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Tea Party Coups: O'Donnell for Senate in Delaware, Paladino for New York Governor

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Tea Party conservatives emerged from the final big night of the 2010 primary season with at least two shocking upsets: Their pick in Delaware's Republican Senate primary, Christine O'Donnell, toppled veteran Rep. Michael Castle. And Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, a political newcomer allied with the Tea Party, defeated former congressman Rick Lazio in New York's Republican gubernatorial primary.

The Delaware primary was a fitting climax to a season of noisy contests between candidates anointed by the Republican establishment because they seemed more electable, and those favored by Tea Party activists because they seemed more conservative.

Castle, a nine-term congressman and former Delaware governor, had called his race against O'Donnell a test of whether a moderate could survive in today's rebellious, increasingly conservative GOP. For him and for Lazio, also a moderate, the answer was no. Paladino now faces Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general and son of former governor Mario Cuomo, who has a commanding lead in polls of the race.

More Primary Elections Coverage:

- O'Donnell, Paul and the Primaries
- Ayotte Beats Lamontagne in NH Primary
- NY: Charlie Rangel Wins, Rick Lazio Loses
- Wisconsin: Johnson to Face Feingold
- Rep. Stephen Lynch Survives in Mass.
- O'Donnell Stuns Castle in Delaware
- Robitaille, Caprio, Chafee in RI Gov. Race
- O'Malley to Face Ehrlich in Maryland
- Politics Daily: Full 2010 Elections Coverage

Tea Party gains were not limited to Delaware and New York. The movement picked up a favored Senate nominee in Wisconsin, Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson. His victory formalized his ongoing stiff challenge to Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

Former New Hampshire attorney general Kelly Ayotte managed to fend off a late surge by lawyer and 1996 gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne. The final results Wednesday gave her a victory margin of 1,667 votes.

Lamontagne had momentum from endorsements by Sen. Jim DeMint, a Tea Party ally, as well as the Tea Party group Liberty Central and the influential Union Leader newspaper. Ayotte was backed by the party establishment in Washington, including retiring Sen. Judd Gregg. She also was endorsed by Sarah Palin -- which helped her counter conservative wariness over her service as an appointee of governors from both parties and her statement that she would have voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Ayotte now faces Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes in the general election.

In other key races, Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York easily won renomination in his Harlem district despite a looming House trial on ethics violations. And in Washington, D.C., city council Chairman Vincent Gray defeated Mayor Adrian Fenty in a Democratic primary that was seen as a referendum on the abrasive styles of both Fenty and his hand-picked schools chief, Michelle Rhee. The results in both Democratic cities were tantamount to general election victories for Rangel and Gray.

Delaware's O'Donnell, a conservative activist nearly three decades younger than Castle, spent much of the campaign defending herself from criticism of her character and personal finances. The Delaware GOP and party leaders such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie mobilized to help Castle, calling O'Donnell unelectable and worse. But she prevailed with backing from Tea Party groups and prominent figures such as Palin, Michelle Malkin and DeMint.

The O'Donnell victory immediately shifted the seat, once held by Vice President Joe Biden, from likely GOP to likely Democratic and reduced the odds of Republicans winning a majority in the Senate. The shell-shocked National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a one-line statement congratulating O'Donnell. Democrats lauded their nominee, New Castle County executive Chris Coons, as an energetic reformer focused on jobs. On Twitter, pundits all but declared Coons the blue-leaning state's next senator.

"A lot of people have already said that we can't win the general election," O'Donnell said in a victory speech. "Yes, we can. Yes, we will." On Wednesday, NRSC chairman John Cornyn of Texas announced he was giving O'Donnell $42,000. He said he and the committee "strongly stand by all of our nominees," including O'Donnell.

O'Donnell and Johnson brought to eight the number of Tea Party allies who have won Senate nominations. The others are Mike Lee of Utah, Joe Miller of Alaska, Ken Buck of Colorado, Marco Rubio of Florida, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Castle, first elected statewide in Delaware 30 years ago, had broken from his party to support Obama administration priorities such as a climate-change bill and the new financial reform law, and has been working with Democrats on revisions to the No Child Left Behind education law. Many Republicans looked at the bottom line -- polls suggesting O'Donnell is unelectable -- and stood by Castle.

But his moderate record was enough to send more voters into O'Donnell's camp, despite warnings from Charles Krauthammer and other conservatives that she is a fatally flawed candidate. Issues that arose during the primary campaign included her false claims (that she had a college degree, that she defeated Biden in two of the state's three counties in 2008); irregular finances (including a near-foreclosure, an IRS tax lien and a total reported 2009 income of $5,800); unusual public statements (she's against masturbation and she believes political rivals are stalking her); and a multimillion-dollar sex discrimination lawsuit against a former employer.

"I'm an average hard-working American. I'm not a multimillionaire like my opponent. Of course in this economy I've fallen on hard times," O'Donnell said Tuesday morning on CBS' "The Early Show." She said she had straightened out her finances and "I came through to the other side in a very strong position."

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Delaware voters, please rise up off your brains and think long and hard about who you vote into office. If you do not like the way the Obama agenda has been forced on the people, then you must not vote for the professed Marxist in the Lib/Prog/Dem Party. Some are saying that O'Donnell is not qualified, but think about it. Has she not struggled the way the majority of Americans have struggled through the first 20 months of the Obama administration? Do you really think you can do better voting for an Obama yes-man? Change the faces in our State and Federal Legislatures until such time as these "public servants" get the message and begin, once again, working for the citizens, not for their own wealth and power.

September 21 2010 at 10:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

O'Donnell voted for TARP and stimulus and wants cap and trade. She ran on no to the stimulus and TARP. Her Democratic opponent is an avowed Marxist, his claim. We've seen Biden's actions when he had the job, could she be any worse considering who were the opponents??

September 17 2010 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Tea Party folks are against all gov. programs until they or someone in their family needs a handup. A loan for college, aid to ailing parent, loan to a business they ran into the ground or a simple pothole in front of their house, watch them scream for their share. All of these are paid for by taxes. O'Donnell only made 7 thou last year, well below the poverty line so there must be a sugar daddy out there somewhere. She also appears to have tax issues, this is not a spring board to the future, its a Bridge to Nowhere.

September 17 2010 at 7:56 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to capev1's comment

Please tell me which Tea Party people you are referencing.... Are you simply making a idiological statement based upon "your thoughts" or do you have some facts to back your statement up ? I would rather have an inexperienced honest politician who will gain experience than a dishonest politicians with many years of experience.

September 21 2010 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The constant claims that Tea Party candidates want to do away with Social Security is not accurate. Dick Armey said that he supports giving the people a choice between Social Security and something similar to a 401K retirement plan. People who prefer SS can still have it. My wife had 66% of her SS benefit taken away because she also has a county retirement pension. The money you put into SS is not really yours and you have no control over how, when, and to who it is distributed.

September 16 2010 at 11:54 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

I found it interesting the comments of the republican senaters stating that the tea party candidates are running as republicans and if they go to washington they will be republicans.Sounds to me like around about way of saying look you got your support and money from us now buck up.Tea party peaple will fast see their candidates vote and spend like the remaining Bush rinos tell them too

September 16 2010 at 11:44 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Go TEA Party! As a Conservative (Republican for 40 years) from Pennsylvania who had to listen to Senator Specter (I never voted for him) for years, it's about time the Conservatives have banded together. I will not support RINO's anymore, so if we don't win with Conservatives, so be it. It is better than the carp the RINO's do. LIBERALS now call themselves PROGRESSIVES, why are they ashamed of the liberal beliefs? I'm not ashamed to be a Conservative, so be proud to be a Liberal. If the Republicans don't get their act together, and support the Constitution, they will go the way of the Whigs, Populist, Federalist, Prohibition, American, and many other parties. At least the Republicans have decided to throw the bums out. Many of us are willing to admit that Republicans have screwed up. Can the Democratics say the same? They just voted Charlie Rangel in, and they continue to support very extreme leftists. It is rare that the Democratics purge their side when they've been unethical; instead they re-label the charges, or claim it is a conspiracy or make excuses. Given the state of this country, throw them all out!!!! I'm willing to purge the Republican Party, can the Democratics say the same?

September 16 2010 at 10:10 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

If Christine O'Donnell can be a Senator, then a Levi Johnston/JoeThePlumber Ticket can win the WHitehouse.

September 16 2010 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dccwest's comment

That's the new Congress and Senate--WE THE PEOPLE

September 16 2010 at 10:05 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe that wouldn't be so bad. It can't be worse than what we've had since 2000 (including Obama). Although I'd prefer JoeThePlumber at the top of the ticket.

September 16 2010 at 10:30 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

PeeWee Herman could get the republican nomination if Palin Backed him. Hannity would sell it. As amatter of fact, PeeWee is more qualified than O'Donnell. So is Levi Johnston.

September 16 2010 at 9:33 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

No. We DEFINITELY don't need Tea Party Candidates. The fact is that they are extremist Republicans and that is not even debatable. Before you vote republican, you must admit that the GOP has been taken over by the extremists. If you don't admit that, then you are uninformed. Your Heroes Hannity and Limbaugh BRAG about the fact that the Tea Party Candidates are 100% Hard Core Right Wing. You can't have it both ways.

September 16 2010 at 9:28 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dccwest's comment

So supporting the Constitution is Extremist Hard Core Right Wing? Hey I have an idea, let's take all the border gates down, and do away with any immigration policy. Tell the Doctors and Nurses that they are obligated to provide health care for free. The farmers must feed us for nothing. Heck, let's just make every body a government employee, and do away with all business (big and small). Oh, wait, where has that succeeded? Was that called Communism? That is the direction Liberal/Progessives are taking us towards. You can't make me buy health insurance, it's unconstitutional!

September 16 2010 at 10:39 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

I the Tea Party in denial about the fact that Bush created 6 Trillion in Debt or do they just believe Hannity who says Obama did it? Are they also in denial about the fact that the financial system almost collapsed B-4 the election in 2008? And do they really believe that the best way out of the Republican Recession would be for Obama to do NOTHING?

September 16 2010 at 9:22 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dccwest's comment

the Tea party is openly punishing republicans for their spending durring bushes years. you also act like bush spending 6 trillion absolves Obama from spending by obamas own projections 9 trillion or more even geitner has said interest on the debt wil exeed income in 2020. do u have any clue what that means? 1. print money. 2 TAX more. with industry in china---u wont have any good paying jobs so those who work have to be taxed to death to suport those who cant get a job as more industry m,oves out their will be just more and more3 tea party growthy. u cant pay state police trooper in NY 120k a year to retire at 39!

September 20 2010 at 8:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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