WASHINGTON // A conservative "Tea Party" favourite knocked off the establishment choice in Delaware's Republican Senate primary election, dealing a blow to the party's chances to recapture the US Senate in November. Upstart Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell scored the biggest in a string of Tea Party upsets this year over nine-term Representative Michael Castle, a popular former governor and one of the last Republican moderates in Congress.
The loss by Mr Castle, who had been expected to cruise to victory in Delaware's November 2 election, gave Democrats new hope in the state and bolstered their chances to retain control of the Senate. A Tea Party favourite was a close second as votes were being counted in New Hampshire's Republican primary and another Tea Party-backed candidate easily won New York's Republican gubernatorial race. National and state Republicans had rushed in recent weeks to help Mr Castle, worried Ms O'Donnell could not win the November race for the Democratic Senate seat long held by the vice president Joe Biden.
"The people of Delaware have spoken. No more politics as usual," Ms O'Donnell told supporters at a victory rally. "The cause is restoring America." Mr Castle is the eighth Senate candidate supported by the national Republican campaign committee to lose a primary this year and the result was perhaps the biggest display yet of anti-Washington anger. The string of victories by Tea Party candidates was fueled by broad voter dissatisfaction with the president Barack Obama and government in Washington, and left Republicans in turmoil.
"Delaware Republicans chose an ultra-rightwing extremist who is out of step with Delaware values," said the democratic senator Robert Menendez, who leads the party's campaign committee. The Republican Senate campaign committee issued a terse one-sentence statement of congratulations on Ms O'Donnell's win. Ms O'Donnell shrugged off the likelihood the committee would not spend any money on her. "They don't have a winning track record this season," she told CNN.