Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is already building an aggressive campaign machine for the 2012 Senate elections, promising to push his party further to the right, despite angering many in the GOP establishment with his political activities last year.
DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund wants to rake in a staggering $15 million, which is nearly $6 million more than in 2010 when his political action committee raised more money than any other politician’s PAC.
DeMint is now renting a Capitol Hill townhouse for his political operation — just a few blocks from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the official campaign arm for Senate Republicans. And unlike the NRSC, which plans to stay out of contested primaries, DeMint is prepared to be an active force, jumping into intraparty battles by pushing conservative candidates against moderate Republicans.
The buildup is the latest sign that DeMint has become the pre-eminent conservative political activist in the Senate, and he plans to push candidates whose ideological views align with his and the tea party movement’s — even if it sets up a major clash with the NRSC, which always looks for the most electable prospect.
This year, DeMint says he’s not trying to compete with Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the NRSC. And both committees appear eager to avoid the same sort of collision course that prompted a nasty round of finger-pointing last November, when the GOP fell four seats short of winning control of the Senate, despite significantly narrowing the Democratic majority.
At that time, DeMint was blamed by many of his Republican colleagues for propping up weak candidates who either could not win a general election or needed tons of Washington cash to stay competitive in their races. But DeMint said he was backing those with strong principles of small government, which had been abandoned by many Washington Republicans. Still, he has repeatedly said he would rather have a caucus of 30 principled conservative senators than 60 who lack those convictions.
In a peace offering to the seven GOP incumbents who are still seeking reelection, DeMint has vowed not to back any primary challenger against them — even in the case of Maine’s moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe. Instead, DeMint will focus his attention on open seats and against the 23 Democratic seats that are in cycle.Hmm. Wonder what effect DeMint's effforts might have on the 2012 Presidential Race...