For Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, not all hypotheticals are created equal.
Cornyn, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, refused to discuss whether his organization would support Tea Party-backed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell if she wins the Republican nomination tonight over Rep. Mike Castle, saying that he would not “respond to a hypothetical.”
But when discussing past state elections in which established Republicans are challenged by Tea Party candidates, Cornyn had no trouble saying he would support whichever Republican wins the nomination. When Joe Miller ran against sitting Sen. Lisa Murkowski in last month’s Alaska primary, Cornyn reportedly called Miller and said he would support the Republican in the general election. In April, Cornyn said the same thing about the Arizona Republican Senate primary race between Sen. John McCain and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.
But Cornyn would not say the same when asked about O’Donnell.
“I’m not going to answer that question because it’s a hypothetical,” he told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow, how about that?”
When asked a few hours earlier if the NRSC would put money behind O’Donnell if she were the candidate, Cornyn told CNN, “I think we’ll have to have a little powwow,” suggesting that there was not yet a consensus in the organization as to whether to put money behind her candidacy in the general election.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, however, told MNSBC that he would support O’Donnell if she won the election. “I’m going to support the nominee,” McConnell said.
A recent poll put the Delaware Republican primary at a statistical dead heat. A Public Policy Polling survey on Monday showed O’Donnell to be three percentage points ahead of Castle. When put up against Democratic nominee Chris Coons in hypothetical match-ups, a Rasmussen poll shows O’Donnell trailing by 11 points, while the survey has Castle winning by the same number.
Polls in Delaware close tonight at 8:00 PM ET.