Jim DeMint…… President or Kingmaker?

Jim DeMint headshot

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint

Bookmark and Share   Jim DeMint is up for his first reelection bid this November, but his race is hardly a serious one. Not that Jim DeMint isn’t taking it seriously, he certainly is. But due to Jim’s popularity in South Carolina, Democrats never took this race seriously. That is why when a destitute man who was brought up on charges related to pornography ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate against deMint, he won. So now a virtual unknown and by all indications, unqualified individual is in a race against DeMint that is hardly a contest of wits, no less than a race of ideas.

But the fact that Alvin Greene, the Democrat in this race, got the chance to challenge DeMint is testimony to the solid support that DeMint has received from his fellow Palmetto State voters. In his first term in office, Jim DeMint has proven himself to be a solid conservative leader. He is a movement conservative who is never missing from any battle that involves social and fiscal conservativism. His solid record is in perfect sync with the majority of South Carolinians. So much so that that Democrats never even tried to unseat him and instead allowed their nomination to fall into the hands of the  mentally challenged Alvin Greene.

Still no one can take an election for granted like Democrats did before they found out who their nominee was. So Jim is campaigning hard. But with the luxury of what is currently a 42 percent lead over Alvin Greene, Jim DeMint is sharing his clout among other conservatives. His Senate Conservatives Fund raised $4 million in the current election cycle, an amount greater than any other Senate leadership political action committee.

Some of that money has been used by DeMint in shaping the current class of conservative candidates that are running in November’s elections. More so than any other Senator, Jim has gone out on a few limbs and endorsed underdogs who were not the establishment’s choices. In most cases he supported TEA Party candidates and those whom he felt best represented conservative values as opposed to Party line allegiances.

He endorsed and donated over $58,000 to the candidacy of Washington state’s Dino Rossi who recently became incumbent Democrat Patty Murray‘s senate opponent.

14 months ago Jiom DeMint was one of the first Republicans to publicly endorse the young anti-establishment,  former Florida Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio, against the incumbent Republican Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist. Crist was the hands on favorite for the US Senate nomination and the establishment’s choice for the nomination. But when the young, conservative Marco Rubio took to the stage, DeMint threw his weight behind the better candidate instead of the establishment candidate, a man who has since turned his back on those republicans who supported and is now running against the GOP

Some of the largest donations DeMint has made have gone to; Marco Rubio, $421,000, Tea Party backed candidate for the US Republican Senate nomination, Ken Buck of Colorado, $375,000, $312,000 to former Nevada state legislator and Tea Party backed Sharron Angle, and $217,000 to Salt Lake City lawyer and Tea Party backed Senate candidate Mike Lee. All were underdogs in their respective races for their state’s Republican senate nominations, and all won. Other DeMint backed winners include Republican Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Rand Paul in Kentucky.

The Rand Paul endorsement came after DeMint’s boss in the senate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out and endorsed Paul’s opponent.  Being that Kentucky is the state that McConnell represents, his making a choice between Paul and his opponent Trey Grayson was not unusual. But DeMint’s endorsement of Paul, a day after McConnell’s endorsement of Grayson, was seen as a slap in Mitch McConnell’s face. But that did not stop DeMint from intervening in the Kentucky race and providing the kind of financial and public support that made Rand Paul the eventual nominee over McConnell’s choice for the job.

After defying McConnell the privilege of his preferred nominee in his own sate, many believe that Jim DeMint is preparing for a challenge to McConnell’s leadership role in the Senate. The idea is not unrealistic. McConnell has been a weak leader. While he has managed to keep Republicans from wandering off the reservation and remain in lockstep opposition to the Obama/Pelosi/reid regime’s agenda, McConnell has failed to offer bold alternatives that would allow Senate Republicans to run for cover from the charge of being obstructionists and the Party of “no” with no ideas. 

DeMint however campaigns against the Democrat leadership by taking a hard-line that claims the liberals leading the Democrat Party are taking us down a road to socialism.   But he also offers alternative solutions. Between that and his ability to sure up the conservative base, DeMint could give McConnell a run for his money in a leadership challenge. This is especially the case if many of those whom DeMint endorsed become freshmen senators in January of 2011. And if enough of them get elected to allow Republicans to take back control of the senate, you can more than likely count on many of those new faces to support DeMint for Senate Majority Leader.

Of course DeMint could forego a leadership battle and parlay the support of his newfound senate friends into support for a presidential bid.

That will be a tougher goal to achieve though.

DeMint is just right for the majority of the electorate in South Carolina and the  Southen U.S., but his conservative credentials might be too hard for many in the rest of the nation to swallow. The left will have a field day with his hard-line record. Still he could make quite a difference in the race for for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidency itself.

If DeMint ran in the GOP primaries, South Carolina would, for the most part be out of play. This would diminish the chances of Republican like Romney, Barbour, Palin and Gingrich, to begin to lock up the South in the South Carolina primary that is normally a precursor to primaries in Florida and then the influx of the rest of the Southern states on Super Tuesday.

Outside of the South though, DeMint may not be able to play as well as well as a candidate like Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, but he can leave a candidate like Barbour tattered as he enters contests against someone like Romney in the Northeast and Midwest.

DeMint’s greatest chance for success in the Republican presidential process could come in helping to choose who the next President is.

If DeMint comes out and endorses a candidate such as Romney, that endorsement could go a long way to help him do far better than he did in the South last time and it could make the difference between winning and losing the South Carolina primary.

No matter what though, Jim DeMint has positioned himself as one of the most influential Senators in the game of electoral politics that there is these days. His ability to raise money and sway conservatives makes him a very real contender for the GOP presidential nomination and without a doubt a kingmaker in waiting.

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