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Local legislators have remapped districts

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Sen. Gary Simpson says Republicans can take back majority in Senate

Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, is confident in 2012 Republicans could take over the majority in the Delaware Senate for the first time in 40 years.

The Senate minority leader was speaking to members of the Eastern Sussex Republican Club during a meeting June 27 at the Lewes Yacht Club. He was joined by House Minority Whip Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, who represents the 38th District.

Simpson said he is optimistic even with a Democrat-controlled redistricting plan that became law this week. In order for that to happen, Republicans will need to pick up four seats to gain an 11-seat majority.

One of the pivotal seats will be in the county's new district, the 6th Senatorial, that includes Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Henlopen Acres, Lewes and Milton. Simpson said the new district is the most liberal and most Democratic district in Sussex County.

Simpson said another key seat will be the former 6th District seat where a run off election will take place between Senate Minority Whip Liane Sorenson, R-Hockessin, and Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark.

He's confident Sorenson, who was Miss Rehoboth Beach in 1964, can win the seat for the Republicans.

"We will have to work hard, especially in eastern Sussex County," Simpson said.

Both legislators have had their districts redrawn because of population growth in Sussex County. Each district must have about 22,000 residents.

Simpson, who had the largest district in the state, lost 20,000 residents, including the entire City of Lewes, in the new redistricting plan. "It's a very progressive area; I hate to lose it," Simpson said.

Hocker said he lost 25 percent of his district, including the area around the Pyle State Service Center between Roxana and Dagsboro. He also will no longer represent the residents of Dewey Beach. "I understand they should be part of Rehoboth Beach," Hocker said. "They should not be made to go to Bethany Beach to vote."

Hocker said it's critical for groups like the Eastern Sussex Republican Club to work for their candidates. "The candidates can't win the election by themselves," he said.

Simpson and Hocker support legislation that would allow an independent group to conduct the redistricting process every 10 years.

"I'm a strong believer that redistricting is for the constituents and not the party," Hocker said.

Original Publication Date: July 12, 2011

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