This year's redistricting presents both opportunity and potential struggles for Delaware Republicans.
Following the results of the 2010 Census, Delaware's congressional district lines have been redrawn to reflect the higher population growth in the southern, more conservative, part of the state. The party sees the potential to re-establish itself in Delaware politics and has set sights on regaining control of the state Senate.
As the race for the newly drawn 6th District shows, however, Republicans in southern Delaware are wary of too much northern influence. Some are suspicious of candidate Ernesto Lopez, who has ties to the GOP establishment. South Delaware Republican committeeman Christian Hudson sees Lopez as a candidate "upstate politicians... [are] cramming... down our throat."
Previous U.S. House candidate and current Sussex County GOP Chair Glen Urquhart, who won a bitter 2010 primary thanks to support from Delaware's southern districts, quickly responded by announcing his candidacy to represent the 6th District.
The south Delaware Republicans tend to be more conservative than their northern counterparts, and they flexed their muscles in the 2010 primaries, helping Urquhart upset Michele Rollins and putting Christine O'Donnell over the establishment candidate Mike Castle in the U.S. Senate race. Both Urquhart and O'Donnell ultimately lost in the general election.
Former Sussex County GOP Chair Bruce Rogers says Urquhart's campaign is "certainly not helpful to the Republican Party," as it creates a fight in a solidly Republican district. Nevertheless, he says, the redistricting is overall "a huge opportunity to get closer to striking distance, if not control of the Delaware state Senate."