On the heels of my feature today about Christine O’Donnell’s Senate campaign, the Tea Party Express endorses the conservative in the Sept. 14 Republican primary against Rep. Mike Castle:
“Christine O’Donnell has established a reputation as a strong voice for conservative constitutionalist principles consistent with the ideals of the tea party movement,” said Amy Kremer, Chairman of the Tea Party Express and one of the founding activists of the modern tea party movement.
In contrast, Mike Castle has proven himself to be one of the most liberal establishment Republicans who has repeatedly turned against conservatives and those in the tea party movement.
“We’re so excited to see the strength behind Christine O’Donnell’s campaign,” said Joe Wierzbicki, Coordinator for the Tea Party Express.
“We long ago announced our intention to hold Mike Castle accountable for his failed record in Congress, and now we have an excellent shot to make sure he is defeated by a solid conservative candidate,” Wierzbicki said. . . .
CNN notes that backing from the Tea Party Express helped Sharron Angle score a come-from-behind win in the Nevada GOP Senate primary. Meanwhile, O’Donnell’s trip to Vegas for the Right Online conference definitely helped boost her name recognition among conservative bloggers, generating coverage by Hot Air and Gateway Pundit, as well as an interview with Tammy Bruce.
Mike Castle’s Republican supporters — including Delaware State GOP Chairman Mike Ross — are dismissing O’Donnell as “unelectable,” citing her 2008 challenge to Joe Biden, who ran simultaneously for Senate re-election while campaigning as Obama’s running mate. The back story on that campaign, however, actually points toward O’Donnell’s potential to upset Castle in the primary. Without significant financial backing from national Republicans, O’Donnell was outspent nearly 50-to-1 by Biden, yet she got more than 140,000 — 35% of the vote in a high-tide year for Democrats. Turnout in this mid-term GOP primary is unlikely to exceed 30,000, so if O’Donnell can mobilize just one out of 10 of her 2008 voters to turn out Sept. 14, that might be enough to beat Castle.
Robert Costa at National Review mentions that Sen. Jim DeMint is keeping an eye on the Delaware primary, considering an endorsement of O’Donnell. Of course, many of O’Donnell’s supporters are also hoping for Sarah Palin’s endorsement, but notice how the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling is spinning last week’s Palin endorsement of Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire as a detriment. Of course, this is outweighed by the hitherto decisive benefit of Palin’s support in a Republican primary. If Ayotte wins the nomination — like Delaware, New Hampshire’s primary is Sept. 14 — that momentum will carry over into the general election, and the “Palin Factor” can’t be isolated and analyzed until the votes are counted on Election Day.
In a mid-term election year like this, it strikes me as foolish for Republicans to base decisions about Republican primaries on the hope of wooing moderates in the general election. It’s exactly that kind of ill-considered “strategic” thinking that led to Newt Gingrich’s embarrassing endorsement of Dede Scozzafava last year, and to John Cornyn’s blunder in prematurely backing Charlie Crist in Florida.