Mike Castle

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Mike Castle
Official portrait, 2006
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byTom Carper
Succeeded byJohn Carney
69th Governor of Delaware
In office
January 15, 1985 – December 31, 1992
LieutenantS. B. Woo
Dale E. Wolf
Preceded byPete du Pont
Succeeded byDale E. Wolf
20th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
In office
January 20, 1981 – January 15, 1985
GovernorPete du Pont
Preceded byJames D. McGinnis
Succeeded byS. B. Woo
Member of the Delaware Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 7, 1969 – January 4, 1977
Preceded byRussell D. F. Dineen
Succeeded byHarris McDowell III
Member of the Delaware House of Representatives
from the 6th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 7, 1969
Preceded byFrank A. Parisi
Succeeded byGeorge C. Hering III
Personal details
Michael Newbold Castle

(1939-07-02) July 2, 1939 (age 84)
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseJane DiSabatino
EducationHamilton College (BS)
Georgetown University (LLB)

Michael Newbold Castle (born July 2, 1939) is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 69th Governor of Delaware from 1985 to 1992 and as the U.S. representative from Delaware's at-large congressional district from 1993 to 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party.

The district includes the entire state of Delaware and is the oldest intact surviving district in the nation. He was the longest-serving U.S. Representative in the state's history.[1] Before his election to Congress, Castle served as a member of the Delaware General Assembly, starting in the State House of Representatives from 1966 to 1967 and then in the State Senate from 1968 to 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 election.[3] The election determined who would fill the balance of Biden's term, which ended on January 3, 2015. In one of the most surprising election results of 2010, Castle lost the Republican primary to Christine O'Donnell.[4] He would have been heavily favored in the general election against Democrat Chris Coons, who defeated O'Donnell by 17 percentage points.[5] Castle is the most recent Republican to represent Delaware in Congress.

Castle is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Castle was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Louisa Johnston (née Bache) and James Manderson Castle, Jr.[7] One of his maternal great-great-grandfathers was Virginia Senator John W. Johnston, and Castle's fifth great-grandfathers were founding fathers Benjamin Franklin and Daniel Carroll. 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, Oneida County, New York. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Hamilton in 1961.[8] While at Hamilton, Castle was a brother of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.[citation needed]

In 1964, he earned a Juris Doctor 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.


Michael Castle and Jane DiSabatino married on May 23, 1992; they have no children. Both are Roman Catholics.

Professional and political career[edit]

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 drunk driving.

Governor of Delaware[edit]

Lt. Governor Castle (left) with Governor Dick Thornburgh of Pennsylvania (center) and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, July 1982.

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, and is the last time a Republican won a governor election in the state. Castle served two terms, cutting the second one slightly short when he resigned to begin his first term as U.S. Representative.

U. S. House of Representatives[edit]

Castle during the 109th Congress

Committee assignments[edit]

In 1992, Castle could 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 Tom 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 the co-chair of several Congressional caucuses, including the Diabetes Caucus, the Community College Caucus, the Biomedical Research Caucus and the Passenger Rail Caucus. He was also considered one of the most moderate Republicans in the U.S. House. In the wake of Tom DeLay's indictment in September 2005, liberal columnist E.J. Dionne named Castle as one of four lawmakers capable of leading an anticorruption reform of the Republican Party. Castle was a member of various liberal Republican Organizations, such as Republicans For Environmental Protection, The Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans For Choice, and Christine Todd Whitman's Its My Party Too. He is pro-choice and supports some gun control measures.[9] He voted against a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.[10] The non-partisan National Journal gave Mike Castle an ideological composite score of 59% conservative and 41% liberal.[11]

Castle's centrist positions served him well in a state that trended increasingly Democratic during his tenure in the House. Delaware had long been reckoned as a bellwether, but has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, due almost entirely to heavily Democratic New Castle County. At the same time, his centrist record made him the target of conservative groups such as Club for Growth, who ranked him the least conservative Republican in the U.S. House in 2008, and 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.[12] In June 2008, Rep. Mark Kirk, R-IL, introduced H.R. 6257 to reinstate the ban, and Castle was one of the bill's four Republican co-sponsors.[13] Both bills died in committee.

Castle cosponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill proposed expanding the number of embryonic stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research, expecting that this funding would generate more research and ultimately greater progress in developing new treatments for a wide range of medical conditions. Presently, the only embryonic stem cell lines eligible for federal funded research were derived before August 9, 2001. 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.

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.[14][15]

During his term in Congress, Castle was known for his interest in numismatics. In 1995, he authored the legislation that created the American Platinum Eagle platinum bullion coin. He later sponsored the legislation that created the 50 State quarters, Sacagawea dollar, presidential dollar coins, and America the Beautiful quarters programs, and several commemorative coins.[16] His activity led the Numismatic Guaranty Company to deem him "The Coinage Congressman."[16] Castle drafted one sentence of the 1997 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of the Treasury may mint and issue platinum coins in such quantity and of such variety as the Secretary determines to be appropriate." His intent was to make it easier for the Treasury to mint platinum coins for the coin collector market, but the sentence allows the Treasury Department to mint platinum coinage in any denomination. In the event that Congress refused to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, the Treasury could thus mint a trillion-dollar coin to avoid default. This maneuver has been proposed by some commentators, but has never been done.[17]

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

2010 Senate campaign[edit]

In 2010, Congressman Castle ran to be the Republican candidate to fill the seat of former Senator Joe Biden, who had become Vice President on January 20, 2009. 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; in it, Castle beat Coons by a 21-point margin (54%–34%) and also had a favorable rating of 48% compared to O'Donnell's 34%.[18] Castle refused to support O'Donnell in the Senate campaign against Coons.[19] 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.[20]

Town hall[edit]

A town hall style meeting organized by Castle to discuss health care reform with constituents[21] was featured on the Drudge Report with the headline "VIDEO: Congressman's town hall erupts over Obama birth certificate ...".[22] The story was linked to a tape[23] 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.[24][25][26] 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."[21]

Reporting in the international press on the explosion of interest in the subject focused on the central role of the Castle incident. 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.[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.[citation needed]

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 Democratic Sherman W. Tribbitt 1st
1975–1976 128th State Senate Democratic 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

Electoral history[edit]

1980 Delaware lieutenant gubernatorial election[28]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle 128,827 58.72
Democratic Thomas B. Sharp 88,224 40.21
N/A Other 2,341 1.07
Total votes 219,392 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
1984 Delaware gubernatorial election[29]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle 135,250 55.53
Democratic William T. Quillen 108,315 44.47
Total votes 243,565 100.00
Republican hold
1988 Delaware gubernatorial election[30]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 169,733 70.73
Democratic Jacob Kreshtool 70,236 29.27
Total votes 239,969 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 1992[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle 153,037 55.42
Democratic S.B. Woo 117,426 42.53
Libertarian Peggy Schmitt 5,661 2.05
Total votes 276,124 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 1994[32]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 137,960 70.74
Democratic Carol Ann DeSantis 97,565 26.56
Libertarian Danny Ray Beaver 3,869 1.98
A Delaware Party Donald M. Hockmuth 1,405 0.72
Total votes 195,037 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 1996[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 185,576 69.55
Democratic Dennis E. Williams 73,253 27.45
Libertarian George Jurgensens 4,000 1.50
Constitution Felicia Johnson 3,009 1.13
Natural Law Bob Mattson 987 0.37
Total votes 275,591 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 1998[34]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 119,811 66.36
Democratic Dennis E. Williams 57,446 31.82
Constitution James P. Webster 2,411 1.34
Natural Law Kim Stanley Bemis 859 0.48
Total votes 180,527 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 2000[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 211,797 67.64
Democratic Michael C. Miller 96,488 30.81
Constitution James P. Webster 2,490 0.80
Libertarian Kim Stanley Bemis 2,351 0.75
Total votes 313,126 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 2002[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 164,605 72.24
Democratic Michael C. Miller 61,011 26.78
Libertarian Brad C. Thomas 2,789 0.98
Total votes 227,865 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 2004[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 245,808 69.09
Democratic Paul Donnelly 105,634 29.69
Independent Party Maurice J. Barros 2,334 0.66
Libertarian William E. Morris 2,012 0.56
Total votes 355,788 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's At-large congressional district election, 2006[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 143,897 57.17
Democratic Dennis Spivack 97,565 38.76
Independent Party Karen M. Hartley-Nagle 5,769 2.29
Green Michael Berg 4,463 1.77
Total votes 251,694 100.00
Republican hold
Delaware's at-large congressional district election, 2008[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Castle (incumbent) 235,437 61.08
Democratic Karen Hartley-Nagle 146,434 37.99
Libertarian Mark Parks 3,586 0.93
Total votes 385,457 100.00
Delaware Republican Party hold
2010 Republican primary results for Delaware U.S. Senate[40]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Christine O'Donnell 30,561 53.07
Republican Mike Castle 27,021 46.93
Total votes 57,582 100.00


  1. ^ "Rep. Mike Castle announces run for U.S. Senate". WHYY. October 6, 2009. Archived from the original on November 6, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
  2. ^ "Delaware GOP Congressman to Run for Biden's Former Senate Seat". FOX News. October 6, 2009. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Brumfield, Sarah (November 25, 2008). "Longtime Biden aide picked to fill his Senate seat". FOX News. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  4. ^ "Christine O'Donnell upsets Mike Castle in Delaware Senate primary". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "Election 2010: Delaware Senate". Rasmussenreports.com. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  6. ^ "ReFormers Caucus". Issue One. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Barone, Michael; Richard E. Cohen; Grant Ujifusa (2008). The Almanac of American Politics. Washington, D.C.: National Journal Group. p. 370.
  8. ^ "Delaware Congressman, Alumnus Mike Castle to Deliver Commencement Address". Hamilton College. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  9. ^ "Delaware Senate Race: A Kamikaze Republican and the Tea Party". ABC News. September 14, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Issues2000.org. "Michael Castle on the Issues". www.ontheissues.org. Retrieved July 8, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Mike Castle's Rating and Endorsements". votesmart.org.
  12. ^ H.R. 3831
  13. ^ H.R. 6257
  14. ^ Chris Geidner, House Passes DADT Repeal Bill Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, Metro Weekly (December 15, 2010).
  15. ^ House Vote 638 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Archived 2016-01-18 at the Wayback Machine, New York Times (December 15, 2010).
  16. ^ a b NGC Honors Mike Castle with New Congressional Series Label Archived 25 October 2022 at the Wayback Machine, CoinNews.net (May 6, 2022).
  17. ^ "Treasury: We won't mint a platinum coin to sidestep the debt ceiling". Washington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  18. ^ "O'Donnell Winning Tea Party, Losing Delaware" (PDF). Publicmind.fdu.edu. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  19. ^ David Catanese (September 15, 2010). "Mike Castle Won't Endorse Christine O'Donnell". Politico.
  20. ^ von Spakovsky, Hans A. (June 24, 2010). "The Fight over the DISCLOSE Act Is Far from Over". National Review. Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
  21. ^ a b [1] Archived July 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "DRUDGE REPORT 2011". Drudgereport.com. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  23. ^ "Mike Castle on Barack H. Obama Birth certificate". YouTube. June 30, 2009. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  24. ^ "Hardball with Chris Matthews". MSNBC. Archived from the original on July 24, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  25. ^ Rick PerlsteinJuly 21, 2009 (July 21, 2009). "Feeling the Wrath of Bill O'Reilly's Army". Newsweek. Retrieved January 4, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Becker, Bernie (July 22, 2009). "The Early Word: Prime-Time Night". The New York Times.
  27. ^ McGreal, Chris (July 28, 2009). "Anti-Obama 'birther movement' gathers steam". The Guardian. London, UK.
  28. ^ "State Of Delaware Official Result of General Election 1980" (PDF).
  29. ^ "1984 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Delaware". Archived from the original on August 27, 2022.
  30. ^ "State of Delaware - Official Election Results 1988" (PDF). State of Delaware. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "State Of Delaware 1992 General Election Results" (PDF).
  32. ^ "State Of Delaware Official Results 1994" (PDF).
  33. ^ "State Of Delaware 1996 Election Results" (PDF).
  38. ^ "STATE OF DELAWARE General Election (Official Results)".
  39. ^ "STATE OF DELAWARE General Election (Official Results)".
  40. ^ "STATE OF DELAWARE Primary Election (Official Results)".


  • Barone, Michael; Richard E. Cohen (2005). Almanac of American Politics. Washington: National Journal Group. ISBN 0-89234-112-2.
  • Boyer, William W. (2000). Governing Delaware. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, DE: Roger A. Martin.


  • Profile, Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress; accessed June 16, 2017.

External links[edit]

Delaware House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank A. Parisi
Member of the Delaware House of Representatives
from the 6th district

Succeeded by
George C. Hering III
Delaware Senate
Preceded by
Russell D. F. Dineen
Member of the Delaware Senate
from the 1st district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Delaware
1984, 1988
Succeeded by
Gary Scott
Preceded by Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
New office Chair of the Tuesday Group
Served alongside: Nancy Johnson, Fred Upton
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States Succeeded byas Former Governor