DeMint emerging as a genuine force in the senate

Rick Moran
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) is no stranger to controversy within his own party. He has been very critical of "watered down Republicanism" that he believes is responsible for so much of Obama's agenda being passed.

Instead of sitting back and whining about it, DeMint has gone out and done something; he has created an organization that recruits, funds, and supports strong conservatives running for the senate across the country. In so doing, his influence has skyrocketed and, if some of his recruits are elected in November, he will occupy the rarefied position of kingmaker in the GOP with an outsized influence on the senate's agenda next year.

Business Week:

DeMint formed a political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, in late 2008 with the goal of backing candidates that the national party was likely to ignore. The fund ranked Senate Republicans on how conservative they were. DeMint was the only one to score 100 percent; Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, came in at 79.His group first took aim at Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who often voted with Democrats. DeMint endorsed Specter's primary opponent, Pat Toomey, a former congressman known as a tax-cutter and fiscal hawk. Specter left the Republican Party a few days later to run as a Democrat, and lost.

That victory emboldened DeMint to take on more of the Republican Establishment, starting with Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a moderate seeking a U.S. Senate seat. DeMint raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the former state speaker, Marco Rubio. In April, as polls showed Rubio running away with the race, Crist left the party. "Republicans would not have the wind at our backs if we stood up for candidates like Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist," DeMint says.

Since then, DeMint's money and manpower have upset Senate Republican primaries in Colorado, Utah, Kentucky, and Delaware. Of the 13 candidates he's endorsed, only three have lost. Last year he raised $1.3 million. This year his PAC has pulled in more than $4 million, says spokesman Matt Hoskins.

That's an impressive record, and very good fundraising totals. If 5 or 6 of his candidates win - and he can exert a modicum of control over them on key votes - DeMint will be one of the axis' of power in the senate. Very little will get done without his say so.

Bad news for Obama and Harry Reid. The question might be asked is that bad news for Republicans too?

With the economy in crisis, there will be a very fine line that DeMint must walk between blocking Obama's far left agenda but not standing in the way of legislation that could help kick start the economy. Much will depend on the perception of voters who are tired of big spending stimulus plans but want Washington to do something about jobs. As long as DeMint sticks to his guns, he and the GOP should be alright.

 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky



Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) is no stranger to controversy within his own party. He has been very critical of "watered down Republicanism" that he believes is responsible for so much of Obama's agenda being passed.

Instead of sitting back and whining about it, DeMint has gone out and done something; he has created an organization that recruits, funds, and supports strong conservatives running for the senate across the country. In so doing, his influence has skyrocketed and, if some of his recruits are elected in November, he will occupy the rarefied position of kingmaker in the GOP with an outsized influence on the senate's agenda next year.

Business Week:

DeMint formed a political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, in late 2008 with the goal of backing candidates that the national party was likely to ignore. The fund ranked Senate Republicans on how conservative they were. DeMint was the only one to score 100 percent; Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, came in at 79.

His group first took aim at Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who often voted with Democrats. DeMint endorsed Specter's primary opponent, Pat Toomey, a former congressman known as a tax-cutter and fiscal hawk. Specter left the Republican Party a few days later to run as a Democrat, and lost.

That victory emboldened DeMint to take on more of the Republican Establishment, starting with Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a moderate seeking a U.S. Senate seat. DeMint raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the former state speaker, Marco Rubio. In April, as polls showed Rubio running away with the race, Crist left the party. "Republicans would not have the wind at our backs if we stood up for candidates like Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist," DeMint says.

Since then, DeMint's money and manpower have upset Senate Republican primaries in Colorado, Utah, Kentucky, and Delaware. Of the 13 candidates he's endorsed, only three have lost. Last year he raised $1.3 million. This year his PAC has pulled in more than $4 million, says spokesman Matt Hoskins.

That's an impressive record, and very good fundraising totals. If 5 or 6 of his candidates win - and he can exert a modicum of control over them on key votes - DeMint will be one of the axis' of power in the senate. Very little will get done without his say so.

Bad news for Obama and Harry Reid. The question might be asked is that bad news for Republicans too?

With the economy in crisis, there will be a very fine line that DeMint must walk between blocking Obama's far left agenda but not standing in the way of legislation that could help kick start the economy. Much will depend on the perception of voters who are tired of big spending stimulus plans but want Washington to do something about jobs. As long as DeMint sticks to his guns, he and the GOP should be alright.

 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky