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Will GOP leaders take up 'Christine O'Donnell for Senate'?

In a stinging loss for the GOP, Michael Castle lost to Christine O'Donnell in Senate primary race. Now, state Republicans face a common problem in this primary election season: reconciling with a 'tea party'-backed candidate for the general election.

By Staff writer / September 15, 2010

Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, standing, talks with her father Daniel (r.) in between television interviews Wednesday in Dover, Delaware.

Rob Carr/AP

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Washington

Christine O’Donnell powered to victory over Rep. Mike Castle (R) in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary despite active opposition from the Republican establishment. Will her party unite behind her now that she faces an uphill battle against Democrat Chris Coons in the general election?

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After all, the party establishment was so vociferous in its support of her primary opponent that Ms. O’Donnell accused it of “Republican cannibalism." O'Donnell used such pointed and personal language about Castle that he has called it the worst campaign he ever endured. He won’t be endorsing O’Donnell in the general election, a campaign spokesman said following his loss.

But it’s usually not good for a national party to look like it’s kicking a duly nominated candidate to the curb – even one that complicates GOP dreams of winning back the Senate. On Wednesday top Washington Republicans began publicly to closing ranks behind O’Donnell. National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas issued a statement embracing her – and wrote her an NRSC check for $42,000.

That’s the maximum the party committee can legally give any individual candidate in this election cycle.

“I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support,” said Sen. Cornyn.

This primary season a series of contests between "tea party"-backed figures and Republican establishment choices has left a residue of bitterness in some states. In Florida, the choice of the GOP hierarchy for the gubernatorial nomination, state Attorney General Bill Collum, has refused to endorse the man who beat him, the insurgent (and wealthy) candidate Rick Scott. Similarly, in Arizona, ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a tea party favorite, has yet to endorse the candidate who defeated him in the state’s Senate primary – former presidential candidate John McCain.

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