Posted: April 24, 2003
SUSSEX REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Keller Hopkins, the Sussex County Republican
chairman who ran the most impressive Election Day operation in the
state, is resigning his post in May, about halfway through his
four-year term, to devote more time to his family construction firm.
Hopkins told party officials Tuesday he would
step aside after the Republican state convention, scheduled for May
17 in Dover, to concentrate on Hopkins Construction Inc., a
Bridgeville company he started with a couple of dump trucks in 1988
that has grown to a multi-million dollar operation with 35
""I've been an absentee owner at Hopkins. I've
poured myself into politics, and I've loved every day of it, but I
also love Hopkins. For the next six months, I need to focus 100
percent of my time on my business," Hopkins said.
Sussex Republican officials have set up a
committee, chaired by state Sen. F. Gary Simpson of Milford, to plan
It met for the first time on Thursday morning
and expects to schedule an election within 60 days of Hopkins'
departure for the county committeemen and committeewomen to vote on
his replacement. Hopkins' successor will serve for the rest of his
term, which lasts until April 2005 and includes the 2004
presidential-year election season.
"There has been a tremendous amount
accomplished under Keller's leadership. Keller understandably has to
take care of the personal aspects of his life. The committee is
going to encourage people to step forward and continue the work,"
said Sussex County Councilman Vance C. Phillips, a member of the
Under Hopkins, the Sussex County Republican
Party organized the best get-out-the-vote drive for the 2002
election. It was a crucial element in stopping a decade-long slide
for the Delaware GOP, which lost three gubernatorial races in a row
and a U.S. Senate seat in that time.
In 2002 the Republicans held their own in the
statewide contests, re-electing all of their incumbents -- U.S. Rep.
Michael N. Castle, Attorney General M. Jane Brady and Auditor R.
Thomas Wagner Jr. -- and also picked up three seats in the state
House of Representatives, all in Sussex County, to increase their
majority in the chamber to 29-12.
Sussex County Republicans turned out 57
percent of their voters, the best performance in the state. Sussex
County Democrats were next at 51 percent. Turnout for both parties
in New Castle County and Kent County was below 50 percent.
The Sussex Republican turnout was called the
"story in this election" by Joseph A. Pika, a University of Delaware
"The evidence of the mobilization is
astonishing," Pika said.
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