Jim DeMint Emerging as a Heavyweight in the GOP

While former Alaska Governor, Fox News media personality and Twitterer galore Sarah Palin has caused a splash with her high profile endorsements of Mama Grizzlies and Papa Bears, her record, so far, hasn't been anything to brag about. Meanwhile, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina as The State put it seems to have "the Midas touch." He's 6 and 2 overall with some of those six wins knocking off big name GOP establishment picks. If DeMint were a big game hunter, you might say he's the RINO killer.

It's true that nationwide, in the three US Senate Republican primaries in which both Palin and DeMint made endorsements, each has picked two winners — Rand Paul in Kentucky for both, Carly Fiorina in California for Palin and Dino Rossi in Washington for DeMint — but DeMint is quietly amassing key wins in other races where Palin didn't make an endorsement. While the Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina did wallop Chuck DeVore in the high profile California GOP Senate primary, DeMint has now returned the favor as his pick in Washington trounced the Palin-backed Clint Didier. 

Moreover, candidates that Palin supported in Senate races in Kansas, Wyoming and now Washington state lost their primaries despite her high-profile endorsements. Most embarrassing was the loss by Karen Handel who fell short in her runoff contest against Rep. Nathan Deal for Georgia governor just a day after Palin flew to Atlanta for a last minute appearance. Hopes of putting Handel over the top were dashed. Instead, Rep. Deal, who was backed by Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, eked out a narrow win.

Now, Alaska's Senate primary on Tuesday is shaping up as another embarrassing defeat in her own backyard. Senator Lisa Murkowski is expected to dispatch the challenger Palin has endorsed in the Republican contest proving that the Murkowski dynasty still rules the roost in the Last Frontier. In New Hampshire and Maryland, Palin-backed candidates also seem headed for defeat.

DeMint, however, is riding high having backed Marco Rubio in Florida early on. His endorsement of the former Speaker of the Florida House 14 months ago when he was trailing Governor Charlie Crist badly has proved both pivotal and prescient. The Cuban-American Rubio rode the Tea Party wave and blessed with a $421,000 infusion of cash from DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund PAC crested in the polls. As Crist faded, he was forced to leave the GOP to run as an independent. Score one for DeMint with bonus points for shooting a RINO.

DeMint publicly backed Rand Paul, the libertarian Tea Party darling, on May 5 — a day after US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Paul’s GOP primary opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. When the dust settled in that race, DeMint bagged his second RINO and bonus points for putting a shiner on McConnell in his home state.

The conservative South Carolinian also caused a buzz in the Beehive State. After Senator Bob Bennett was eliminated from the nominating process at the Utah State Nominating Convention, DeMint endorsed Mike Lee. DeMint's endorsement for Lee was delivered at the convention through a video message that was played for the delegates before they cast their votes on the final ballot between Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater. So far, DeMint's PAC has contributed $217,000 to Lee who faces Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission Chairman Sam Granato in the general election. 

Another contrarian pick by DeMint came in Colorado where he backed Ken Buck over the John McCain and establishment pick Jane Norton, another RINO hit. DeMint's PAC, by the way, sent $375,000 Buck's way. 

While DeMint didn’t endorse Nevada's Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite, until the day after her June 8 Republican primary win, he has now made up for that by contributing $312,000 to her campaign.

With these endorsements and campaign cash, DeMint has now quietly positioning himself as the de facto leader of the conservative wing of the GOP. Whether the Republicans take back the Senate or not, it's likely that come January Senator DeMint will be in a leadership role. The conservative website Red State is pushing for DeMint as the next Republican Conference Chair arguing that he is "tough as nails, and knows that the best compromise is getting the other side to concede." Red State finds such a development  to be "pure bliss."

Further down the line, Senator DeMint who will win re-election to a second term in the Fall in a cakewalk — 70 percent is not out of the question — has to be seen as a viable Vice Presidential candidate. He'll also play a decisive role come the 2012 South Carolina primary where his choice may end up as the GOP nominee. 

Tags: Senator Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, GOP 2012 (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

Media Personalities

I suppose, by now, we've learned that media personalities love free advertising.  We ceded control to big corporations a long time ago, and they will always have a poster child.

This analysis is correct, as far as I can tell - the author is right in his assertion. But it doesn't solve the problem of how to energize the base in the Democratic party. I wrote a diary on this today.

 

by Trey Rentz 2010-08-20 10:01AM | 0 recs
From what I get out of this Lemos, is that the Democratic party in Nov will live and die with the Tea Party.

My belief is that the Tea Party is the Democrats' greatest asset. My only reservation to this thought is that George Bush got elected president in spite of his well publicized stupidity and ignorance.

Is there room for a president Sarah Palin? Well, no. But it would seem that the eligible Republican candidates don't mind supporting her views. So what we have here is Palin stupidity cloaked in legitimacy of candidates like DeMint.

by MainStreet 2010-08-20 11:04AM | 0 recs
Bingo on your second point

Bingo on your second point. My view is that the most dangerous guy running this cycle is Marco Rubio. We know Sharron Angle is crazy, we can tell Rand Paul is off his rocker, but Marco Rubio who shares the majority of Angle's and Paul's views is much more polished. Rubio isn't a Christian Reconstructionist nor is he a hard core libertarian but he has ties to neoconservatives like Jeb Bush (his mentor), William Kristol (a huge fan) and Elliot Abrams (it's a Cuba thing). And then he straddles DeMint's worldview. He's articulate, less belligerent on immigration, after all he's Hispanic but conservatives already see him as the next Ronald Reagan. There's no denying that he's charismatic and handsome and unlike Palin he can speak in complete sentences.

If Rubio wins in Florida, Rubio becomes a Presidential contender overnight. 2012 may be too soon but 2016 or 2020 most definitely. 

I think the Tea Party Movement is really just the latest manifestation of a deep undercurrent in the American psyche, an inherent mistrust of the Federal government. It's a battle that has been with us since even before the founding of the Republic. We had Federalists versus anti=Federalists, Jeffersonians versus Hamiltonians. Hamilton largely won but the Jeffersonian faction has never ever really faded. In the late 19th century, economic laissez-faire held sway but classical liberalism lead to a series of economic panics  1819-1824, 1837-1839, 1853-1857, 1873-1878, 1893-1896, 1907-1909 and 1929. We adjusted our views with heavy doses of government intervention in the economy and strict regulation of business with the New Deal but many elements within the GOP for various reasons have been trying to kill the New Deal ever since and they have succeeded on various fronts in the post 1980 world and now of course we have started to see more frequent and more severe economic hiccups. We'll always have recessions, downturns in the business cycles, but these prolonged downturns with high unemployment and deepening inequality is something we haven't seen in over 80 years. 

If you want to see the ideal conservative state, it's Haiti. More millionaires per capita than any other country in the New World but also the most unequal. There are more private security guards in Haiti than policemen, 85 percent of Haitian school children who attend school attend private schools. There is ONE public hospital, the rest are private clinics. All infrastructure is built by private firms. There are no departments of public works. Getting a govt contract is dependent on who you know and kickbacks. Entire sectors of the economy are controlled by monopolies. Tariffs are among the lowest in the world. Same with taxes. Gated communities for the wealthy and slums for everyone else. 

The problem with Haiti's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) wasn't that they were state-owned, it was that they were ransacked by private interests. Corruption was the problem. Post-Duvalier, Haiti Telecom was a pretty well run company but again the neo-liberal agenda forced a privatization and now telecommunications in Haiti is owned by outside interests allied with local families. Everything is a monopoly or oligopoly. And while import tariffs are low, export tariffs are high because that helps to keep competition out. Again certain families get exceptions because they control the political process.

Haiti's port is among the most expensive in the world for consumers and haulers. Although it falls under the auspices of the National Port Authority, a cadre of shipping agents and terminal owners operate everything from the cranes to the warehouses. It's the classic definition of economic predation. The misuse of the state for private gain.

Free trade policies destroyed Haiti's rice sector. Clinton forced a lowering of tariffs from 35% to 3% (in return for an IMF assistance package) and boom half of Haitian farmers lost their livelihood leading to a concentration of land tenure. Haiti went from self-sufficient in food in 1994 to being aid dependent in six years.

NGOs are seen by many critics as just another part of the neo-liberal agenda to emasculate the state. These organizations perform tasks that the state should be providing but instead these are nothing more than private charities. They are band-aids for a patient that has cancer. The Economist estimates that the number of international non-governmental organizations rose from 6,000 in 1990 to 26,000 in 1996. India and the US now have over a million non-profits each. Not to deny that these do good important work but the well paying jobs in NGOs are for Westerners or elites. They serve a purpose but they also fulfill gaps that the state should be providing but can't provide because the state has no tax base. It's why Bush pushed private charities. 

Lotteries here in the US are another tax transfer scheme. By using lotteries to finance education in the US, the rich can avoid paying taxes and the poor being the ones who buy lottery tickets end up financing schools for the wealthy. It's all rather ingenious.

Though we will never be as poor as Haitians, we are headed for deepening inequality. Haiti is our future if the conservative agenda gets enacted. What's worse is that we will go bankrupt because we are addicted to an Empire we can't afford. But that doesn't seem to bother them. Ending social security and gutting medicare, however, is a must and to some a moral obligation because they see it as impinging on their freedom. But the "it's your money" meme has been very successful is getting the middle income groups in the US to buy into an agenda that really only benefits the top 1 percent of Americans.

 

 

by Charles Lemos 2010-08-20 12:50PM | 0 recs
RE: Bingo on your second point

Charles, this is a book you need to write. I learned a lot from just this incidental post. It needs to be fleshed out and turned into literature so that others can appreciate what's going on here in the US as well as in places like Hiati. Understanding how the "have-mores" operate is just as important as understanding that they are there, living off the inequalities that have arisen with Reagan, perpetuated by Clinton, sadly, and now perhaps, continued by Obama. Hiati is such a basket case that without charity, it just might cease to exist.

 

by MainStreet 2010-08-20 03:51PM | 0 recs
Nitpicky

But am I getting you right that you think Palin-endorsed Kelly Ayotte is going down in her NH-Sen primary?  I haven't heard anything to suggest that, but it would be a big deal if it happens!

by bruorton 2010-08-20 02:46PM | 0 recs
RE: Nitpicky

I haven't seen any polling but an AP story earlier this week pointed that the Kelly Ayotte campaign wasn't going well and that the endorsement had been rotundly criticized in the NH press. I'll see if I can find the AP story again for you. 

by Charles Lemos 2010-08-20 03:17PM | 0 recs

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