Who will replace Jim DeMint as conservative kingmaker?

While he is technically the Palmetto State’s junior Senator, Jim DeMint has far more importance within the Senate than many others who have been serving in the chamber for decades. As a result, his abrupt resignation yesterday to serve as President of the Heritage Foundation will have major ramifications as to who heads the conservative movement on Capitol Hill over the next few years.

DeMint’s success over the past eight years is largely the result of his work with his former leadership PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, to purify the Republican Party in the the U.S. Senate and bring it back to its core principles of “limited government, strong national defense, and traditional family values.” (DeMint left the PAC earlier this year to launch a spin-off super PAC, Senate Conservatives Action.) According to OpenSecrets.org, nearly $23 million has been raised and spent by the Senate Conservatives Fund on behalf of conservative candidates nationwide.

His impact on making the Republican wing of the Senate was summarized best by RedState founder and editor Erick Erickson, who commented that, “DeMint showed the Republican Party can be challenged from within the party moving it right, not moving with it.”

So it makes sense that many of DeMint’s possible successors in the chamber are in office today as a result of the PAC’s efforts over the past four years.

Among the high profile successors that could take up DeMint’s role as kingmaker is Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio rise to stardom began at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference, where he was the keynote speaker. Just a few months later he was able to push then-incumbent Governor Charlie Crist out of the Republican primary and win the Senate seat with 48% of the vote in a three-way race. The Senate Conservatives Fund spent $160K on Rubio’s race.

Rubio released a video statement Thursday in which he commented that DeMint was “the first person in Washington that believed in me and invested in me.” He also called DeMint his best friend in a recent interview with GQ.

Another, yet not as high profile, possible replacement is Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. A former Congressman and head of the Club for Growth, Toomey began his bid for Senate in 2009 against then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter (setting up a rematch of their 2004 nail biting primary). Pressure from the right, including from the Senate Conservatives Fund, forced Specter to switch party affiliations. He was ultimately defeated in the 2010 Democratic primary, and Toomey went on to win the general election. Last April Toomey was named Chair of the Senate Steering Committee, succeeding DeMint in the post.

Toomey tweeted yesterday that DeMint’s “departure will be a huge loss for [the] U.S. Senate & conservative movement.”

Two other possibilities include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, both of whom are members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus alongside DeMint.

Paul tweeted yesterday that DeMint would be “missed” in the Senate.

 

Of course, it could be a combination of them – or none of them at all. But the mantle is now open, and it will be interesting to see who takes the helm.

 

Comments

Comments

  1. Fred says:

    I am afraid that the Senate won’t be able to replace Senator DeMint. It has been a long time since we had a fighter in the Senate.

Polititainment

Sony cancels 'The Interview'

NEW YORK (AP) — Under the threat of terrorist attacks from hackers and with the nation's largest multiplex chains pulling the film from their screens, Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy "The Interview."

'The Interview' to drop in North Korea

Human rights groups are set to drop DVDs of "The Interview" into North Korea via hydrogen balloons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Democrats fundraising off of Colbert

First came the birthday cards, then came the desperate pleas for help, now comes "The Colbert Report."

Sony hack just got a lot scarier

The group allegedly behind the cyberattacks -- which identifies itself as "Guardians of Peace" -- suggested that it will organize terror attacks at movie theaters when the film "The Interview" premiers.

Obamas talk racism with People magazine

People magazine conducted an interview with Barack and Michelle Obama during which the first couple discussed their experience with racism in America.

White House

District court declares Obama’s executive action on immigration unconstitutional
A federal court in Pennsylvania declared parts of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration unconstitutional Tuesday. Judge Arthur J. Schwab, sitting in the western district of Pennsylvania, said presidents do have the power to use discretion in deciding how to enforce laws, but found that Obama’s recent executive action went much further than that.  He said Obama was writing […]
Obama administration extends Pell grants to juvenile offenders
The Obama administration has set out new guidelines that allow for students sentenced to juvenile correctional facilities to be eligible for federal Pell grants. The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice sent out a joint release Monday that clarified an earlier law. Congress in 1994 prohibited inmates at federal and state prisons from receiving Pell Grants […]
White House denies report that it wants to delay release of CIA torture report

The White House is insisting it wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to release its report on CIA torture practices, despite a report that Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to scuttle it.

Kate visits NYC kids; Prince William joins Obama

NEW YORK (AP) — Prince William's wife, Kate, wrapped Christmas gifts, helped preschoolers decorate picture frames and left an impression of a down-to-earth royal as she toured a child development center Monday with New York City's first lady.

The surprising opponents and backers of Obama’s net neutrality plan

Ted Cruz vs. Justice Scalia, and Obama vs. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP: The fight in Washington over "net neutrality” and has drawn up some strange battle lines.

Congress

Retiring DemHenry Waxman's farewell ode to govt

You'd think that, 40 years in, a congressman might grow cynical about the prospects of government meddling. Not retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)!

Senate Confirms Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General
NATIONAL JOURNAL — The Senate narrowly confirmed a new surgeon general whose nomination was delayed for months in a fight over his comments alleging that guns are a public health issue. The confirmation represents a victory for gun-control advocates, even as recent polling has shown Americans moving in the other direction toward gun-rights protections. The […]
Congress gave DOD $3 billion in extra funds

Christmas came early for the Pentagon (and Lockheed Martin.)

Rand Paul's bill to repeal Obama's exec order

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has filed a bill to overturn President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Congress sends Obama $1.1 T spending bill

Congress cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill for President Barack Obama's signature late Saturday night after a day of Senate intrigue capped by a failed, largely symbolic Republican challenge to the administration's new immigration policy.