A little-known conservative activist rode a wave of support from the independent tea party movement to defeat a longtime congressman in Delaware's Republican Senate primary, the latest upset in a season of political upheaval.
In Tuesday's primary, tea party favourite Christine O'Donnell defeated nine-term Rep. Mike Castle, a fixture in Delaware politics for a generation and a political moderate.
Republican Party officials, who had claimed Castle was their only hope of winning the seat formerly held by Vice President Joe Biden for over 30 years in the Democratic-leaning state, suggested they would not give O'Donnell funding against her November opponent, Democrat Chris Coons.
In her victory speech O’Donnell said, "The America we are fighting for is worth restoring."
The success of O'Donnell and some of other candidates backed by the tea party movement may hurt Republicans' chances of gaining the 10 seats they need to win control of the Senate in the November 2 general election.With unemployment high and Democratic President Barack Obama's popularity below 50 per cent, Republicans said hotly contested primaries reflected voter enthusiasm that will serve them well in November.
But Democrats hope the Republicans will be saddled with ultraconservative candidates who may be too extreme for moderate voters. Tea party-backed candidates earlier won Republican Senate nominations in Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky and Alaska.