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Could Mike Castle be part of a new Republican middle?

Ultra-conservative 'tea party' candidates have gotten most of the attention this election cycle. But Mike Castle of Delaware is one of several moderate conservatives who could also win this fall.

By Staff writer / September 8, 2010

Delaware Republican Senate candidate Rep. Michael Castle talks at the Festival Hispano in Millsboro, Del., Aug. 22.

Gail Burton/AP/file

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Washington

Much has been made of the conservative "tea partyers" who look poised to send a posse of new senators to Washington – starting with Joe Miller of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah. Ken Buck of Colorado also has an excellent shot at winning, and Sharron Angle remains competitive against Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.

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But the middle isn’t hollowing out. In fact, the ranks of Republican Senate centrists could grow as a result of November’s midterm election, following on the heels of Republican Scott Brown’s improbable election to the Senate from Massachusetts last January.

Exhibit A is Rep. Mike Castle (R) of Delaware, who is expected to win his primary next Tuesday against the "tea party" backed Christine O’Donnell and then win in the general. Congressman Castle is the quintessential moderate, both in ideology and in temperament, and knows how to work across the aisle.

Another moderate congressman who could win election to the Senate is Rep. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois. He has had problems, to put it mildly, with the accuracy of his résumé, but his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, has faced his share of questions related to the collapse of his family bank. So, perhaps suitably, the two are neck and neck in polls. If Congressman Kirk wins, he could emerge as a moderate voice in the Senate.

If former TV wrestling CEO Linda McMahon of Connecticut manages to topple the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose lead has been shrinking, she could also position herself in the center.

In fact, were Ms. McMahon to win, she would be smart to throw some early votes to the Democrats and position herself in the middle, as Brown did in liberal Massachusetts, analysts say. But given that she has never held elective office, it’s not clear how she would handle her role.

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