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Republican-held State Senate seat in New Castle County draws interest from Democrats

Delaware Public Media

One state senate race in northern New Castle County is generating a lot of interest among Democratic candidates. 


So far, three Democrats have launched campaigns to challenge the 5th Senate District’s incumbent Republican Cathy Cloutier, who has represented Arden and parts of Brandywine Hundred for almost two decades. There were no primary elections for the 5th Senate District seat during the last two election cycles.


Credit Courtesy of Eric Levin

 Despite the district’s Republican representation in the state Senate, voter registration numbers there favor Democrats. Registered Democrats have outnumbered Republicans in the district for at least the past nine years, and the gap has widened over the past five. Now there are upwards of four thousand more Democratic voters in the district than Republicans. There are roughly 8,700 independent voters there.

Educational entrepreneur Eric Levin plans to run as a self-described “Joe Biden” moderate, and sees the voter registration gap creating interest in the seat this year. 

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Donald Trump is on the ticket. It’s 2020. There’s a 4,000 seat registration difference,” said Levin. “When people look at that, they say, wow, that means we’re automatically going to flip the seat. The reality though is that Ms. Cloutier is still very popular. So you have to be able to give a reason why you’re better.”

Credit Courtesy of Jeffrey Politis

Town Chair of the Village of Arden and stay-at-home dad Jeffrey Politis says the time was right, personally, for him to run this year.

“My interest is I feel like we can do more,” he said. “I think we can do more at the state level, I think we can do more in the community.”

Attorney Kyle Gay is the only candidate currently filed for the race. “When I had the experience of seeing at the state level, especially in Delaware, just how impactful and transformative our policymaking can be, I realized that is where I want to contribute, and where I think I can help the most and do the most good,” she said. 

Gay says as a millenial and a parent, she feels the responsibility to be an advocate. But she says the current political moment feels like the right time to run. 


Credit Courtesy of Kyle Evans Gay

"Why wouldn’t someone want to do this now?” she said. “So many people have been re-engaged with politics. I’ve always been engaged, but I’ve been so highly cognisant that there’s no time like now to stand up.”

All three Democrats so far planning to run name economic opportunity and education among the top issues they want to work on. Levin also plans to focus on infrastructure, Politis adds healthcare, and Gay emphasizes criminal justice reform. 

Cathy Cloutier announced she would seek re-election in November. She did not respond to a request for an interview. 

Cloutier beat Democrat Christopher Counihan in 2012 by 12 percentage points, and Democrat Denise Bowers in 2016 by 19 points. 

In the neighboring 4th Senate District, incumbent Republican Greg Lavelle was ousted by Democrat and political newcomer Laura Sturgeon in 2018.


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.
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