Delaware Primary Serves as Tea Party Barometer

With voters going to the polls next week in Delaware, there are two Republican primaries conservatives should watch.

In the race for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat held by Vice President Joe Biden until last year, all signs point to moderate-to-liberal Rep. Mike Castle (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 56%) winning rather easily and going on to defeat Democrat Chris Coons.

Although conservative insurgent Christine O’Donnell was no doubt hurt by questions about her personal finances in the last week, how many votes the underfunded contender gets will be an interesting barometer of strength for the Tea Party movement in a state that has historically nominated moderate contenders such as Castle.

Along with taking the pro-abortion line, Castle has voted for increased government spending and most recently for the Obama-backed Disclose Act to severely gut the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign finance.
For all of the conservative distaste of Castle’s record in Congress, even opponents concede he was a popular two-term governor. Castle also has strong pre-primary backing from the statewide GOP organization led by Chairman Tom Ross, who has been widely quoted in the press criticizing O’Donnell.

An O’Donnell showing of 35% or more will say, in effect, that a candidate minus the baggage she had might well have given Castle a real scare. The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Castle defeating Coons by a margin of 49% to 37%.

In the race for the First State’s at-large U.S. House seat that Castle is abandoning, all signs point to security systems heiress Michele Rollins defeating conservative Glen Urquhart. A Castle-style Republican, Rollins had the backing of the state GOP convention and many national Republican operatives. Urquhart, who served in the Reagan Administration, got high marks as a campaigner but could not raise the funds to compete with his well-heeled foe. The Republican nominee will be a strong favorite in the fall over likely Democratic candidate and former Lt. Gov. John Carney.