A few weeks ago I was on the phone with Stu Rothenberg, editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, which tracks congressional races, who was remarking to me that of the five open seats Dems must defend next November – Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Colorado and Delaware – few looked truly in danger. Indeed, Republicans will have a much tougher time defending Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, New Mexico and Missouri. Out of the Dem seats, Michael Bennet would face the toughest election, unless, Rothenberg said, “Mike Castle gets into the Delaware race. That would make that race an automatic toss up.”
Today at noon, Democratic fears came true. Instead of running for a 10th term in Congress, Castle threw his hat in the ring for Joe Biden’s old seat in the Senate. His potential opponent has a familiar last name: Biden. Beau Biden, the First State’s attorney general who recently returned from a stint in the National Guard in Iraq, is mulling a run as well.
There had been some rumors that Castle might not run if Beau decided to compete, despite polls showing the popular former two-term governor clearly has the advantage. Castle, who has never lost a election since his first race for the Delaware legislature in 1966, also benefits from the fact that’s he’s representative-at-large meaning he runs statewide to represent to entire tiny state in Congress. There had also been talk that Castle, 70, might retire from public life altogether. But, in a coup for GOP recruitment, the moderate Republican today announced his candidacy for the Senate. Ted Kaufman, a former Biden staffer who was picked to serve out Joe Biden’s term, has said he will not run again. Rothenberg, as predicted, immediately moved the race into “lean upset” and predicted that Delaware will be one of the closest races to watch next November.