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Mike Castle Open to Changes in Senate Rules

Delaware Rep. Mike Castle (R) was one of two Republicans to vote for the state fiscal aid bill. He was the only Republican to vote for the DISCLOSE Act; in fact, he co-sponsored it. As the Congressional schedule has moved on this year, Castle has moderated his tone on a number of fronts, after voting against the stimulus, the health care bill and financial reform earlier.

This is no doubt due to the fact that he’s running for Senate in Delaware, and doesn’t want to give his Democratic opponent Chris Coons any oxygen. Polls show Castle, a longtime fixture in state politics, with a healthy lead, but still under 50% against his less well-known opponent. And Castle could be susceptible to a “Sheldon Whitehouse” strategy, where his views are not as important as control of the Senate, and Coons makes an appeal based more on who Castle would vote for as Majority Leader.

Perhaps because of this, Castle expressed to blogger/reporter Mike Stark a willingness to look at Senate filibuster reform.

Stark: If you win your Senate seat, would you support filibuster reform?

Castle: I might. I’d look at that, it’s something I would certainly look at… I think that’s an issue that transcends Republicans or Democrats. It’s a question of how well does the Senate function. I’m impressed with Senators who have been there a long time, who argue that’s it’s perfectly good. But from the outside, it looks to me like a distraction from pursuing an agenda.


Castle: I am basically looking at a lot of procedures in the Senate, in terms of their rules and lack thereof, and you know, trying to determine what improvements can be made… I may speak to that before the election.

At one level, this is not an entirely credible response. Castle would have six years of job security and would not be beholden to anyone who elected him, namely Republicans, to follow through on filibuster reform, especially if Democrats still held the chamber. However, Castle wasn’t altogether forthcoming about what rules he would seek to change, and could potentially find common ground on some that Democrats wished to push. Either that, or he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

This seems like something that Chris Coons could raise as an issue in the campaign, to press Castle for clarity on the subject. It would be interesting to see how he would attack it. I’ve invited Coons’ campaign to respond to this development, and will bring it to you when I get it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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