Sussex State Senator Lopez won’t seek re-election

Posted on 07-20-2021

Analysis, Delaware, Downstate, Law, Sussex County

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Delaware  Republican State Sen. Ernie Lopez will not seek re-election.

Lopez released the following through the Senate Republican Caucus:

It is with many thanks and humility to the people of the 6th District that I wish to announce, I will not be seeking re-election to a fourth term in the Delaware State Senate.  It has been a tremendous honor to serve you and your families for the last decade and I look forward to continuing that dedicated service until the end of my current term on November 8, 2022.


Lopez’ Senate District Six includes the Lewes-Rehoboth, Dewey Beach, and Milton areas in coastal  Sussex County. He has served as a state senator since 2012.

Lopez is one of two state Latino/Latina state senators. The other is State Sen. Laura Sturgeon,  north Wilmington, whose parents immigrated from Argentina.

Republicans lost clout in the 2020 election with two defeats in northern Delaware Senate districts. As a result, Republicans no longer have Senate seats in the state’s most populous county (New Castle).

The losses meant Republicans could not block or delay legislation requiring a supermajority vote unless Democrats cross over.

Democrats have an edge in voter registrations in the 6th,  although Republican presidential candidates have carried the district in the past decade.  Within the 6th District boundaries is the second home of President Joe Biden.

The General Assembly is slated to undertake the process of redistricting later this year. As a result, boundary changes are possible in the fast-growing senate district that could favor Democrats.

Lopez, a moderate Republican,  maintained a pro-business stance, while sometimes crossing party lines.  He serves in a Republican Senate Caucus that has become increasingly conservative.

The progressive group Delaware United ranked Lopez in the second tier of legislators when it came to his political stance. Most of his Republican colleagues were in the third and fourth-tiers.

Lopez won his last term by a 53.7 to 47.3  margin over his Democratic opponent, not a large majority in a state where incumbents often coast to victory.

Early in his legislative career, Lopez voted against legalizing same-sex marriages, despite the 6th District having a sizable LGBT community. – Doug Rainey