Sussex County voters will head to the polls on Sept. 11 for the primary election. But in Georgetown, next Tuesday’s primary will be almost exclusively for Republicans.
While local GOP voters will choose their party’s general election candidates for U.S. Congress, the District 19 state senate seat and the District 2 Sussex County Council seat, Georgetown Democrats will cast ballots only in the statewide races for U.S. Senator and state insurance commissioner.
With that in mind, here are five things to know about this year’s primary.
1 Know the local races
Arguably the most hotly-contested race in Georgetown this fall is the Republican primary between incumbent Joseph W. Booth and challenger Eric Bodenweiser. These two previously faced off in 2010, with Booth beating out Bodenweiser by only 120 votes. District 19 also includes Bridgeville, Millsboro and Long Neck.
Republicans in Georgetown also will help choose a candidate for the District 2 county council race on Tuesday. Incumbent Sam Wilson is facing a challenge from John J. Christensen.
2 Other primary contests in Sussex County
The real action in this year’s primary election will take place in districts outside of Georgetown, particularly to the west where reapportionment has created entirely new state senate and state representative seats.
There will be Republican and Democratic primaries for state senate seat in District 6, which includes Milton, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach. Ernesto B. Lopez and Glen Urquhart will face off in the Republican primary, while Robert G. Frederick and Andrew W. Stanton will vie to become the Democratic candidate for that seat.
Democrats also will choose their general election candidate in state representative Districts 20 and 40 on Tuesday.
In District 20, which includes Milton, Lewes and Harbeson, Marie M. Mayor, Thomas D. Jones Sr. and Lynn Rogers are vying to become the Democrats’ official candidate in the general election.
In District 40, which includes Laurel and Delmar, Democrats will select Raymond C. Adkins or Benjamin D. Lowe as their candidate to replace outgoing state Rep. Biff Lee.
Sussex County Republicans, meanwhile, will likely choose the next state senator in District 18, the next state representative in District 39 and the next Sussex County Councilman in District 1, because no Democrat has filed to run in those races.
In state senate District 18, which includes Milford, Greenwood, Ellendale and Slaughter Beach, incumbent Republican F. Gary Simpson will face challenger Matthew A. Opaliski. In state representative District 39, which includes Seaford and Blades, incumbent Daniel B. Short will face challenger Patrick J. Murray. And in county council District 1, which includes Bridgeville and Seaford, incumbent council president Michael H. Vincent will face challenger Scott R. Witzke.
3 Expect a strong turnout
Kenneth L. McDowell, director of the Sussex County Department of Election, said he expects there to be high turnout on Tuesday as a result of the large number or primary contests among Republicans and Democrats.
Page 2 of 2 - “Having 10 local races and three statewide contests on the ballots in Sussex County is a record for me and I’ve been doing this for 21 years,” he said. “The county is getting new state senate and state representative districts this year because of reapportionment, so you’re getting a lot of competition for seats that don’t have incumbents. That in turn, I think, will help drive voter turnout up to 30 to 35 percent.”
4 Know your polling place
As a result of reapportionment, every election district in Sussex County has changed this year, which means thousands of voters have been assigned all new polling places.
“I’m sure there is going to be some confusion about what polling place voters need to go to,” McDowell said. “We’ve been getting calls for a few weeks now so I know a lot of people haven’t read the new polling card that we sent to them in the mail telling them where they vote now.”
Voters who lost their polling card or who still aren’t sure where to cast their ballot can call the Sussex County Department of Elections at (302) 856-5367 or use the online polling place locator at pollingplace.delaware.gov.
5 Know your party affiliation
In just about every primary, someone tries to vote for a party to which they do not belong, McDowell said.
“We’ve had people insist that they should be allowed to vote in the Republican primary because they’ve been a Republican for 40 years,” he said. “Then we check the records and it turns out they’ve been a Democrat for 40 years.”
Delaware’s has closed primaries, which means only registered Republicans can vote in Republican primaries and only registered Democrats can vote in Democrat primaries.
Unaffiliated voters cannot cast ballots on Primary Day and there are no third-party primaries in Sussex County this election cycle.
“If you’re not sure whether you can vote, give us a call,” McDowell said.