The 6th Representative District and the 7th Representative District are adjacent districts in Brandywine Hundred . Recent political events have made the two seem like reverse mirrors, reflecting similar outcomes in opposite directions. In 2007 a Republican incumbent in the 7th district , Wayne Smith,resigned and a Democrat, Bryon Short, won the Special Election for the seat. In 2008 a Democrat incumbent ,State Representative Diana McWilliams, resigned in the 6th Representative District and a Republican , Tom Kovach, won the Special Election for that seat.
There are several similarities in these victories. Each winner had a registration disadvantage, although Short’s opponent’s 100 plus Republican edge seems more surmountable than the 2700plus registration deficit Kovach faced. Each victor won a majority of votes cast, but won less than a majority of the election districts (voting units which are not all the same size) involved. Kovach won in 5 of 12 election districts . Short won in 5 of 14 election districts. Kovach won with 51.2% of votes cast districtwide . Short won with 52.6% of votes cast districtwide. The five districts Kovach won represented 38.7% of total registered voters in the 6th. The five districts Short won represented 38.4 % of total registered voters in the 7th.
The 8 day campaign finance reports indicate that in the weeks leading up to the Special Election each winner was outdistanced by his opponent in campaign fund-raising. Republican Jim Bowers reported raising $68,159.85 in contributions and $10,000 in loans from the candidate for a total of $78, 159.85 received. Short reported $ 43,811.00 in cash contributions,$403.05 in loans from candidate and in $749.58 in-kind donations.
Democrat Mike Migliore’s finance report states between 11-20-2008 and 12-12-2008 he received $34,140.00 and lent his campaign $718.75. Tom Kovach got started a few days later and his report is from 12-1-2008 to 12-12-2008 ,a period during which he collected $10,375.00 .
Each won the five districts they won by enough to offset losses in a majority of the other election districts, but turnout was an important difference in the impact of these election districts towards overall victory . In the 6th District on Dec 20, 2008 Kovach won the 1st,2nd ,6th, 7th and 9th Election Districts of the 6th Representative District 893-654. He won this group of 1547 voters with a 57.8% victory margin . This 1547 represented 51.47% of the 3007 votes cast districtwide. In the 7th District race which was held on April 14, 2007 Short won his five winning Election Districts (the 1st, 4th,5th, 6th & 7th Election Districts of the 7th Representative District) with 67.3%, 1006 to 494, but the 1494 votes cast in his winning Election Districts only represented 34.6% of total turnout of 4323. Due to higher overall turnout Short, despite winning in his strong support districts by better than two to one, only won overall by 1.4% more than Kovach won in his lower turnout race. Basically, Short’s winning margin here was diluted by the higher overall turnout, including areas where he was not as strong.
Bryon Short won the 2007 Special Election by a 2275 to 2048 margin. Jim Bowers had a rematch in the 2008 general election and Short won more decisively, by 6281 to 4443.
Kovach won by only 73 votes, beating Mike Migliore by 1540 to 1467. It will be interesting in 2010 to see how heated the contest is for each of these seats.
All numbers quoted are from either the New Castle County Board of Elections website
or the State of Delaware Election Commissioner’s website