Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is receiving criticism for getting involved in the 2012 GOP Senate primaries after promising fellow Republicans he wouldn’t try to play kingmaker this year the way he did in 2010.
Republicans on Capitol Hill were angry with DeMint after his PAC donated $500,000 to the Club for Growth, a conservative group that helped Indiana State Treasurer Richard Murdock defeat moderate Senator Dick Lugar,who had served in the US Senate for almost four decades.
DeMint denies that he intended for his donation to go toward beating Lugar, however.
“Not in any way, I wouldn’t do anything to hurt Lugar in his race,” he told POLITICO. “My whole goal is to win the majority, and the candidates I’m supporting are all polling ahead against their Democrat opponents.”
Club for Growth is also working against sitting Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who now faces a competitive primary after failing to secure enough votes at a state convention last month to win the GOP nomination outright.
“I have difficulty with any group or Republican group that claims to be a Republican group for going after Republicans when you have clear targets of big spending on the other side,” Hatch told POLITICO.
In Nebraska’s Senate primary, DeMint chose Don Stenberg over Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. DeMint spent $1.4 million of the Senate Conservatives Fund money on that race.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) accused DeMint of doing more harm than good in the race because the result of his seven figure spend was that neither Bruning nor Stenberg one, rather a third candidate – Debbie Fischer – came out the victor. Johanns said DeMint made a “poor choice.”
DeMint responded to Johann’s negative comments, saying his team “accomplished our goal” by seeing Bruning defeated.
In 2010 DeMint backed Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, both of whom won their party’s nomination but were ultimately unsuccessful at winning their general elections.
DeMint had vowed to stay away from the 2012 Republican Parties primaries after his efforts in 2010 helped elect Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Flor.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), but so far, DeMint and his Tea Party allies have shown to be a full-fledged force. Likewise, DeMint claims he has done nothing wrong, as he has not directly targeted fellow incumbent GOP Senators this election cycle.