- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rep. Michael N. Castle, stunned in the Republican Senate primary in Delaware last month by a “tea party”-backed rival, has announced that he will not stay in the race as a write-in candidate.

Mr. Castle declined to endorse primary winner Christine O’Donnell, whose Sept. 16 victory has been one of the biggest upsets of the midterm-election cycle.

Mr. Castle, a moderate, has served nine terms in the House. He had been seen as a heavy favorite to win the former seat of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

While saying he had received “strong encouragement” from supporters to run as an independent, Mr. Castle added in a statement released late Wednesday night, “I do not believe that seeking office in this manner is in the best interest of all Delawareans.”

The decision could prove double-edged for Ms. O’Donnell, who trails in polls against New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, the Democratic nominee. Polls also show that most Castle voters would back Mr. Coons in a two-way race with Ms. O’Donnell.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday — before Mr. Castle’s announcement — showed Mr. Coons leading Ms. O’Donnell by 49 percent to 40 percent.

Mr. Castle decided not to follow in the footsteps of other disappointed GOP candidates, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who are pursuing independent runs for the Senate after losing to tea-party-backed rivals in their party primaries.

The Tea Party Express threw its full support behind Ms. O’Donnell after helping upset Ms. Murkowski. Despite Mr. Castle’s huge funding advantage and the backing of the state and national GOP establishment, he could not fend off a late charge by Ms. O’Donnell.

Mr. Coons sent a notice to potential donors Thursday saying he would need help fending off the same tea-party-backed effort that toppled Mr. Castle’s candidacy.

“All we want to do is talk about the issues facing Delaware,” Mr. Coons said. “All they know how to do is try to tear me down, just as they did Mike Castle.”

Mr. Castle, 71, said he and wife, Jane, are considering what they will do after his House term ends in January.

“It’s time for Jane and me to begin thinking about the next chapter of our lives,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to serve our state as your congressman in the remaining months of my term in a principled manner. Delawareans deserve no less.”

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