MILLSBORO For residents of the 41st District, Saturday's special election is an opportunity to fill a seat in the state House of Representatives that was vacated abruptly last month amid potential disciplinary action.

But for political watchers, Saturday's election to fill the seat vacated by disgraced representative John C. Atkins holds extra significance because of the dwindling number of the Republican majority.

Republicans lost a special election earlier this month for a seat held by former majority leader Wayne A. Smith, who resigned in March to take a job as CEO and president of Delaware Healthcare Association.

If Democrats also capture the 41st District seat Mr. Atkins is a Republican it would shrink the GOP's hold on the chamber to a razor-thin 21-20 majority, which hasn't happened in more than 20 years.

A former Millsboro mayor and town councilman, Mr. Bullock is making his second foray into state politics, running unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in the 2002 district primary.

"I have the experience at a local level, which can be transformed to the state level," said Mr. Bullock, 62, a retired Delaware State Police captain.

"I don't have a position on 113," said Mr. Bullock, who serves on a Department of Transportation task force exploring the issue. "We still have 11 alternatives, so we're not there yet."

DelDOT's funding woes the agency has a projected a $1.5 billion shortfall over the next six years for construction projects are a major concern for Mr. Bullock.

When Mr. Hastings first ran for the Indian River school board 14 years ago, he said people asked why he would want to work in such a thankless position.

"They said you're only going to please half of the people half of the time," said Mr. Hastings, who served on the board for 12 years before being appointed to the state board of education in 2005.

State and local officials and residents are discussing options for generating more electricity, including wind power and a coal gasification plant.

"I want to look outside the box," Mr. Hastings said. "It's time we look at other resources for power. We have long depended on our power plants for energy, but they pollute our air."

Mr. Burton said DelDOT is not solely to blame for its funding woes, noting that "everyone should be held accountable" for not addressing the problem sooner.

He said the state needs to rein in growth throughout the district which includes Long Neck, Millsboro, Dagsboro, Frankford, Selbyville and Gumboro and Sussex County.

All three candidates agree that the compressed election season campaigning has been basically crammed into a five-week period rather than six months would likely prevent them from knocking on every door in the district.

They also tend to shy away from discussing the reason there even is a special election Mr. Atkins resigned in disgrace last month rather than face a reprimand or possible expulsion for his actions during an October DUI stop and subsequent arrest for offensive touching.

Police officers in Ocean City, Md., stopped Mr. Atkins Oct. 29 on suspicion of drunk driving. During the stop, he flashed his legislative identification card.

Although he tested a 0.14 percent blood alcohol content nearly twice the legal limit he was allowed to call for a ride home and not ticketed.

Later that night, Millsboro police were called to Mr. Atkins' house for a domestic dispute. He was arrested and later pleaded guilty to offensive touching for grabbing his wife's arm during an argument.

Shortly after his resignation, Atkins campaign signs began springing up throughout the district. Although he denies he is running a write-in campaign, Mr. Atkins has not discouraged people to write in his name Saturday.

Mr. Hastings said some residents might feel that Mr. Atkins was pushed out of office and are supportive of him, "but I need to focus on my campaign and getting elected."

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