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Mike Castle to vie for Biden's Senate seat, maybe against Beau

GOP's Mike Castle of Delaware, nine-term congressman, puts Republicans in strong position to pick up a Senate seat in 2010, whether or not Beau Biden (D) enters the race.

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Though Delaware is a sold blue state, party affiliation is only one of many factors voters will consider – especially given Castle’s moderate positions (such as support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research). Democrats, who control the White House and both houses of Congress, have been under gun, boosting GOP prospects for 2010.

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Then there’s the Mike factor.

“Many voters don't seem to care about Mike Castle's positions on the issues,” says Allan Loudell, a talk radio host at WDEL-AM in Wilmington. “They just like the guy.”

The two Senate party committees reacted quickly to Castle’s announcement.

The Democrats came out first, a half hour before Castle’s expected announcement, and attempted to lash Castle to the legacy of President Bush.

“After four decades in politics, it is clear which direction Mike Castle wants to move Delaware and the country,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement. “He built-up a record of supporting the George Bush’s economic policies, including tax cuts for the super-wealthy, that drove Delaware's economy into a ditch – and now won’t support any of the Obama-Biden plans to fix it. This will be a race about who is positioned to lead Delaware into the future, and Democrats fully intend to hold onto the Vice-President's seat.”

The Republicans followed with their opening salvo as Castle was speaking:

“Mike Castle’s announcement today instantly transforms Delaware into one of the most competitive Senate races in the country in 2010,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a statement. “As an independent and experienced statesman who has earned the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike, Congressman Castle has a proven record of representing the people of Delaware in a bipartisan fashion, and we are thrilled that he has decided to take this next step toward extending his career of public service in the United States Senate.”

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