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Michael N. Castle

Michael Castle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's At-large district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Thomas R. Carper
Succeeded by John C. Carney, Jr.
69th Governor of Delaware
In office
January 15, 1985 – December 31, 1992
Lieutenant Shien Biau Woo
Dale E. Wolf
Preceded by Pierre S. du Pont IV
Succeeded by Dale E. Wolf
20th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
In office
January 20, 1981 – January 15, 1985
Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV
Preceded by James D. McGinnis
Succeeded by Shien Biau Woo
Personal details
Born Michael Newbold Castle
(1939-07-02) July 2, 1939 (age 75)
Wilmington, Delaware
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jane DiSabatino
Residence Wilmington, Delaware
Alma mater Hamilton College, Georgetown University Law Center
Profession lawyer, politician
Religion Catholic

Michael Newbold "Mike" Castle (born July 2, 1939) is an American politician who was Governor of Delaware from 1985 to 1992 and the U.S. Representative for Delaware's at-large congressional district from 1993 until 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party.

The district, which is the oldest in the nation, incorporates the entire state of Delaware. He was the longest-serving U.S. Representative in the state's history.[1] Prior to his election to Congress, Castle served as a member of the Delaware General Assembly, first in the State House of Representatives (1966–1967) and then in the State Senate (1968–1976). He was the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware from 1981 to 1985, and the 69th Governor of Delaware from 1985 to 1992.

On October 6, 2009, Castle announced his candidacy in the 2010 special election for the seat in the United States Senate held by Democrat Ted Kaufman.[2] Kaufman, appointed by Governor Ruth Ann Minner to fill the vacancy created by Joe Biden (who resigned to become Vice President of the United States), was not a candidate in the special election.[3] The election would determine who would fill the balance of Biden's term, which ends on January 3, 2015. In one of the most surprising election results of the 2010 campaign season, Castle was defeated in the Republican primary for the US Senate seat by Christine O'Donnell.[4] He would have been heavily favored against Democrat Chris Coons in the general election, who went on to easily beat O'Donnell by 17%.[5] On May 28, 2011, Castle was the keynote speaker at the commencement of the University of Delaware Class of 2011.[6]

Castle has acknowledged drafting the bill which became law and created the Trillion Dollar Coin controversy by apparently authorizing the United States Department of Treasury to mint platinum coinage in any denomination.[7]

Early life and family

Castle was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Louisa Johnston (née Bache) and James Manderson Castle, Jr.[8][9] One of Castle's maternal great-great-grandfathers was Virginia Senator John W. Johnston, and Castle's fifth great-grandfather was founding father Benjamin Franklin. Castle's father was a patent lawyer for DuPont, a firm so central to the city that it was long known in Wilmington simply as "the company." After graduating from Tower Hill School in 1957, he attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Hamilton in 1961. While at Hamilton, Castle was a brother of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.

In 1964, he earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. He was admitted to both the Delaware Bar and the Washington, D.C. Bar that same year.

He married Jane DiSabatino on May 23, 1992; they have no children. They are members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Professional and political career

Following his admission to the bar, Castle returned to Wilmington and joined Connolly, Bove and Lodge, working as an associate (1964–1973) and later partner (1973–1975). A Republican, he served as Deputy Attorney General of Delaware from 1965 to 1966, and was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in 1966. He served as a state representative for two years before winning a seat in the Delaware Senate, where he remained for eight years. He also served as minority leader from 1975 to 1976.

In 1976, Castle left the state legislature and returned to the full-time practice of law, founding his own firm with Carl Schnee (who was later nominated as U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware by President Bill Clinton in 1999). He returned to politics in 1980, when he was recruited to run for Lieutenant Governor of Delaware by Governor Pete du Pont. He defeated Democratic state senator Thomas B. Sharp, with 59% to 40% of the vote. He served from 1981 to 1985, and headed panels on education and drunken driving.

Governor of Delaware

As the hand-picked choice of the popular Governor du Pont, he easily won election as Governor of Delaware, defeating former Delaware Supreme Court Justice William T. Quillen. In the campaign, Castle was criticized for being a shadow of his mentor and only promising an extension of du Pont’s program. Delaware voters however elected him to another term in 1988 when he defeated Democrat Jacob Kreshtool by a wide margin. Castle served two terms, cutting the second one slightly short when he resigned to begin his first term as U.S. Representative.

Castle’s terms marked the full establishment of what Delaware political commentator Celia Cohen has called “the Age of Incumbency.” Following du Pont’s very successful and popular terms as Governor, Delaware politics seemed to have reached a consensus, with leaders of both parties being regularly re-elected, while working closely and quietly together on a conservative fiscal low tax, pro business, and clean government agenda. Prior to du Pont only four men had served eight years as Governor and one of those had two non-consecutive terms. From 1977 until the present there have been four governors, two from each party, each emulating Castle in essentially carrying out the program initiated by Pierre S. du Pont, IV.

U. S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

In 1992, Castle did not run again for Governor, due to constitutional term limits. The result was what became known as "the Swap." Castle ran for the seat of U.S. Representative Thomas R. Carper and Carper ran for Governor. Delaware’s political leadership had quietly worked out the arrangement and retained the services of two very popular office holders.

Castle was first elected U.S. Representative in 1992, defeating former Lieutenant Governor Shien Biau Woo. Since then, he won election by wide margins eight times, defeating Democrats Carol Ann DeSantis in 1994, Dennis E. Williams in 1996 and 1998, Michael C. Miller in 2000 and 2002, Paul Donnelly in 2004, Dennis Spivack in 2006, and Karen Hartley-Nagle in 2008.

Castle was president of the RemoveRINOs, who, in April 2010, named him the Ace of Spades on its most-wanted list.

In February 2004, Castle sponsored H.R. 3831 to reauthorize the assault weapons ban of 1994. The bill was co-sponsored by 11 Republican colleagues and 129 Democrats.[10] In June 2008, Rep. Mark Kirk, R-IL, introduced H.R. 6257 to reinstate the ban, and Castle was one of the bills four Republican co-sponsors.[11] Both bills died in committee.

Castle cosponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill proposed expanding the number of stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research, expecting that this funding would generate more research and ultimately greater progress in addressing many kinds of diseases. Presently only those lines derived before August 9, 2001 are eligible for federal funded research. This legislation removes that date restriction, along with proposing stronger ethical requirements. After successfully passing both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, it received U.S. President George W. Bush’s first presidential veto in July 2006. Despite the production of induced pluripotent stem cell research, Castle still pushed for the funding of embryonic stem cell research.

In December 2010, Castle was one of fifteen Republican House members to vote in favor of repealing the United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay service members.[12][13]

Castle suffered two minor strokes during the 2006 campaign, but fully recovered. Considering the general Democratic sweep of other offices, he won the election comfortably, but with a greatly reduced margin over previous years. Despite the increased Democratic sweep of the 2008 election, he, unlike many Republicans, managed to increase his margin of victory, winning over Democratic challenger Karen Hartley-Nagle by 23 points. Considering his moderate profile, popularity, and long history of service to the state, his victory was not considered surprising. Castle appeared in the documentary, Keeping the Peace, which focused on Michael Berg's 'anti-war' campaign for Castle's congressional seat in 2006. It premiered at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival in 2009 and won the Audience Award.

On November 9th, 2009, Congressman Castle's District was profiled by Stephen Colbert in his segment "Better Know a District."

2010 Senate Campaign

In 2010, Congressman Castle ran to be the Republican candidate to fill the seat of Former Senator Joe Biden, now Vice President. Castle was defeated in the Republican primary on September 14, 2010, by Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party favorite. The primary drew 57,000 voters, a small slice of the overall electorate. After the primary, Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind twice polled Delaware voters, running a hypothetical match-up between Castle and the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons: Castle beat Coons by a 21 point margin (54%-34%) and also had a favorable rating of 48% compared to O'Donnell's 34%.[14] Castle refused to support O'Donnell in the senate campaign against Coons.[15] Coons went on to defeat O'Donnell decisively in the general election.

In June 2010, Castle was one of only two Republicans to vote in favor of the DISCLOSE Act, intended to limit spending on political campaigns by corporations in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The bill requires added disclosure for political spending by corporations and prohibits some corporate political spending.[16]

Town Hall

A town hall style meeting organized by Castle to discuss health care reform with constituents[17] was featured on the Drudge Report with the headline "VIDEO: Congressman's town hall erupts over Obama birth certificate...".[18] The story was linked to a tape[19] documenting a few minutes of the event and hosted on YouTube. The incident sparked discussion of the topic in relation to the moderate Republican congressman and commentators' surprise at the audience reaction.[20][21][22] Castle was heckled and booed after calmly responding to a protester, "If you’re referring to the President there, he is a citizen of the United States.” [17] The incident has become a focus of attention[23] in some [24] evaluations of the period.

Reporting in the international press on the explosion of interest in the subject focused on the central role of the Castle incident.[25] The British newspaper The Guardian reported:

But the real impact has been a video that has garnered hundreds of thousands of hits on the web (in which Congressman) Mike Castle, address(es) a town hall meeting on health care in Delaware last month when a woman suddenly stands up waving a bunch of papers...The encounter was a warning to Republican officials how far the conspiracy theory has permeated parts of their party.[26]

The Delaware News Journal reported that Castle's next town hall meeting would be "YouTube-proof" and that he had decided to talk with Delawareans randomly selected by telephone rather than in person.[27]


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the Delaware General Assembly take office the second Tuesday of January. State Senators have a four-year term and State Representatives have a two-year term. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor take office the third Tuesday of January and have four-year terms. U.S. Representatives take office January 3 and have a two-year term.

Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority President
pro tempore
House Majority Speaker
1985–1986 133rd Democratic Richard S. Cordrey Republican Charles L. Hebner
1987–1988 134th Democratic Richard S. Cordrey Republican B. Bradford Barnes
Terry R. Spence
1989–1990 135th Democratic Richard S. Cordrey Republican Terry R. Spence
1991–1992 136th Democratic Richard S. Cordrey Republican Terry R. Spence
Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Representative Legislature Dover January 10, 1967 January 14, 1969
State Senator Legislature Dover January 14, 1969 January 11, 1977
Lt. Governor Executive Dover January 20, 1981 January 15, 1985
Governor Executive Dover January 15, 1985 December 31, 1992 resigned
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington January 3, 1993 January 3, 2011
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor District
1967–1968 124th State House Democratic Charles L. Terry, Jr. 6th
1969–1970 125th State Senate Republican Russell W. Peterson 1st
1971–1972 126th State Senate Republican Russell W. Peterson 1st
1973–1974 127th State Senate Republican Sherman W. Tribbitt 1st
1975–1976 128th State Senate Republican Sherman W. Tribbitt 1st
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1993–1995 103rd U.S. House Democratic Bill Clinton Education, Financial Services at-large
1995–1997 104th U.S. House Republican Bill Clinton Education, Financial Services at-large
1997–1999 105th U.S. House Republican Bill Clinton Education, Financial Services at-large
1999–2001 106th U.S. House Republican Bill Clinton Education, Financial Services at-large
2001–2003 107th U.S. House Republican George W. Bush Education, Financial Services at-large
2003–2005 108th U.S. House Republican George W. Bush Education, Financial Services at-large
2005–2007 109th U.S. House Republican George W. Bush Education, Financial Services at-large
2007–2009 110th U.S. House Democratic George W. Bush Education, Financial Services at-large
2009–2011 111th U.S. House Democratic Barack Obama Education, Financial Services at-large
Election results
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1980 Lt. Governor General Michael N. Castle Republican 128,827 59% Thomas B. Sharp Democratic 88,224 40%
1984 Governor General Michael N. Castle Republican 135,250 55% William T. Quillen Democratic 108,315 45%
1988 Governor General Michael N. Castle Republican 169,733 71% Jacob Kreshtool Democratic 70,236 29%
1992 U.S. Representative Primary Michael N. Castle Republican 18,377 56% Janet C. Rzewnicki Republican 9,812 30%
1992 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 153,037 55% Shien Biau Woo Democratic 117,426 43%
1994 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 137,945 71% Carol Ann DeSantis Democratic 51,793 27%
1996 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 185,577 70% Dennis E. Williams Democratic 73,258 27%
1998 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 119,811 66% Dennis E. Williams Democratic 57,446 32%
2000 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 211,797 68% Michael C. Miller Democratic 96,488 31%
2002 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 164,605 72% Michael C. Miller Democratic 61,011 27%
2004 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 245,978 69% Paul Donnelly Democratic 105,716 30%
2006 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 143,897 57% Dennis Spivack Democratic 97,555 39%
2008 U.S. Representative General Michael N. Castle Republican 235,419 61.1% Karen Hartley-Nagle Democratic 146,399 38.0%
2010 U.S. Senator Primary Michael N. Castle Republican 27,021 46.9% Christine O' Donnell Republican 30,561 53.1%



  • Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

External links

  • U.S. Congressman Mike Castle official U.S. House site
  • Mike Castle for U.S. Senate official campaign site
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Project Vote Smart
  • GovTrack
  • Federal Election Commission
  • On the Issues
  • The Washington Post
  • C-SPAN programs
  • The New York Times
  • National Governors Association
  • Delaware’s Governors
  • The Political Graveyard
  • SourceWatch
  • News Meat
  • Stem Cell Bill Gets Bush's First Veto
  • The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act
Preceded by
Thomas R. Carper
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
John C. Carney, Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Pierre S. du Pont IV
Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Dale E. Wolf
Preceded by
James D. McGinnis
Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Shien Biau Woo
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