Schwartzkopf faces challenger in Democratic primary

Rehoboth native Nelson Warren files at deadline
July 9, 2014

For the first time in Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf's political career, he will have to face off against an opponent in a Democratic primary for the District 14 Representative seat.

Rehoboth Beach resident Nelson Warren filed his nomination paperwork with the Sussex County Department of Elections in Georgetown July 8, the day of the filing deadline.

“I was waiting to see if anyone else was going to put their hat in the ring, and no one did,” said Warren, a member of the Warren family that operates Rustic Acres farm off Holland Glade Road, on why he waited until the last possible day to file. “I'm a nice guy. I'm not wealthy. I'm about as average as they come. I'm just a hardworking guy who thinks a lot of things need to be changed.”

Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, has represented the district since it was created in 2002, spending the last two years as speaker of the House. He said he doesn't personally know Nelson, but is looking forward to the process of letting constituents know what the two candidates think.

“It's a job interview with the district,” said Schwartzkopf. “I've been interviewed six times, and all six times the voters have elected me. I would hope that continues.”

There are no Republican challengers for the district seat, which represents the towns of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Henlopen Acres.

Statewide races

The District 14 race will not be the only primary taking place in Sussex County Tuesday, Sept. 9. At the state level there are an additional five races.

In the race for U.S. Senator, there will be a Republican primary between Carl Smink of Milton and Kevin Wade of New Castle. Smink is a Air Force veteran and long-time federal government contractor. Wade is a professional engineer who lost U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper in 2012. The winner of this primary will take on U.S. Sen. Chris Coons.

For state treasurer, both parties will have a primary.

Incumbent Chip Flowers Jr. will face off against Sean Barney in the Democratic primary. Flowers is from Middletown and has held the position since January 2011. Barney is from Smyrna and, most recently, has served as policy director for Gov. Jack A. Markell.

On the Republican side, Rehoboth Beach native Ken Simpler with face off against Milton resident Sher Valenzuela, who filed July 8. Simpler is the chief financial officer for the Rehoboth Beach-based Seaboard Hotels and previously managed a successful, billion-dollar portfolio for a global financial institution, Citadel LLC. Valenzuela was named Delaware Small Businesswoman of the Year in 2012 and runs a successful industrial upholstery factory in Milford with her husband, Eli, that employs 75 people.

In the race for state auditor, two Wilmington-based candidates will be vying for the opportunity to take on Republican incumbent Tom Wagner, who has been in the seat for 25 years. Kenneth A. Matlusky, a CPA who ran for the position four years ago, will face off against Brenda Mayrack, a lawyer and the Democratic Party's past executive director.

In Senate District 18, Gary M. Wolfe of Greenwood will face off against Patrick J. Emory of Lincoln. Wolfe is an operations manager at Merck Animal Health in Millsboro. Emory is a former director of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish and Wildlife and is currently the director of the Office of Community Services for DNREC.

This district stretches across the northern part of Sussex County from the Delaware Bay to the Maryland state line, representing part of Milford, Slaughter Beach, Ellendale and Greenwood.

Sussex County seats

There will be four primaries for Sussex County seats, with three of them being in the Republican party.

In what could be one of the more hotly contested local races, there will be a Republican primary for the Sussex County sheriff seat.

Incumbent Jeffrey S. Christopher of Greenwood will face off against Robert T. Lee of Seaford.

Christopher is in his first term as sheriff. He attracted national attention in his effort to redefine the role of county sheriff, which led to a long, legal battle with state and county officials. Christopher said the state constitution allows his office to carry out law enforcement duties. The Delaware Supreme Court ruled it does not.

Lee has nearly four decades of law enforcement experience and has gone on record saying that the sheriff’s office does not need arrest powers.

Both Republicans and Democrats will have primaries in the race for the Sussex County Council District 5 race.

On the Republican side, Councilman Vance Phillips of Laurel will face off against Robert B. Arlett of Frankford. Phillips has represented the district since 1998. Arlett owns Beach Bound Realty and serves as chairman for the Republican Party in the state’s 30th Representative District.

On the Democratic side, S. Bradley Connor of Dagsboro is facing off against Robert C. Wheatley of Laurel. Connor is a local businessman who has served more than two decades as mayor of Dagsboro. Wheatley is also a businessman who is the current chairman of the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission.

District 5 represents southern Sussex County, including the towns of Dagsboro, Delmar, Fenwick Island, Frankford, Laurel, Millsboro, Selbyville and South Bethany.

The final primary taking place in Sussex County will be a Republican race for register of wills. Incumbent Cynthia Green of Greenwood will be taking on Brian D. Butler of Greenwood.

For a full list of candidates for all districts, visit the Sussex County Department of Elections website at