Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) “is already building an aggressive campaign machine for the 2012 Senate elections, promising to push his party further to the right, despite angering many in the GOP establishment with his political activities last year,” POLITICO reports.
DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund wants to rake in a staggering $15 million, which is nearly $6 million more than in 2010 when his political action committee raised more money than any other politician’s PAC.
DeMint is now renting a Capitol Hill townhouse for his political operation — just a few blocks from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the official campaign arm for Senate Republicans. And unlike the NRSC, which plans to stay out of contested primaries, DeMint is prepared to be an active force, jumping into intraparty battles by pushing conservative candidates against moderate Republicans.
The buildup is the latest sign that DeMint has become the pre-eminent conservative political activist in the Senate, and he plans to push candidates whose ideological views align with his and the tea party movement’s — even if it sets up a major clash with the NRSC, which always looks for the most electable prospect.
This election cycle, DeMint “has taken a more hands-on role in the operation, hiring staff, making phone calls for donations, holding fundraisers and meeting with scores of prospective candidates at the Capitol Hill base for his political operations.”
Can there be peace with the NRSC?
“I don’t expect to be on different pages like we were last time,” DeMint said of the NRSC. “I think they’re going to be much more careful about the candidates they select, and we will too.”
Cornyn said he’s had “extensive discussions” to “try as much as possible to eliminate any conflicts.” For instance, Cornyn said, when candidates come to the Hill to meet with DeMint, they should also meet with a “multitude of senators,” so “everyone kind of gets to know them better.”
In a peace offering “to the seven GOP incumbents who are still seeking reelection, DeMint has vowed not to back any primary challenger against them — even in the case of Maine’s moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe.”