By Mike Lillis
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he likes the odds on Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate ruffling GOP feathers in the contest to replace former-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).
"The Delaware primary was interesting — a new candidate, fresh face," McConnell said on ABC's "This Week."
"I think she's got a good chance of winning."
O'Donnell ignited a firestorm within the Republican party after defeating the establishment candidate, Rep. Mike Castle, in the GOP primary earlier this month. The upset energized national Tea Party leaders, but it's also frustrated many GOP loyalists who saw Castle as an easy winner in November. Now, the seat is likely to remain with the Democrats.
Indeed, a Fox News poll released last week shows O'Donnell down by 15 points — 54 to 39 — to her Democratic opponent Chris Coons. The same survey indicates that Castle would have defeated Coons by a similar 15 point margin, 48 to 33.
McConnell on Sunday rattled off 12 states where he thinks Republicans have a shot of replacing Democrats: California, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Dakota, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Connecticut and West Virginia.
The minority leader dismissed the idea that the Tea Party candidates in several of those states — including O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle, who's in a tight contest against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in Nevada — are too extreme to be effective representatives in the Senate.
"They won the primary fair and square against real competition," McConnell said. "What most Americans think is extreme is the kind of government we've been running for the last year-and-a-half.
"I don't think the people of Nevada should be attacked for the choice they made in the primary," McConnell said of Angle. "Obviously, the people of Nevada think that she's a very good candidate or she wouldn't be running even with someone of such power and significance."