From THE HILL:
Republican leaders were scrambling Wednesday to unify their party in the wake of a nasty GOP primary in Delaware that knocked Rep. Mike Castle (Del.), their top recruit, out of the race.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Hill Wednesday that he will contribute campaign funds to Christine O’Donnell, who in narrowly defeating Castle may have given Democrats an advantage in the general election.
McConnell downplayed the notion that contentious GOP primaries have exposed disunity within his party.
Then he grimaced and puked in his Turtle Chow.
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O’Donnell’s victory came despite opposition from the state and national Republican leadership. Polls suggested Castle would defeat Democrat Chris Coons in November, but that O’Donnell would lose in the general election. The Cook Political Report on Wednesday shifted the seat from likely Republican to likely Democrat.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas), who did not offer a statement Tuesday night reacting to O’Donnell’s surprise win, on Wednesday pledged financial support for O’Donnell.
Cornyn announced the campaign committee would send O’Donnell a $42,000 check on Wednesday.
The pledges of support mark a dramatic turnaround by GOP leaders who actively opposed O’Donnell’s candidacy.
The race, however, left a bitter taste with Castle. Since losing, he has refused to endorse O’Donnell in the general election and his campaign has questioned O’Donnell’s honesty and integrity.
Senate Republican leaders have watched several of their favored candidates go down in flames in Republican primaries this year.
In addition to Castle, Sen. Bob Bennett (R) in Utah, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska, Secretary of State Trey Grayson in Kentucky, Jane Norton in Colorado, former state party chairwoman Sue Lowden in Nevada and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) all failed to appeal to GOP primary voters.
Some of these primaries have left bad blood between the candidates.
Murkowski has not endorsed Joe Miller, the GOP Senate candidate in Alaska, and is even mulling an independent bid as a write-in candidate.
The same has been true in primaries where the establishment-backed candidate prevailed.
J.D. Hayworth, who ran a hard-fought campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), has yet to publicly back his former opponent.
Several of these primary races have created divisions between Republicans in Washington, most notably between party leaders and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), chairman of the conservative Senate Steering Committee.
It has also pitted GOP leaders against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).
DeMint and Palin endorsed O’Donnell last week, despite the strong opposition of GOP leaders to her campaign.
DeMint was an early supporter of GOP nominee Marco Rubio in Florida and Ken Buck, who defeated Norton in a bruising primary in Colorado.
DeMint also quickly endorsed Mike Lee after he defeated Bennett in Utah, and Joe Miller after he beat Murkowski in Alaska.
DeMint made waves when he announced his support in early May for Tea Party-backed nominee Rand Paul in the Kentucky Senate race. DeMint’s announcement came a day after McConnell endorsed Grayson.