Christine O’Donnell pulled off a stunning upset victory Tuesday in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary, defeating GOP Rep. Mike Castle and dealing Republicans a major blow in their quest to recapture the Senate majority this year.
With 86 percent of precincts reported, the Associated Press called the race with O’Donnell leading Castle, 54-46 percent.
Castle becomes the seventh Republican candidate supported by the GOP establishment to lose in a primary - following favored Republicans being upset in Nevada, Kentucky, Florida, Alaska, Colorado and Utah. The National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a terse, one-sentence reaction to O’Donnell’s victory from NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer, not from its chairman, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
“We congratulate Christine O’Donnell for her nomination this evening after a hard-fought primary campaign in Delaware,” Jesmer said in a statement.
O’Donnell, who enjoyed the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and the Tea Party Express, will face New Castle County Executive Chris Coons in the general election.
O’Donnell will go into that race as an underdog in the race against Coons, giving Democrats a strong chance at holding Vice President Joe Biden’s former Senate seat.