Lewes Republican Sen. Ernie López announces he will retire in 2022
Sen. Ernie López, a Republican from Sussex County, will retire from the General Assembly next year.
The senator has held his beach-bestrewed seat, which includes Milton, Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, since 2013. He was the first Hispanic American elected to the state Senate, according to his biography on the General Assembly's website.
He announced on Friday that he will step down when his term ends in November 2022.
In a statement, López said it has been a "tremendous honor" to be a senator for nearly a decade and that he looks forward to finishing out his term that will include six more months of lawmaking during next year's legislative session that runs from January to the end of June.
In an interview with Delaware Online/The News Journal on Monday, the senator elaborated on why he plans to step down.
He said he made the decision after taking his two daughters on a college tour through New England earlier this month and realizing he "didn't want to miss another day" with them before they go to college.
He plans to work full time at the University of Delaware, where he is currently an extension specialist at the College of Agriculture.
"This was the right time to go out on my own terms," he said.
Of all the Senate districts in lower Delaware, López's is arguably the most purple. It's the only one in red Sussex County where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.
It's also the only Sussex County district where Democrats outnumber voters of other political parties by more than 5,000 registered voters as of July, according to data from the Department of Elections.
López, 44, said he may run for public office in the future.
López is one of seven Republicans in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the only Hispanic Republican in the 62-person General Assembly. He sits on the Education, Finance, Joint Finance, Transportation and Elections and Government Affairs committees.
His retirement means his seat will be up for grabs in the November 2022 midterm election, just after lawmakers will redraw legislative districts following the results of the 2020 U.S. census.
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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.