Jim DeMint to GOP incumbents: I will not primary you

posted at 8:07 pm on December 2, 2010 by Allahpundit

He’s not saying he’ll support them, mind you, just that he won’t oppose them. Or at least, not publicly. Alternate headline: “DeMint’s opposition to GOP incumbents to be behind-the-scenes only”?

Actually, we already knew that he was leaning this way, but now he’s gone and made it official.

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint is privately reassuring his Republican colleagues up for reelection that he won’t recruit or endorse any primary opponent against them, vowing to raise more than $10 million aimed mainly at taking down Democratic incumbents.

In a letter obtained by POLITICO, the tea party favorite appears to be taking steps to soothe post-election tensions with his GOP colleagues, including some who say his political tactics have been counterproductive…

“First, despite rumors to the contrary, I want to assure you that I will not recruit or support primary challengers to incumbent Republicans, and you can also be assured I will support all of our Republican nominees for the Senate,” he wrote in the letter he sent Wednesday. “My goal for 2012 is to raise more than $10 million through the Senate Conservatives Fund to replace incumbent Democrats with conservative Republicans.”…

In an interview last month with POLITICO, DeMint said his “plan right now is to support all our incumbents” in 2012. But in Wednesday’s letter, DeMint stops short of saying he’ll support all GOP incumbents. And in a follow-up interview Thursday, he said he’s not promising support for GOP senators in primaries – only that he’ll stay out of the primaries altogether.

The Democrats at the top of his list are Tester, Conrad, Ben Nelson, and Joe Manchin. I’m mighty curious to see how he’d react if either of those last two switched to the GOP before the 2012 campaign started gearing up. Anyway, a serious question: Why would DeMint agree to support the GOP nominee in all cases? The crux of the “true conservative”/RINO debate before the Delaware primary was whether he was right when he famously said we’re better off with a Senate caucus of 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters. Better that Chris Coons win the seat than Mike Castle, in other words, because Castle won’t stand for conservative principles on every occasion and that’ll end up damaging the Republican brand. If conservative principle means we have to suffer in the minority for one term or two terms or 20 terms, so be it; eventually the public will tire of liberal government and will embrace the conservative Republican alternative. That was the argument from O’Donnell supporters, in any event.

Does that logic … no longer apply? Better to have 60 Olympia Snowes in the Senate than a 70/30 Democratic majority? That must be the new rule, because as our Greenroom contributor Karl pointed out to me recently, that letter from DeMint fans threatening Republicans who criticize him makes no sense otherwise. Their big complaint was that people were blaming DeMint for having ruined the GOP’s chances at a Senate majority. But, per DeMint’s own “better 30 Rubios than 60 Specters” logic, the majority is worth sacrificing. Better to lose with Ken Buck and Christine O’Donnell than win with Jane Norton and Castle — that’s the DeMint philosophy in a nutshell, at least until recently. Why are his supporters angry at people for suggesting that he’s willing to sacrifice GOP seats in the name of principle when he’s all but said that before himself?

If you read the whole Politico piece linked up top, you’ll see that he’s also vowing that this will be his last Senate term. I wonder if he’s planning to retire or to pursue … another office. Exit question: Is his new “no incumbent challenges” rule an early sign of the tea party going mainstream? Hmmmmmm.


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He’s clearly a RINO.

amerpundit on December 2, 2010 at 8:12 PM

I don’t agree with Demint here. Seems he is simply giving in to the establishment to avoid fighting.

unseen on December 2, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Better that Chris Coons win the seat than Mike Castle, in other words, because Castle won’t stand for conservative principles on every occasion and that’ll end up damaging the countryRepublican brand.

FIFY, AP.

This babbling about a “Republican brand” is meaningless BS.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:17 PM

This babbling about a “Republican brand” is meaningless BS.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:17 PM

No it isn’t. A lot of low information voters believed the 2008 BS from the Democrats when they said they stood for fiscal responsibility. When the Republicans were spending like drunken sailors, it was hard to refute. We need the GOP to send a clear message.

pedestrian on December 2, 2010 at 8:20 PM

“Whew! I can go back to being a squishy dooooosh!”

-Lindsey Graham

innominatus on December 2, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Progress. That’s the difference.

DeMint picked four states where the electorate is likely to nominate and elect the type of conservative he prefers.

He’s just focusing his resources more carefully.

But I do find it kind of funny. The RINO DeMint. Where are all teh “real” conservatives going to look now?

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Why are his supporters angry at people for suggesting that he’s willing to sacrifice GOP seats in the name of principle when he’s all but said that before himself?

Funny, DeMint didn’t even make the list.

Kini on December 2, 2010 at 8:24 PM

including some who say his political tactics have been counterproductive…

Say what? Electing true conservatives to the Senate is counterproductive?
Well damn, have I ever been misled!

Sooo, our real conservative leader is, who again?

donh525 on December 2, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Umm. “nominee” implies that one has passed the primary gauntlet. In which case he will support the gop primary winner. If it so happens that the teaparty costs an incumbent, he’s free to support the teaparty victor. Pretty simple. Just as corning had no business supporting crist or scuzzyfava before the primaries had kicked off — weeell, dede was actually anointed by a committee. But you get the drift.

AH_C on December 2, 2010 at 8:26 PM

I have to pee and go to bed. I don’t know what CAIR can do about thiss.

OmahaConservative on December 2, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Say what? Electing true conservatives to the Senate is counterproductive?

Chris Coons, Harry Reid and Michael Bennett are “true” conservatives. That’s news to me.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Exit question: Is his new “no incumbent challenges” rule an early sign of the tea party going mainstream? Hmmmmmm

Wow! I thought for sure the “Tea Party wants earmarks” story would get its own post. And here you’ve slapped it on the tail end of DeMint story, riding on an exit question. I feel like I don’t even know you anymore, AP. I feel… distance. (sniff)

Weight of Glory on December 2, 2010 at 8:29 PM

Me. Corning = Cornyn

AH_C on December 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Ever notice that the people who care about protecting “the brand” never live in the states they want to flush down the toilet.

“If you don’t nominate the type of conservative we want, your whole state must go to hell in order to enhance the party image”

… says an amateur internet activist who lives one thousand miles away and has no vested interest in the state.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM

We need the GOP to send a clear message.

pedestrian on December 2, 2010 at 8:20 PM

I think the 2010 elections changed quite a bit thanks to the Tea Party, but there are still some out there who wonder what the GOP stands for as a party, including myself, a life-long Republican.
That being said, the GOP isn’t a “brand.”
It’s a political party founded by Lincoln that is supposed to embrace certain values, ideals and goals for our country for purposes of electing like-minded citizens to govern.
This puts it in another category than Coke vs. Pepsi.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:32 PM

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM

The very same thing can be said about the other side of the argument as well.

Weight of Glory on December 2, 2010 at 8:33 PM

I have to pee and go to bed. I don’t know what CAIR can do about thiss.

OmahaConservative on December 2, 2010 at 8:27 PM

For the second time today, I implore you to stop sharing about your bodily functions on HA.
It is gross and rude.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:33 PM

I’d rather see Richard Lugar voted out of office in 2012 than any of the Democrats DeMint wants to oppose.

bw222 on December 2, 2010 at 8:35 PM

Like the Tea Party or Conservatives need Jim Demints’ endorsement, lol. He can keep his hands clean while we primary their sorry butts out of office. They need to be
kept honest or they will fall back into old patterns.

Africanus on December 2, 2010 at 8:35 PM

From the Politico article cited above:

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint is privately reassuring his Republican colleagues up for reelection that he won’t recruit or endorse any primary opponent against them, vowing to raise more than $10 million aimed mainly at taking down Democratic incumbents.

In a letter obtained by POLITICO, the tea party favorite appears to be taking steps to soothe post-election tensions with his GOP colleagues, including some who say his political tactics have been counterproductive.

You think Politico is BFF’s with Wikileaks Assange?

This is akin to spying and espionage and I’m not even sure it’s true.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:38 PM

Tester but NOT target Baucus? Tester voted NO on TARP.

Baucus on the other hand is why there is Obamascare.

Maybe it’s time for the GOP to consider running someone strong against Baucus – Montanans can’t be happy with his glib behavior.

http://article.wn.com/view/2010/08/24/Sebelius_Baucus_rebuked_in_Mont_over_health_care/

Just last week he was on the floor of the senate trying to get segment of the health care bill repealed. One of his constituents asked him if he read the bill…he replied that’s what I have staff for why would you want me wasting my time reading the bill.

Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus formally introduced legislation today to repeal new requirements for businesses to report payments for goods and services by filling additional 1099 forms with the IRS. Baucus announced plans to repeal the reporting requirements Friday during a meeting with Montana business leaders in Missoula in response to concerns the requirements would place too large of a paperwork burden on small businesses.

Both the Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business expressed support for Baucus’ bill.

Dr Evil on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Weight of Glory on December 2, 2010 at 8:33 PM

I honestly can’t think of a single example of a Blue State conservatives organizing, funding and influencing primary elections in Red States.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Hopefully the tea party has sufficient momentum at this point to embolden primary challengers to run on their own.

FloatingRock on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Chris Coons, Harry Reid and Michael Bennett are “true” conservatives. That’s news to me.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Oh sorry, I forgot the convoluted thinking of some, who consider supporting conservatives who lose, is actually supporting liberals who win.
Actually liberal voters elect liberal candidates, it happens sometimes, but lets blame Jim and his supporters for supporting true conservatives.
But rest assured, you’re argument isn’t news to me or original.
Just tiresome.

donh525 on December 2, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Dr Evil on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM

I dont think Baucus is up in 2012.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:42 PM

I honestly can’t think of a single example of a Blue State conservatives organizing, funding and influencing primary elections in Red States.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Not even Rubio in Florida?

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:43 PM

There was no TP figurehead in 2010 and there won’t be in 2012 either, the American people are making their own decisions.

I know I know, there is this special need to kick anyone who didn’t line up behind staunch conservative Mike Castle, but I suppose you have to soothe yourselves somehow.

Bishop on December 2, 2010 at 8:43 PM

No it isn’t. A lot of low information voters believed the 2008 BS from the Democrats when they said they stood for fiscal responsibility. When the Republicans were spending like drunken sailors, it was hard to refute. We need the GOP to send a clear message.

pedestrian on December 2, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Good points well stated. I especially like low information voters…

But remember, spending like drunken sailors, is unfair to both drunks and sailors, who, as Ronald Reagan reminded us, spent their own money!

massrighty on December 2, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Jim DeMint to GOP incumbents: I will not primary you

As a great, wise Admiral once said: It’s a trap.

Vyce on December 2, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Exit question: Is his new “no incumbent challenges” rule an early sign of the tea party going mainstream? Hmmmmmm.

This last election wasn’t the first volley by the Tea Party. That was Brown in Mass, and Christie in NJ, and McDonnell in Virginia. The movement is young but it’s starting to get it’s sea legs, by the next election expect it to be more savvy picking out candidates. Not to confuse savvy with compromise. The RNC had to get the message last time out – start running more conservatives from the ranks of the common people NOT just the establishment class. Start scouting now while they have the advantage of the last election fresh in everyone’s memory. More Rubios’ and Wests’.

Dr Evil on December 2, 2010 at 8:48 PM

If this story is to be believed (a big “if!”), what DeMint is saying is that there are about 30 Dem Senate seats needing to be picked off for the GOP and he’s going to focus on those.

Politico’s running this because after the Dems’ massive loss in November, they’re majorly worried about 2012.
And they should be.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:50 PM

Lame. Principle over party. A lot of these Republican Senators can get out as far as I’m concerned.

therightwinger on December 2, 2010 at 8:53 PM

I dont think Baucus is up in 2012.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Yeah he isn’t up for re election until 2014.

When will senator max baucus be up for re-election?
Was reelected in 2008, due again in 2014

Tester is moderate to conservative Democrat – he may end up being on the receiving end of Montanans unhappy with Baucus.

Dr Evil on December 2, 2010 at 8:54 PM

I honestly can’t think of a single example of a Blue State conservatives organizing, funding and influencing primary elections in Red States.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM

I was responding to this statement you wrote:

“If you don’t nominate the type of conservative we want, your whole state must go to hell in order to enhance the party image”

Weight of Glory on December 2, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Guys who need to be primaried:
Roger Wicker- had most earmarks of any congressman in 2007 (appointed to Lott’s seat at end of 2007)
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Richard Lugar
Orrin Hatch
John Ensign
Bob Corker

These are races where the GOP could replace RINOs with strong conservatives at zero risk of losing the seat. McCain won each of these states by at least 55%. The Republican caucus will be a lot more conservative if we replace redstate rinos with conservatives than if we try to replace scott brown and olympia snowe with conservatives and end up with moderate republicans in those red state seats and liberal democrats in both bluestate seats.

Raisedbywolves on December 2, 2010 at 9:07 PM

I honestly can’t think of a single example of a Blue State conservatives organizing, funding and influencing primary elections in Red States.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM
I was responding to this statement you wrote:

“If you don’t nominate the type of conservative we want, your whole state must go to hell in order to enhance the party image”

Weight of Glory on December 2, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Same thing. Many conservatives in Blue States support moderates because they are viable. But rarely, if ever, do they tell Red State Republicans who they should nominate and if they dont, its better to have a Democrat.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 9:07 PM

For the second time today, I implore you to stop sharing about your bodily functions on HA.
It is gross and rude.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:33 PM

ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS! Senses of humor at half price for the next 15 minutes.

katy the mean old lady on December 2, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Yeah, well. Who the hell died and made Jimmy Demint the Kingmaker?

Come up with the 10 mil first, then go ahead and run yer yap, bub.

Wind Rider on December 2, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Nah, he’s just gonna help Palin do it.

SilentWatcher on December 2, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Demint is a squishy Conservative…..like Pence and a bit like HuckleChuckle.

PappyD61 on December 2, 2010 at 11:58 PM

Same thing. Many conservatives in Blue States support moderates because they are viable. But rarely, if ever, do they tell Red State Republicans who they should nominate and if they dont, its better to have a Democrat.

swamp_yankee on December 2, 2010 at 9:07 PM

PPP Poll released 11/30 regarding the Presidential Primary.

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/11/30/ppp-poll-romney-voters-a-risk-to-switch-to-obama-if-he-loses-nomination/

I’m guessing this is the “rarely” and you can remove the “if ever” from your statement.

gekkobear on December 3, 2010 at 1:03 AM

gekkobear on December 3, 2010 at 1:03 AM

Umm, that’s a national race. Everyone is represented by the POTUS. Totally different scenario.

swamp_yankee on December 3, 2010 at 2:11 AM

He doesn’t have to go after them because the Tea Party will do it.

Done That on December 3, 2010 at 6:02 AM

Politico’s running this because after the Dems’ massive loss in November, they’re majorly worried about 2012.
And they should be.

Jenfidel on December 2, 2010 at 8:50 PM

Lucifer’s daughter has it right.

True_King on December 3, 2010 at 7:15 AM

DeMint will either see the light or face being primaried himself. What happens to Republicans when they get to congress?

erp on December 3, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Maybe it’s time for the GOP to consider running someone strong against Baucus – Montanans can’t be happy with his glib behavior.

Former Governor Marc Racicot?

Steve Z on December 3, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Guys who need to be primaried:
Roger Wicker- had most earmarks of any congressman in 2007 (appointed to Lott’s seat at end of 2007)
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Richard Lugar
Orrin Hatch
John Ensign
Bob Corker

These are races where the GOP could replace RINOs with strong conservatives at zero risk of losing the seat. McCain won each of these states by at least 55%. The Republican caucus will be a lot more conservative if we replace redstate rinos with conservatives than if we try to replace scott brown and olympia snowe with conservatives and end up with moderate republicans in those red state seats and liberal democrats in both bluestate seats.

Raisedbywolves on December 2, 2010 at 9:07 PM

Excellent point. What we need in the Senate are 40 Marco Rubios (in states where solid conservatives can win) and 20 Scott Browns (in states where only moderates can win).

Add to the list of RINOs that should be primaried Lindsay Graham–an embarrassment to the solidly conservative state of SC.

But Republican candidates need to be adapted to the states they hope to represent. Jim DeMint won by 30 points in SC, but would probably lose in Delaware, where Mike Castle COULD have won, and voted with conservatives half the time, instead of Coons voting with liberals ALL the time. Scott Brown is about the best we can get from Massachusetts, but he would probably lose a primary in ND or Utah. Republicans tried running hard-right conservatives in NY, who got shellacked, while a fiscal conservative/social liberal like Giuliani might have won.

What we need is to find the most conservative candidate WHO CAN WIN in each state. Let’s nominate solid conservatives in the South, Great Plains, and the Rockies–why let RINO wimps like Graham be elected there? For “purple” states like FL, NV, CO, OH, PA, we’ll need conservatives who can speak well and convince moderate voters (like Rubio, not Angle), and for blue states, a RINO like Castle or Snowe is better than a self-avowed Marxist like Coons. We need to face facts–some states (like DE, ME, MA, RI, NY, WA) just won’t elect strong conservatives, but “moderate” Republicans from such states can unite with conservatives from Red states to form a Senate majority, that can then govern a center-right nation.

Steve Z on December 3, 2010 at 12:20 PM