By Alexandra Jaffe - 07/23/13 11:52 PM EDT
Christine O’Donnell (R), the Tea Party candidate who memorably said she was “not a witch” in a 2010 Senate campaign ad, is thinking about a 2014 rematch in Delaware. [WATCH VIDEO]
O’Donnell told The Hill on Tuesday she is “not saying no” to challenging Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who defeated her by 16 points in their last campaign.
“If enough people are asking me, and my parents are healthy, and this investigation has exposed a lot of the corruption … I’ll look at it,” she said.
But O’Donnell muddied the waters further later Tuesday, tweeting that “a 2014 Senate run isn’t even on my radar!”
O’Donnell’s political plans became the subject of intense speculation in Delaware following a Wilmington News Journal article Monday saying she was weighing another campaign.
O’Donnell told The Hill she’d have a decision made by spring 2014.
Her mother is coming off a year of chemotherapy treatments, and her father had two heart surgeries this past year.
O’Donnell said she didn’t want to put them through the stress of a campaign right now.
But her late timeline could rankle some Delaware Republicans, who believe O’Donnell’s indecision could be preventing other Republicans from entering the race.
Delaware Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle (R) urged a quick decision.
“The decision to run is a big one, particularly for a United States Senate seat. There’s a lot of variables involved. But to run a serious race, or give somebody else the ability to run a serious race, you don’t [decide] in May of 2014. You do that now,” he said, according to the News Journal.
Few other Republicans have been floated as potential challengers for the race, aside from Tom Kovach, a Delaware lawyer and county council president who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012.
O’Donnell said she’s not preventing anyone from running.
“If anything, what my campaign in 2010 accomplished was encouraging people to get involved, and I would encourage anybody who’s considering running in 2014 to run,” she said.
Delaware Republicans privately say it’s not the Senate race she’s freezing.
It’s in tight legislative districts, where competitive Republican candidates are wary of running with her at the top of the ticket, for fear she would hurt their chances.
Boosted by the Tea Party, O’Donnell won the 2010 GOP Senate primary over former Rep. Mike Castle, who was seen as the stronger general election candidate.
Many believe O’Donnell’s win in the primary helped prevent Republicans from winning back the Senate in 2010, when the GOP won the House majority.
Revelations surrounding her youthful experimentation in witchcraft — as well as an infamous ad in which she declared, “I am not a witch” — sank her candidacy. Coons won with 57 percent of the vote.
But O’Donnell may benefit from an investigation into whether her taxes were inappropriately accessed by government officials during her 2010 campaign.
The office of the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration is reportedly planning to interview O’Donnell regarding the potential breach.
She sent an article concerning the investigation to her email list, in a message that included a way for supporters to donate to her PAC. That sparked initial speculation about another Senate bid.
O’Donnell has urged Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to add her case to other IRS cases he’s asked the Justice Department to review, and she recently appeared on “Fox and Friends” to rail against the tax agency.
O’Donnell insisted, however, she doesn’t want the investigation to be overshadowed by her potential run, and any money raised for her PAC will go toward paying her legal expenses.