Return Day Signals End of Election Cycle

State Representative-elect Steve Smyk and his wife ride in the Return Day Parade.


Staff Report

The 2012 election cycle officially ended in Delaware on Thursday with the staging of Return Day — an anachronistic event that has long since become a beloved tradition and a symbolic way of transitioning from the contentiousness of the political races to the theoretically less contentious business of governing the state.

The event can trace its roots back to Sussex County’s early history, when the county seat was moved in 1791 from Lewes to the more geographically central site of Georgetown. Voters in those post-Colonial days were required to travel to Georgetown to cast their ballots, returning two days later to hear the results.

The results of the 2012 elections have introduced new players onto the political stage in the General Assembly, but control of the two chambers remains firmly in the hands of majority Democrats.

Democrats gained one seat in the State House of Representatives, where they now hold 27 of the 41 seats. In the Senate, Democrats lost one seat but still outnumber minority Republicans, 13 to 8.

While the overall numbers of Republicans and Democrats will not be much changed in the 147th General Assembly, there will be plenty of new faces. In the State House, nine of the 41 members will be freshmen. The State Senate will have an even larger percentage of rookies, with six of the 21 members new to the chamber — although two of the new arrivals are not strangers to Legislative Hall. Senators-elect Greg Lavelle and Gerald Hocker were both long-serving state representatives before successfully making the jump to the upper house.

Although all state legislators elected on Tuesday are now in the service of their constituents, they will not officially take their oaths of office until January 8th, when the new General Assembly meets for the first time.