Big GOP Names Sit on the Sidelines in Delaware

Big GOP Names Sit on the Sidelines in Delaware

By Erin McPike - September 13, 2010

Several big names in the GOP have thrown their weight around in the Delaware Senate race in the last week, but a handful of current influential leaders in the party have decided to sit it out.

Potential Republican presidential contenders Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney have not waded into the primary between Rep. Mike Castle and the Tea Party-inspired Christine O'Donnell. O'Donnell secured the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint last week, while Castle picked up support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

According to Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant, "We've stayed out of it, consistent with our general policy of not getting involved in nomination contests where the process is open and transparent." Castle does not appear on Romney's long list of endorsed candidates, either, but the former Massachusetts governor has gotten involved in a small handful of contested primaries such as the Iowa and South Carolina gubernatorial races and the Utah Senate race. Huckabee has also inserted himself into primaries, but the Huck PAC Web site does not mention any supported candidates in the First State.

The Delaware Republican Party announced its support for Castle early in the race and today issued a release boasting, "Conservatives Flood the Airways with Castle Endorsements." Castle campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Fitzpatrick also emphasized the support Castle has received from former Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough, former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont, the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal.

Missing from the list are the party's hopefuls to take on President Obama in 2012. But Republican Party officials pushing Castle also note that conservative groups like FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth have not backed O'Donnell the way they have successfully supported more conservative insurgent candidates in other Senate races this year. The missing links underscore the nervousness Republican Party regulars have about this race and how high the stakes are. Still, O'Donnell has a few high-profile groups in her arsenal such as the National Rifle Association and the Citizens United PAC.

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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