Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State House and Senate Minority Whips ousted by Democratic challengers

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Sturgeon celebrates her win with other Democrats Tuesday

Two close races resulted in the ousting of prominent Republican lawmakers from the General Assembly Tuesday night.

Former Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle has held a seat in the General Assembly since 2000. He lost to political newcomer Laura Sturgeon by roughly a thousand votes.

Sturgeon’s campaign focused on social issues and education, but she concedes the broader political climate had a lot to do with her win.

“They were coming out I think to send a message to Washington. And I happened to be down that ballot,” she said. “I lucked out.”

Sturgeon emphasized gender equality and a woman’s right to choose during the campaign, and says she’s proud to add to the number of women in the state Senate.

“I’m just so happy to have another woman,” she said. “We need to have like twelve, eleven or twelve, women to make it even. But hey, every step. Every advancement counts.”

Her win brings the number of women in the state Senate from four to five.

Lavelle declined to comment on his loss to Delaware Public Media Tuesday night, but in a Facebook post congratulated Sturgeon and thanked voters. He wrote that he’s “not going away,” and will continue to “engage at every chance.”  

Sturgeon’s win extends Democrats’ Senate majority to 12-9.

House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson was also ousted by a Democratic newcomer Krista Griffith— who won by six percentage points. Hudson had held the seat for more than two decades.

Griffith says the so-called “blue wave” is not the only thing behind her victory.

“Of course it’s part of that broader energy, but I have to give credit to my individual team for the work that they put in. Because it was a very voter-driven race,” she said. “We truly reached out to individual voters. ”

Griffith’s victory gives Democrats a 26-15 House majority.

Democrats also hoped to take the 22nd Representative District— where longtime Republican legislator Joe Miro retired. Democrat Guillermina Gonzalez lost to Republican Mike Smith by just 140 votes. The district has roughly even party registration.

And Democrat Stephanie Barry’s challenge to incumbent Republican State Rep. Mike Ramone in the 21st District was also unsuccessful. She lost by about 400 votes.


Dover State Sen. Colin Bonini maintained his seat in the 16th Senate District despite a challenge by Democrat Louisa Phillips. Sen. Bonini won by ten percentage points.


This story has been updated.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
Related Content