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O’Donnell Gets in Conservative Underdogs’ Corner

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Updated: 3 p.m., Dec. 10

Christine O’Donnell wants to help other conservatives take on establishment Republicans, so she’s starting a new political action committee to help inexperienced candidates with a “passion” for conservative values avoid making the mistakes that tripped up her campaign this year.

“It’s to help the underdog candidate find their way,” the Delaware Republican told Roll Call in an interview Wednesday. Speaking from a Northern Virginia hotel the morning after a dinner with tea party activists, O’Donnell praised independent-minded candidates and outlined her tentative vision for transitioning her losing Senate campaign into a political action committee.

The PAC is still in the works as her team figures out its structure, she said. The tea party darling, who also is writing a book to be published next summer, said she hopes to use the PAC to influence policy in an attempt “to raise awareness and engage the populace on issues like the death tax and repealing Obamacare.”

“The broader mission is to be a resource for everyday Americans who feel the stir in their heart to run for office, whether it’s on the state level or federal level, but who don’t have resources to find their way through a very complicated process,” O’Donnell said. “That’s in a nutshell the goal. The mechanics ... we still have to figure out.”

Some members of the O’Donnell team were part of the first “tea party” race, a 2009 special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional district that pitted an establishment Republican against conservative candidate Doug Hoffman.

O’Donnell speculated that first-time candidates unfamiliar with campaign rules and regulations might not get much help from their local Republican Party, especially if they are seeking to challenge an establishment candidate in a primary.

“[If] the local party won’t return their call because they don’t want these troublemakers in the trenches running for office, I want my PAC to return their call,” she said.

The PAC might be able to help candidates navigate Federal Election Commission requirements, some of which have snagged O’Donnell. Her campaign operations remain a matter of interest, even as she moves on to the next phase of her political career.

Her FEC filings made public this week showed her dramatic transformation from little-known candidate to tea party superstar nearly overnight. She impressed with her online fundraising, and her campaign raised $7.3 million through Election Day, even ending with a cash balance of $925,000 as of Nov. 22.

(Case in point: Her Senate campaign refunded $2,400 to writer Dean Koontz and another $2,400 to his wife, Gerda, on Nov. 22. It turns out that the California couple gave the candidate too much money.)

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