September 3rd, 2010
07:32 PM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party candidate sparks backlash in Delaware

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Tea Party Express launched new ads supporting Delaware Republican primary Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell."]
Washington (CNN) - Fresh on the heels of Joe Miller's surprising win over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican Senate primary, the Tea Party movement is setting its sights on Delaware.

Now the Delaware Republican Party is taking heed – and taking on – the Tea Party-backed candidate in the state's Republican Senate primary, sparking a war of words between the state's establishment GOP and the Tea Party movement.

It's a race that pits conservative Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell against moderate Rep. Mike Castle, Delaware's former two-term governor and lone Congressman since 1993.

Both candidates' campaigns have become increasingly caustic, especially as Tea Party-backed candidates across the country have picked up win after win against GOP establishment candidates.

The Tea Party Express endorsed the conservative O'Donnell in July, and recently committed to spending at least six-figures in the state.

"We are launching an aggressive multimedia and multi-platform campaign to help propel Christine O'Donnell to victory, and we've only just begun," Amy Kremer, Chairman of the Tea Party Express, said in a statement.

The group originally planned to spend about $250,000 on the race, but is now considering expanding their presence with TV and radio ad buys in Philadelphia, said Tea Party Express political director Joe Wierzbicki.

A similar last minute media blitz by the Tea Party Express is credited with propelling Miller – a formerly little known candidate – to victory over Murkowski, the Republican Party-backed incumbent.

The group launched a series of TV and radio ads Thursday that support O'Donnell, and rail against Castle as a liberal candidate who "just keeps supporting the failed policies of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."

It's a move that has the Castle campaign fighting back.

"Out-of-state interest groups have threatened to spend half a million dollars to fund the disgusting tactics being used by the O'Donnell campaign to make accusations," said Castle campaign manager Mike Quaranta.

Meanwhile, the Castle campaign has launched, a site devoted to aggregating negative news about O'Donnell.

Tom Ross, state committee chairman of the Delaware Republican Party, defended the negative nature of the site. "The stories might not be flattering, but they are factual. ...Sometimes it is necessary to make sure that the facts get out there," Ross said.

O'Donnell has faced criticism over her personal finance issues and leftover debt from previous, unsuccessful bids for a Delaware Senate seat. She has also been accused of misstating the results of her run against Joe Biden.

When asked to clarify her remarks in an interview Thursday with radio host Dan Gaffney of WGMD, O'Donnell seemed to grow increasingly frustrated, and ultimately blamed her statements on a grueling campaign schedule.

Ross, who is backing Castle, said that O'Donnell's history is troubling.

"This is a group and candidate that clearly seem to have a problem with facts. It is shocking that they would come in and support a candidate of Christine O'Donnell's ilk," he said.

"It is sad that the group didn't investigate the candidate that they're supportingā€¦ and surprising they would take their supporters' money that they donated and squander it in such a fashion," Ross said.

Ross also questioned whether O'Donnell is capable of pulling off an upset similar to Miller's win in Alaska.

"In Alaska, it was that Joe Miller is an Ivy League grad, a war hero, excellent standing in the community," Ross said. "Look at Christine O'Donnell. She has none of those attributes. She is career politician. She's run unsuccessfully for Senate three times."

Yet, Wierzbicki criticized Ross for dismissing O'Donnell, calling her a true conservative.

"[Ross] is everything that is wrong with the establishment of the Republican Party. He should be fired for serving to undermine a Republican candidate who stands on conservative principles. It's his job to advance all Republicans in the state of Delaware. Instead he has become a tool for those who wish to thwart the Republican Party platform and turn the GOP into a Democrat-lite outfit. We find him reprehensible and shameless," Wierzbicki said.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie of neighboring New Jersey endorsed Castle Thursday.

The winner will face Democrat Chris Coons in the race for Vice President Joe Biden's former seat.

Filed under: 2010 • Delaware • Mike Castle • Tea Party Express
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Love watching the Reps eat their own. O'Donnell claims to have graduated from FDU – which she did, about a week ago. The woman is a liar and a loon so no wonder Sarah likes her.

    September 3, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. barry

    I hope she pulls it off. We have swung too far left in the last 3 years. Majority of American's are center to center right. The Obama recession is bringing the country down and we need change to fix it. It is sad to see how far we have fallen in just two short years.

    September 3, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  3. Ed Fl

    Where and what is Delaware

    September 3, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. sara

    Just Imagine all of the "clowns" running our government. They will last one term and the TAX payers will pay for the rest of their lives. Just Imagine. Rock the Vote Dems!!!!

    September 3, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. FatSean

    Tea Party = Ralph Nader.

    September 3, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Sara

    I cannot stand the tea party and strongly dislike people like Beck and Palin. All they do is spread hate and lies against those who are not like themselves. I hope the tea party and Beck become irrelevant soon.

    September 3, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. Dennis

    It's okay, let the wing-nuts win in the primary. In the general election, the public will vote for the most sane of the candidates, not the Timothy McVeigh's.

    September 3, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. carlos

    talipublicans eating each other.....a comedy show, vote for any of them and:

    LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE, PRAY and DANCE because your tomorrow is not guaranteed

    September 3, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. Do You Know that Glenn Beck Wore . . .

    A bulletproof vest to the rally? Just like MLK did . . .

    September 3, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. Robert Moses

    The good patriotic people of Deleware's republicon party should rise up and vote for her. If the establishment RINOs think she is dangerous she is just what we need.

    September 3, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. jonny

    Ah, what joy watching the right wing wak jobz dooking it out. . . . .

    September 3, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. Hugo

    Anyone else notice how this CNN site sure suddenly seems to be morphing back into a political propaganda sheet for the Obamacrat's? What's wrong, GOP got you scared your gonna get your clocks cleaned to save our Nation from this fraud of a Congress and Administration of liberal Nazis?

    September 3, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. Al

    When the conservatives don't have an answer to a question, they call it a "gotcha" ambush. And when they do have an answer, it's always "No."

    September 3, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. Keith in Austin

    The person expounding the principles of Conservatism will win! Just like Alaska. Enough said!

    September 3, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. southern cousin

    Don't really care who wins as long as it is not Biden's successor. Whichever wins will send another message to these tone deaf, corrupt slime in the Obozo administration and the drug addled liberals.

    September 3, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  16. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    I could watch Republicans eating their own all day!

    You go Teabagistan Nation!

    Yes you can!

    September 3, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  17. Clwyd

    The scum of the republican party has risen to the top! It is called the tea party.

    September 3, 2010 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  18. Oy Vey Az

    I am so thankful that the Tea Party crowd are winning here and there.

    It's time we had a change !

    For years TV broadcasters have only used red for Republicans, and blue for the Democrats ... it has been red and blue and blue an red and yawn.

    But think of it. The national news broadcasters will have to adopt a third color to splash on their maps for the Tea Party crowd.

    Lets see ... what would be most appropriate? How about baby-blow-yellow ... or maybe just Brown. .

    September 3, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. Jeff

    Sarah Palin is a danger to this country.
    When are people going to wake up and figure this out?

    September 3, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. Jeff S

    I didn't get to comment on the Beck article, so I'll try here: I can't stand Glenn Beck, but to call that a "lie" and make a big deal out of it is to diminish his many distortions of the truth. He did hold it, he just didn't touch it. How stupid, and damaging to the cause of every true American who despises the anti-freedom Glenn Beck.

    September 3, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  21. Charlie in Maine

    Dear GOP,

    You have sowed the wind and now you are reaping the whirlwind. You planted the seeds to this tea party stupidity when you un-leashed Sarah Palin to whip up the crowds into a hate-filled frenzy with all her crap about "socialism". It wasn't enough to just be against Obama's policies you want to destory him well your monster will destroy you all first and then set it's sights on the country.

    You have created this monster and it is coming after you. You deserve it, but the country does not.

    Attention America- vote while you still can!

    September 3, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  22. Kim Sue

    Has the tea party backed any non-wasp (white) candidates? And when did America lose it's "Honor" as Glen Beck and Sarah Palin suggests? I am neither Rep nor Dem I vote for the person. Would someone please answer my question and I would prefer that a person in the Tea Party answer since they are more in tune with the ins and outs of the party.

    September 3, 2010 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  23. Maria

    The Tea Party movement SUCKS!!!!!!

    September 3, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  24. malabar

    Delaware is crap and does not matter, i mean Biden is frm there, so its a joke of a town. . er, state haha, but Christie rocks so, whatever he says. CHRIS CHRISTIE wud b a good east king to Queen Palin of the west. big tent. watch then dance around eachother leading up to the midterms. the fat man and the ice queen. my gay spic ass can dig it šŸ˜‰

    September 3, 2010 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  25. Mesa Mick

    Here's the reality check...Teatards elect other Teatards in the GOP primaries. By the time these Teatard nominees get deep into the general election campaign they are spotted for the bats%#! crazies they are.

    I might be making a stretch here but I think a majority of voters – but not a very big one sad to say – will not vote for them. Provided of course that the MSM reports their craziness in at least a neutral way...

    September 3, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
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