Members of the House and Senate Republican Caucus met Nov. 28 to select leadership for the new General Assembly.
Serving as House Minority Leader will be Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford. First elected in 2006, Short previously served as House Minority Whip in the 145th General Assembly.
Although Democrats hold a 27 to 14 majority in the House, Rep. Short said the Minority Caucus will play an active role in influencing Delaware’s public policy. “Our members collectively represent the interests of more than 300,000 Delawareans and we are going to make sure their voices are heard in Dover.”
Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, was selected as House Minority Whip. With 18 years of service, Hudson is the longest-tenured member of the Republican Caucus. This is her first leadership position. “With this process behind us, we’re looking forward as a group to engaging in the debates on taxes, legalized gaming and other issues that await us in the new session,” Hudson said.
The Minority Caucus leadership posts were open since the lawmakers that previously served in those positions - Rep. Greg Lavelle and Rep. Gerald Hocker - both left the House in successful bids for the state Senate.
House Democrats met last week, selecting Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, as Speaker of the House; Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, as Majority Leader; and Rep. John Viola, D-Newark, as Majority Whip.
The Delaware State Senate Republican Caucus selected Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, to remain Senate Minority Leader. He has served as Senate Minority Leader for the past four years.
Simpson said the top priority for his caucus – and the entire legislature – is the economy.
“I think the greatest challenge we’ll face this year is balancing the budget. We’ve got some taxes that are due to sunset this year,” Simpson said, referring to increases in state personal income, gross receipts, franchise and estate taxes. “We’ve got to make sure those taxes are not extended in order to put more money in the hands of Delaware’s people.”
Also during the caucus’ first meeting since the election, Lavelle, R-Sharpley, was selected to serve as Minority Whip. Lavelle, the former House Minority Leader, said he looks forward to working with his new caucus members, the governor, and the entire building to move the state forward.
“We are facing a lot of significant issues,” he said. “Such as issues of finance, and we have expiring tax increases that need to be dealt with. We continue to have an economy that needs to be improved.”
Hocker, R-Ocean View, the former House Minority Whip, also joined the Senate this year, along with Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, and Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes.
In the Senate, Republicans picked up one seat in the election to cut the Democrats’ lead to 13-8.
Senators will meet Wednesday, Dec. 5, to consider gubernatorial appointments requiring Senate approval.
Both chambers will convene Tuesday, Jan. 8.