'Tea party' on a roll: Can Christine O'Donnell win in Delaware?
After toppling moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, the 'tea party' it setting its sights on Delaware. Tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell is challenging moderate US Rep. Mike Castle in this month's GOP US Senate primary.
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But this is far from a normal midterm election year. The glow is off President Obama, the economy continues to bump along, and an unusual number of likely voters are inclined to punish incumbents of both parties.Skip to next paragraph
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Reflecting (and helping generate) this political tumult is the tea party movement. It rattled the GOP with the nomination of Sharron Angle in Nevada as well as with Murkowski’s loss in Alaska. It played a role in Sen. Bob Bennett’s primary defeat in Utah and in Florida Gov. Charlie Christ’s forced jump from the GOP to independent status in the US Senate race there.
Castle’s problem in Delaware is similar to Senator Bennett's problem in Utah: He’s not a fire-breathing conservative among Republicans – much less a pox-on-both-your-houses tea partyer.
“Mike Castle is so liberal he voted for Barack Obama's agenda nearly 60 percent of the time,” claims the rough cut of a Tea Party Express ad on behalf of O’Donnell obtained by Atlantic online. “He voted for the bailouts. He voted for the antibusiness cap-and-trade. He supports in-state tuition for illegal aliens. And he even opposes repealing Obama's health-care scheme.”
“It’s time to retire this liberal RINO!” (Republican in name only), declares the Tea Party Express fundraising ad for O’Donnell.
According to a Tea Party Express poll released Thursday, O’Donnell trails Castle by just 2 percentage points.
There are questions about the accuracy of the poll. Still, writes Jeremy Jacobs at National Journal’s Hotline Oncall, “These new numbers suggest that Castle is significantly more vulnerable than originally believed.”
It remains an uphill battle for O’Donnell. Castle’s attack ads, plus help from the national party and other supporters, undoubtedly will illuminate her negatives. And unlike Joe Miller in Alaska, she does not (yet) have Sarah Palin’s endorsement.
The Tea Party Express expects to spend $250,000 on ads for O’Donnell running up to the Sept. 14 primary election. If Castle is defeated, the tea party movement will be able to notch one more in its growing list of political victories.