DeMint himself told Politico not three hours ago that he won’t support primary challenges against incumbents, a position he’s held for months, so presumably this is just a shot across the bow from someone on his team trying to keep centrist Republicans in check.
But since I know roughly 98 percent of the HA faithful feel about this deal the way they’d feel chewing on broken glass, here’s a little something to brighten your evening. RINO Purge 2012?
DeMint had promised after last year’s election that he would not endorse any opponents to his fellow GOP lawmakers in the 2012 cycle. But now he is angry enough with the debt-ceiling compromise that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) struck with President Obama that he might back serious challengers to Republican senators who support the plan, according to a source close to the senator.
“He’s already opened the door to changing that policy in terms of supporting people in primaries — this deal could bring him to the point where he says he’s not going to make any guarantees,” said the source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of intraparty relations. “It’s not a threat that he’s going to oppose anybody, but … if he does, nobody should be surprised.”
There are eight Republican senators running for reelection next year, among them Dick Lugar, Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, Bob Corker, and Orrin Hatch. The first three are all voting yes tomorrow; we’ll see about the latter two. Of the five of them, Hatch is obviously the easiest/least risky to primary given that the Republican nominee will surely win the seat while Brown, of course, is the most risky. If DeMint’s going to make a mark it would be by boosting challengers to the other three. Presumably he’ll focus only on Senate races, too, although watching his PAC go after Allen West and Paul Ryan for their heresy on the debt-ceiling vote would be pure blog magic. Exit question: Will the reaction to Jim Jordan in last week’s House caucus meeting affect DeMint’s calculus on this? Republicans were afraid to confront tea-party heroes last year during the big red wave, but after Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell lost, there may be less patience this time for primaries that risk fumbling a seat away to the Democrats. Especially since Democrats have a lot more to lose next year than we do.