Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, a longtime congressman and former governor with expertise in education issues, lost the GOP U.S. Senate nomination tonight to Christine O’Donnell, a tea party-backed marketing and media consultant.
Castle’s defeat means that Congress is losing a moderate GOP lawmaker with a long record on, and a lot of interest in, K-12 issues. Folks in Washington saw him as someone who could help the GOP and Democrats reach a consensus on thorny education issues. Just a few months ago, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan applauded him for helping to inform some of the ideas presented in the U.S. Department of Education’s blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
O’Donnell will face off against Chris Coons, the New Castle County Executive, who is now favored to win the seat in blue-state Delaware. Coons also has a record on education issues; he serves on the board of the Rodel Foundation, which helped craft Delaware’s winning application in the federal Race to the Top competition.
UPDATE: Check out Flypaper’s take on Castle’s defeat.