who have expressed an interest in running for Attorney General, and I expect that there will be additional names over the next several weeks."

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.