Ethics rules aside, establishment Republicans are complaining that DeMint, Cruz, Lee, Heritage Action, and the Senate Conservatives Fund have led the party into a kamikaze mission to demand that President Obama unwind his signature domestic achievement. Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina has called it the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Others have complained that DeMint, Heritage, SCF, and the Club are too concerned about punishing wayward Republicans and not winning more seats from Democrats who control the Senate. They point to DeMint’s history of backing general-election losers in GOP primaries, including Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, who both fumbled away winning seats in 2010.

But DeMint, long a lonely ideological warrior, has never been one to listen to mainstream GOP or media critiques. The difference now is the House is steered by the right flank of the Republican Party and the Senate is populated with at least a vocal group of unbending Republicans in DeMint’s image – many of whom he helped elect.

“Pick any issue, pick any fight, and who are the people that are charging out into battle and leading the fight, they are the Rand Pauls, the Mike Lees, the Marco Rubios – the leaders who are there because of Jim DeMint’s support,” Cruz said in a South Carolina speech this spring honoring DeMint.