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Mike Castle, write-in candidate?


(AP Photo/The News Journal, Robert Craig)

Updated: 11:45 p.m.

By Felicia Sonmez

Could Rep. Mike Castle (R) pull a Lisa Murkowski?

The veteran Delaware congressman indicated yesterday that he hasn't ruled out running as a write-in candidate in the Delaware Senate race after being upset by marketing consultant Christine O'Donnell (R) in last week's primary.

Castle spokesperson Kate Dickens said Thursday that there's a "fraction of a chance" that Castle will run.

If Castle does decide to run, he may have a somewhat easier path to the ballot than Murkowski, the Alaska senator who lost her own primary last month to little-known attorney Joe Miller (R) but announced late last week that she would pursue a write-in candidacy.

According to Delaware Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove, all that Castle would have to do in order to officially run as a write-in would be to fill out a form and submit it to the state Elections Commission office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Sep. 30.

Write-in candidates' names aren't listed on the ballot, Manlove said, but each polling place is required to post a list of write-in candidates who have declared that they're running. Several other candidates have declared write-in bids in the Senate race this year, but no one as prominent as Castle, Manlove added.

One factor that could aid Castle is the fact that the rules regarding what's accepted as a write-in are relatively loose; as long as the intent is clear, many variations of a candidates name are accepted. That means a voter could write in "Michael Castle," "Castle," or a misspelled variation thereof, and the ballot would be accepted, Manlove said.

Castle's high statewide name ID -- as well as a last name that's simpler than "Murkowski" -- could both make the road as a write-in a little bit easier for him.

But as with any write-in candidacy, there would be many logistical obstacles. As in most states, write-in candidates in Delaware have a bleak history: no write-in has ever won state-wide in Delaware, Manlove said.

In addition, while Castle has some considerable cash left over from his primary campaign, he would have to struggle against the millions of dollars that O'Donnell has taken in online since her win. Castle would also be lacking a party infrastructure that would boost him with fundraising, TV ads and organizational heft. He also would not have a clear shot at winning Democratic votes -- a necessity for viability -- give that New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) is running a credible race.

A CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll released yesterday showed Coons as a favorite in a head to head matchup with O'Donnell; the Democrat took 55 percent to 39 percent for O'Donnell among likely voters. (If Castle were the Republican nominee, he would be leading Coons 55 percent to 37 percent.) The survey did not test a three-way race among Castle, Coons and O'Donnell.

The Delaware Republican Party, meanwhile, isn't speculating on what course it would take if Castle did declare as a write-in. "The party can't comment on speculation," state Republican Party spokesperson Tom Doheny said. "Until anything has actually happened, it's all hearsay right now."

By Felicia Sonmez  | September 23, 2010; 11:16 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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