Tea Party Primary Wins Could Mean November GOP Losses

Wins for Delaware and New Hampshire Tea Party candidates could reduce hopes for a GOP-majority Senate.

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BY Aliyah Shahid
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

The Tea Party is brewing up some trouble for the GOP.

If Tea Party candidates in Delaware and New Hampshire win against their moderate Republican challengers in Tuesday night's primary elections, it could drastically reduce the GOP's chances of taking control of the Senate.

While the Tea Party candidates might fare well in the primaries, D.C. Republicans fear they'll face a tougher battle in the general election.

Statistician and blogger Nate Silver told The New York Times that Tea Party wins in those two states would halve the chances of a Republican takeover in the Senate. If the Tea-Party backed candidates win, he put the odds of a GOP takeover at 16%. If their challengers win, he put it at 30%.

While most insiders say Republicans have a good chance of winning back the House, the Senate is a tougher climb. And with Tea Party wins in Delaware and New Hampshire, the climb will be even steeper.

In Delaware, moderate, nine-term GOP Rep. Mike Castle is up against Christine O'Donnell, who is backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea-Party, for Joe Biden's old Senate seat.

While Castle was the favored Republican nominee, O'Donnell's campaign has gained momentum. One recent poll has shown the race in a dead heat.

Republicans fear a similar primary loss in Alaska, where Joe Miller rode Tea Party support to beat Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski. There's also Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, the Tea Party-backed candidates who shocked the GOP in Kentucky and Nevada.

The GOP establishment, top strategists and even the Delaware GOP chairman have been openly working to defeat O'Donnell.

Castle contended the election is being manipulated by outsiders.

"This has been a complete out-of state operation," he told Politico. "…It's not been a local campaign. It's not had local donations."

In New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte, the state's attorney general is up against Tea Party-backed Ovide Lamontagne in a multi-candidate race. But unlike in Delaware, Lamontagne does not have Palin's endorsement.

While Ayotte was expected to be the Republican shoo-in to replace retiring Sen. Judd Gregg, Lamontagne has picked up steam. A recent poll puts him just 7 points behind Ayotte—who is favored to win against Democrat Rep. Paul Hodes, who is running unopposed.

Blogger and political reporter for the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza, said a Lamontagne win could mean trouble for Republicans. It "would breathe new life into Democrats in the Granite State and almost certain make the race more competitive on Nov. 2," he said.