Republican Rep. Michael Castle announced at a press conference today in Wilmington, Del., that he will seek the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Vice President Biden last year — instantly boosting the GOP’s chances of capturing a Democratic seat.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which handicaps congressional races, called Castle’s candidacy a “major recruiting victory” for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Cook moved the race from the “solid Democratic” column to the “toss up” column.

This breaking news from USA Today raises two interesting questions:  First, will RNC Chair Michael Steele denounce him, too?  Second, will Castle continue to advocate for clean energy jobs and climate legislation, or will he try to walk away from his vote like Mark Kirk has in Illinois?

After all, the climate vote is increasingly becoming a litmus test for conservatives (see “Honey, I shrunk the GOP, Part 3: RNC Chair Steele withdraws support for Rep. Kirk over his vote on climate and clean energy bill“).

Some hypocrisy on the issue is already clear:

 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the NRSC … promised that the GOP Senate campaign committee “will ensure that Mike Castle has all the necessary resources to win.”

Huh.  It’s apparently an unpardonable sin to support climate and clean energy action in a competitive primary, but not in an uncompetitive one.

Still, let’s not forget top conservative blogger Michele Malkin, who put this poster on her website after the House vote:

Such is life in a party whose own intellectuals argue “maybe just brain dead.”