Sarah Palin has endorsed Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party-backed challenger to moderate Republican Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware GOP Senate primary.
"Please support Christine O'Donnell in Delaware," Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "She will support efforts for America's energy security, patient-centered health care reform, cutting government waste, and letting the private sector thrive and prosper! We can't afford 'more of the same' in Washington."
In hopes of avoiding the fate of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, who narrowly lost to Tea Party- and Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller in that state's Republican primary, Castle hasagainst O'Donnell. He has been assisted by the Delaware GOP, which has been hammering the challenger seemingly out of fear that she would lose in a general election contest.
The state Republican Party has called O'Donnell's behavior "bizarre and scandalous" and deemed her a liar who "could not be elected dog catcher."
O'Donnell, who ran in the 2006 three-person GOP primary and came in last with 17 percent of the vote, had been seen as a candidate with little hope until the Tea Party Express announced that it would spend $250,000 on her behalf.
"The wave of positive change can really sweep across our land with the election of Constitutional Conservatives who promise to use common sense and rein in the federal government spending!" Palin wrote on Facebook in her endorsement. "...Christine will help usher in the real change we need to get America on the right track."
The Delaware primary, which is closed (meaning only registered Republicans can vote), is Sept. 14. There are 182,796 registered Republicans in Delaware, compared to 292,738 registered Democrats.
In 2006, the last time there was a Senate primary on the GOP side, just 14,386 Republicans participated - fewer than 10 percent of registered Republicans in the state. A similarly low turnout contest, coupled with enthusiasm from the Tea Party and supporters of Palin, would likely benefit O'Donnell.
O'Donnell ran against then-Senator Joe Biden in the Delaware Senate general election in 2008, losing with just 35 percent of the vote. Castle, who has represented Delaware's only congressional district for 18 years, was re-elected to Congress that year with 61 percent of the vote.
The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Chris Coons in the general election.