GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Palin to GOP leaders: Get over it

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who provided a last minute boost to conservative commentator Christine O'Donnell in Delaware's race for Senate with her endorsement, said Wednesday that GOP leaders unhappy with O'Donnell should "buck up."

"How about those upsets in the primaries yesterday?" Palin said Wednesday, according to the Tulsa World newspaper. 

Palin, speaking in Tulsa at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Liberty Gala, aimed her comments at Republicans like Karl Rove, who has called O'Donnell unelectable in wake of her primary win against Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.). 

"We have to be able to utilize these new people and new ideas and new energy," she said. 

Palin recorded a robocall for O'Donnell and her endorsement less than a week before the primary provided a major last-minute boost of attention for Delaware's GOP primary. 

Initial reports late Tuesday night suggested that the National Republican Senatorial Committee would not offer backing to O'Donnell in the general election after she defeated Castle, one of the committee's top recruits. 

But on Wednesday, NRSC Chair John Cornyn (Texas) said the committee was fully behind the nominee and touted the $42,000 the NRSC is sending O'Donnell.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said Wednesday that he plans on donating to O'Donnell's campaign through his political action committee. 


Ex-Rep. Lazio fights back conservative challenge in governor's race

NEW YORK — The most surprising Tea-Party-fueled upset Tuesday might not come in either Delaware or New Hampshire. It could come in New York's Republican gubernatorial primary, where former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) is facing a strong challenge from businessman Carl Paladino. 

Paladino is self-funding his campaign, which has taken some strange turns even by New York standards. 

He has won backers among Tea Party groups in the state over the course of his campaign, though no noteworthy third-party conservative groups have lined up behind him.    

The thrust of Paladino's message appears to be that he's angry and he thinks voters should be too. At a Tea Party rally in Albany over the weekend, Paladino was quoted by The New York Times as telling voters, "I'm taking a baseball bat to Albany with me." 

After pledging to spend upwards of $10 million of his own money on the race, polls ahead of Tuesday have Paladino in a dead heat with Lazio, and several of the state's political observers think Paladino may actually pull the upset Tuesday. 

Lazio, who was the party's nominee for Senate against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton back in 2000, finally started paying attention to Paladino ahead of the primary, making the case that he wasn't fit for high office. 

That message was helped by the fact that Paladino's bid has been dominated by late news of a series of e-mails he forwarded to friends and other associates that contained racist jokes and pornography. 

A large part of the focus for Paladino has been on upstate New York. Paldino voted in Buffalo Tuesday morning, while Lazio made the rounds on Long Island. 

If Paladino does find a way to win Tuesday, it would be just as surprising as a Christine O'Donnell upset in Delaware, though not as consequential.   

When it comes to the general election, it's not expected to be much of a race in the fall. State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) will be the heavy favorite over whichever Republican emerges from Tuesday's primary. 


Palin records robocall for Ayotte in New Hampshire

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has recorded a last-minute robocall for Kelly Ayotte's Senate campaign in New Hampshire. 

"Kelly is one tough 'Granite Grizzly' who has broken barriers, fought off and locked up criminals, and stood up for New Hampshire families," Palin said in the automated message that will go out to GOP voters ahead of Tuesday's primary. 

Palin calls Ayotte "the true conservative running for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire," in the call. "She will cut spending, eliminate earmarks, protect your 2nd Amendment rights and bring some much-needed Granite State common sense to the Senate."

Unlike in Delaware's Republican Senate primary, where Palin is backing conservative commentator Christine O'Donnell, her pick in New Hampshire is staring down a surging conservative challenger. 

Palin endorsed Ayotte in a post on her Facebook page in July, but Ovide Lamontagne appears to have gained ahead of the primary. 

Self-funding businessman Bill Binnie and Jim Bender are also vying for the Republican nod for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). 

Lamontagne has been massively outspent by Ayotte and Binnie, but he won the endorsement of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) late Friday and is claiming last-minute momentum.  

Along with backing from Palin, Ayotte has touted her endorsements from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). 


Delaware Senate contest will hinge on turnout

WILMINGTON, Del. -- For supporters of Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), all eyes will be on Delaware's New Castle County Tuesday where the level of turnout in the state's contested GOP Senate primary could make or break the longtime congressman.

New Castle County houses the urban population centers of Delaware. It contains Newark and Wilmington, the state's largest city. 

The Castle campaign is hoping for solid turnout Tuesday in and around Wilmington to help the centrist congressman offset more conservative primary-goers in the southern part of the state who may be backing Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell. 

O'Donnell is banking on support from an energized conservative base to help her to an upset Tuesday. 

The best estimates of observers in the state put turnout in Tuesday's closed Republican primary around 40,000 voters. For Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell, the lower the turnout, the better on Tuesday. 

At least 70 Castle volunteers were campaigning door-to-door Sunday, many aimed at drumming up turnout among Castle-friendly Republicans in the northern part of the state.    

Near Wilmington, it's not tough to see that the area is Castle's base. Castle for Senate billboards and signs are numerous in Wilmington and just outside of the downtown area, while O'Donnell signs are hard to come by.

At least one small O'Donnell for Senate sign was spotted alongside Route 202, close to downtown Wilmington. It stood in the shadow of a much larger Castle sign and a bright red campaign sign for Glen Urquhart, the conservative challenger running in the primary for Delaware's at-large House seat. 

O'Donnell is banking on turnout from the state's two counties just to the South of New Castle--Kent and Sussex counties.

The Tea Party Express has a phone bank set up in-state to make GOTV calls on O'Donnell's behalf and the group is coordinating an effort with supporters from out of state to phone Delaware voters ahead of Tuesday.


NRA backs Tea Party candidate in Delaware

The National Rifle Association endorsed conservative commentator Christine O'Donnell Friday in Delaware's Republican Senate primary. The Tea Party-backed O'Donnell is looking to upset Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) on Tuesday.

The NRA's Political Victory Fund cited O'Donnell's "commitment to preserving the Second Amendment" in its endorsement of her Friday.

“Christine O’Donnell will be a strong voice in fighting ongoing efforts by anti-gun politicians to dismantle the Second Amendment,” chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund Chris Cox said in a statement. “We ask all Delaware gun-owners and hunters to vote for Christine O’Donnell in the U.S. Senate Republican primary on September 14th.”

The NRA's endorsement made no mention of Castle, but the longtime congressman earns an "F" from the gun lobby for his voting record. 

The NRA backing comes as Castle and O'Donnell are in a battle of last-minute "conservative" endorsements, which is at least one metric where O'Donnell seems to have come out on top over the past two days. 

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin officially backed O'Donnell Thursday, while Castle's campaign touted in-state endorsements from former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont (R) and former Judge Bill Lee, who ran for governor in 2008. 


O'Donnell says Palin backing proves she can win primary

Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell said Thursday a late endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) proves that her campaign has the momentum it needs to upset Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in the state's GOP Senate primary Tuesday. 

"Something really special is going on here in Delaware," O'Donnell told The Hill late Thursday. "This just increases the excitement around our campaign right now and that momentum will carry us through."

O'Donnell said she was at a local restaurant talking to voters when she received a text message alerting her of Palin's endorsement. The former Alaska governor announced her backing of O'Donnell on conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity's radio show Thursday. 

"She stood up against the establishment just like I have in Delaware and she blazed a trail for insurgent candidates," O'Donnell said. 

Palin later posted the endorsement of O'Donnell on her Facebook page. "Please support Christine O’Donnell in Delaware," Palin wrote. "She will support efforts for America’s energy security, patient-centered health care reform, cutting government waste, and letting the private sector thrive and prosper!"

The O'Donnell campaign did not know the endorsement was coming. 

The candidate said Palin's backing comes amid "growing frustration with the tactics" of the Castle campaign and the Delaware Republican Party.

The state GOP filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission Thursday alleging illegal coordination between the Tea Party Express and the O'Donnell campaign. O'Donnell declined to comment on the complaint. 

Castle's campaign dismissed Palin's backing and touted his own endorsements Thursday. 

"Tuesday's primary will be decided by grassroots Republican voters here in Delaware, not out-of-state interest groups who are working to control the outcome," Castle spokeswoman Kate Dickens said in a statement. "Mike Castle has overwhelming support from respected conservative Delawareans, including former Gov. Pete duPont and Judge Bill Lee, who know that Castle is the true fiscal conservative and the only candidate who can win this seat for Republicans in November."