Delaware Public Media

State Sen. Harris McDowell announces retirement

Jul 1, 2019

Delaware’s longest-serving state senator said he won’t run again in 2020.


Harris McDowell announced his decision to retire next year just before this year’s legislative session adjourned, surprising many of his colleagues.

The North Wilmington Democrat was first elected to the state Senate in 1976.

An emotional McDowell said his wife was the only person he consulted about ending his tenure at Leg Hall at 44 years. He adds he trusts younger lawmakers pick up the torch.

“They’ve added so much and they came hitting the ground with new ideas, thoughts and energy," he said. "God bless you. That’s why Delaware is great and always will be because you’ll be here. By God, I’ll be with you in spirit.”

He said just wants to spend more time with his wife.

“God’s been good to me, I’m in very good health," he said. "And I had said to many people, I didn’t mean it as a lie. I said it and it was wrong. I said ‘If I’m in good health, I’ll run again.’ But Sunee comes first.”

McDowell, who co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee says he hopes other lawmakers will get behind his priorities in his final year. He wants to continue to provide educational resources and funding.

He also wants to rewrite the state’s criminal code.

Senate President Pro Tem David McBride, who was elected to the state legislature in 1977, is the second longest-serving state lawmaker.