Delaware’s 41st Representative District Race

John Atkins    OR  Rich Collins   The voters of the 41st District have a tough decision to make.   Now some might think otherwise, they might tell you that John Atkins, the incumbent, has years of experience, and has been extremely good at constituent service.

To be honest, it is hard to counter an incumbent who is actually good at constituent service, because as a challenger you don’t have that to lean on.

The incumbent also has a record to either run on, or run from. For the most part John Atkins (D) has a fair record, not one he has to run from, but with enough clunkers to cause him some trouble.

Rich Collins (R) is running as a conservative, and I don’t know that anyone can argue that claim. However, John Atkins like to tout his conservative credentials as well. And truth be told, on some issues, like guns and social issues, he has voted pretty consistently to the right. Not surprising for someone who used to be a Republican, that is before he was asked to step away from his position by the Republican Party.

And this brings me to my point.  In this race it is hard to differentiate between the two candidates based on political ideology. John Atkins as I have said has voted to the right, except maybe on some fiscal issues. Anyone who is paying attention will know that Rich Collins will be voting to the right as well. Rich Collins will most assuredly vote to protect property rights, this has been his major concern for as long as I have known him. It is also safe to expect Rich Collins to vote to protect 2nd Amendment rights as well, he also knows that jobs, and small business are vitally important to the future of the state. I believe that Rich Collins will be a consistent conservative vote. And considering that the 41st district is historically a conservative district, even with redistricting, Rich Collins would be a good fit for the citizens of the 41st.

So if we can agree that both John Atkins, and Rich Collins are conservative in their ideology, we then have to wonder how the people of the 41st are to decide who to vote for. Of course some will vote for Mr. Atkins because he has been there for so long. Others will vote for Mr. Atkins because he got the pot hole at the end of their driveway repaired at no cost to them. Some may vote for him because he is a Democrat, at least right now anyway.

So why should people vote for Rich Collins? Well maybe because he will be fresh blood with fresh ideas, after all, Mr. Atkins has been there a long time, and the state is not in the best of shape. Maybe they will vote for Rich Collins because it is likely he will also be good at taking care of those pot holes as well, and some may vote for him because he is not a Democrat.

So if there is little difference between the two, then we may need to parse this down a little further. Maybe we should ask, does personal integrity in our elected officials matter?

If the answer is yes, then the people have to ask whether they can continue to overlook the personal drama and scandal that is John Atkins’ life.

It seems to all begin with his being pulled over for suspected DUI in Fenwick Island, and for flashing his legislative ID in an attempt to persuade the officer to give him a break. Which is exactly what happened. The same night there was a question of a possible domestic abuse charge.

Mr. Atkins has also had a problem with being pulled over for speeding as he was rushing to Dover, and then writing a scathing letter to the Trooper’s commander, and in this letter makes several veiled threats to the officer and the Delaware State Police, such as being able to affect the funding of the DSP.

There was also the incident in which there were charges of illegal burning of tires and a physical altercation in which Mr. Atkins blamed a couple of work release prisoners who were working on his father in-law’s farm. One of his long time friends in the fire company ended up being thrown under the bus also.

Recently there were again accusations of domestic violence from his now former wife, who also leveled charges that Mr. Atkins was mentally unstable, and often threatened suicide.

So if we have two so-called conservatives running for the same office, then the people of the 41st need to ask themselves, are they best served by John Atkins with all of his baggage and distractions, all the scandal, and all of the publicity? Or would they be better served by Rich Collins who is not trying to recapture his youth, who has a stable family life, and who is seeking to serve the people of the 41st District.

I think that the people of the 41st must be getting fatigued by now, and considering how close the last race between these two men was, this may be the end for John Atkins, but only the voters of the 41st can say.



17 Comments on "Delaware’s 41st Representative District Race"

  1. John Rieley says:

    It is factually incorrect to say that John Atkins was asked to step down from his position or to leave the republican party. He stepped down because he was facing expulsion by the General Assembly and he switched parties so he could run against Greg Hastings.

  2. Frank Knotts says:

    Mr. Rieley, are you saying that the Republican Party was publically supporting Mr. Atkins? Are you saying that behind closed doors that they were not telling him that he was on his own? Are you saying that they were begging him to remain a Republican?

  3. Mike Rowe says:

    Come on Frank, attacking John because of his personal matters should be beneath you, and this site. Go after his voting record and leave his family alone.

  4. waterpirate says:

    There is a reason when men gather and talk, he is reffered to a ” Teflon John “. Scandal and trouble seem to find him, yet nothing sticks. The race was very close last time, this time we will see if the 41st is still split or if the balance has tipped one way or the other.

  5. Frank Knotts says:

    Mike, the point of the post was to point out that in this race the two candidates are similar in their ideology. The question is, does personal integrity matter. Mr. Atkins’ personal life has been very public for a very long time. Did you feel the same about Bill Clinton?
    Did you feel the same way about Vance Phillips? Should the voters not have asked the integrity question in that race? Do you think Rob Arlett would have won that race had Phillips not have had the personal issues that he had?
    Should we elect child molesters, bank robbers, murderers? Where do we draw the line on bad behavior of our elected officials?

  6. Tom Flinn says:

    Frank, You forgot to mention Atkins many visits to S.C.I.

  7. Shaun Rieley says:

    The line between the personal and the political is an artificial distinction. The nature of all political communities is to strive for the good and the just. When those who administer a political community are not themselves good and just, it is impossible for them to work toward a good and just government: how will the know when a proposal is good? how will they be able to determine whether a law is just?

    Because humans are by nature political animals (meaning we need to live in political communities in order to survive and to flourish), the dichotomy between “public” and “private” is a false one, and only serves to obscure the truth about our nature as humans.

    Mr. Adkins has shown himself incapable of being either good or just, even if he often votes the “right” way.

  8. Pat Fish says:

    John Atkins got expelled because of the incident in Ocean City. I was there and one of the ones who voted him out.

    The guy is full of himself and let’s not forget the Protection from Abuse filed against him.

    Oh, and his habit of getting prisoners to work on his personal stuff.

    Oh….well I could go on.

    There’s no question at all….Rich Collins….throw Atkins out of there.

  9. Brian says:

    The fact remains that John will be able to accomplish a lot more for the 41st District as member of the majority than Rich will be able to accomplish as a member of the minority. Personal drama aside, isn’t representing the interests of their constituents what our officials are elected to do? Like him or hate him, John is accessible; exceptionally good at constituent service and represents the conservative values of the 41st District. Unfortunately, embellished allegations and PFA’s are a standard tactic used to gain an advantage in domestic disputes these days. Both parties filed them (Heather first and John in response). Both were eventually withdrawn and John ended up with custody of his children. Of course, that liberal rag known as the News Journal never reported the outcome. However, the result should tell you something about the veracity of the claims. Notions of moral superiority aside, none of us are perfect. We are all sinners and have fallen short. We are not electing a spouse, but a representative. A family’s personal struggles should remain private. The only question we should ask is who would be a more effective legislator: A man who has a proven track record of results or a man who is afraid to debate his opponent? If Rich can’t even stand up for himself in a debate against John, how can we expect him to stand up for us in Dover?

  10. Old Sussex County Native says:

    “I have had a lot of interaction with John from my job. He always responded promptly to situations, or got the right people to respond to situations in our community. My feelings about his personal life are the same as I’d have of a surgeon, or a craftsman. If they get the job done well, I don’t care what goes on in his private life.”

    “if an elderly lady called at 4:00 Am to John and said “my basement is flooded” — not only would the fire company show up to pump it out, odds are John would be there helping”

    The above summation is what I hear in the circles I travel in. Seems like the reason he got back in is because when people called him, he got back to them. I don’t even live in John’s district, so I don’t have a dog in the fight as they say — but this kind of stuff is what I hear.

  11. Frank Knotts says:

    Brian, much of what you say is true. However, when you are an elected official, and your “private” issues escalate to the point they become public, then the people have a right to judge your judgment and ability to act in a reasonable manner.
    I agree that we are all imperfect, and our sins are our burden, but much of what Mr. Atkins has done pertains to man’s laws. And since he is elected to make and enforce those laws, it is relevant to question his lack of respect for them and his inability to conform to them.

  12. fightingbluehen says:

    It seems like every time I go on Facebook I see a picture of John Atkins doing a good deed.
    Just last night he was working the chains at a football game.
    The guy is a social media genius.

  13. fightingbluehen says:


  14. Say it Ain't so says:

    Yeah, but how long after the election will we be embarrassed by another DUi arrest, another attempt to get a young witness to lie to the police, another speeding ticket and rant to the State Police, another fire of burning tires, another inappropriate visit to the sussex prison, another “protection from abuse order” spilling into the public domain? It will never end, you just need to vote for the guy knowing that. Oh, and tell your kids he is not a role model. Controversy follows him like his shadow.

  15. Frank Knotts says:

    FBH, and a more cynical person might ask, what he trying to hide? As Say It Ain’t so pointed out, the people of the 41st must ask themselves, is the public displays of public service worth the drama, and can they be sure that another scandal won’t arise and force him to once again change parties, maybe he go to the IPOD.

  16. mouse says:

    Collins is a lobbyist for polluters and out of state developers who build over priced unaffordable (locally) homes for transplants with foreign labor and pay no impact fees

  17. Gerald says:

    Frank, wrong again. Anyone’s personal life with all its colorful martial woes, which happens to be most everyone that is married across the country, frankly has no business being mentioned or dragged through a election campaign season unless it interfers with his/her duties. John’s private life does not interfere with his duties as a effective legislator for the 41st district. If the people of the 41st think that it does, they will vote him out. But its not up to outsiders of the 41st district chastise over his personal affairs when domestics are part of everyday life in America. I am almost certain that the people who yell and shout the loudest have their own martial problems. Go John Adkins, kick butt!

Got something to say? Go for it!