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Insurgent US 'Tea Party' scores another upset

US "Tea Party" conservatives scored another upset as a political novice routed a veteran lawmaker to become the Republican contender for Vice President Joe Biden's old senate seat.

US Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell celebrates with supporters during her Senate primary night party in Dover, Delaware. Insurgent US "Tea Party" conservatives scored another big upset victory, as the political novice routed a veteran lawmaker to become the Republican contender for Vice President Joe Biden's old senate seat.

With all precincts reporting, unofficial results showed Christine O'Donnell had beaten popular moderate Representative Mike Castle by a 53.1-46.9 percent margin in the Republican primary in the small US East Coast state of Delaware.

"The voters in the Republican primary have spoken and I respect that decision," Castle said in a somber concession speech in which he did not endorse his rival following a bitter weeks-long battle.

O'Donnell, who survived charges of past financial improprieties, harnessed anti-establishment anger and rode an endorsement from former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to a stunning victory.

"The people of Delaware have spoken: No more politics as usual," O'Donnell told cheering supporters in her victory speech.

"This is more of a cause than a campaign," she added.

Despite the "Tea Party" exuberance, the results handed Democrats a lifeline in their uphill struggle to hold Biden's seat in an election cycle defined by deep voter anger at the sour economy and unemployment near 10 percent.

Recent opinion polls had showed Castle expected to cruise to victory over Democratic county executive Chris Coons, who leads O'Donnell amid establishment Republican predictions that she cannot win in November.

"He'll win the general election. She won't," Tom Ross, chairman of the state's Republican Party was quoted as saying in The Washington Post this week.

Tea Party members scoffed at such predictions, and some analysts have warned Democrats that they underestimate the potential threat from the movement's energized supporters at their own peril.

In New Hampshire, another outsider with "Tea Party" support, Ovide Lamontagne, reportedly led former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte, an establishment pick who also enjoyed Palin's support.

Supporters of US Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell watch poll results showing that she won the Delaware US Senate primary in Dover, Delaware. Insurgent US "Tea Party" conservatives scored another big upset victory, as the political novice routed a veteran lawmaker to become the Republican contender for Vice President Joe Biden's old senate seat.

In the US capital Washington, voters were expected to reject incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in favor of council chair Vincent Gray in the Democratic primary that will all but certainly decide who gets the top job.

Tuesday's primaries came two weeks after another Tea Party-backed political novice, Joe Miller, upset incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Senate primary after a bitter campaign.

Murkowski's defeat brought to three the number of sitting senators toppled in early party contests this year. They included Democratic Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who lost after switching parties; and Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah.

Democrats hope primary victories by "Tea Party" candidates -- some prone to airing controversial views such as denying that climate change is real -- could blunt what is expected to be a crushing Republican victory on November 2.

Republicans had hoped Castle, the state's lone representative for two decades, would win Biden's seat after the vice president's son, Beau Biden, Delaware's Attorney General declined to run.

Former Biden aide Ted Kaufman, designated to serve out the vice president's term in the Senate, is not running.

Democrats are expected to hold the Senate seat once held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York, but are fighting to hold the seat vacated by President Barack Obama in Illinois.

All 435 House seats are up for grabs along with 37 of the 100 Senate seats in the November 2 election.

Several key analysts believe Republicans are in reach of winning the 39 seats they need to capture the House but still face long odds to snatch the Senate.