DeMint's Conservative Earthquake and its Indiana Aftershocks - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
DeMint’s Conservative Earthquake and its Indiana Aftershocks

Marc Thiessen has an interesting column in the Washington Post arguing that far from purifying the GOP at the expense of electoral viability, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has been backing conservative challengers to the Republican establishment who can actually beat the Democrats in the fall if they win their primaries. DeMint’s two biggest successes so far are Marco Rubio (whom he endorsed when Charlie Crist still looked like a shoo-in) and Pat Toomey. Rubio and Toomey both became so dominant that their primary opponents decided their only chance was to leave the party.

I was especialy interested in what Thiessen and DeMint had to say about the Kentucky GOP primary. There have been persistent rumors that DeMint was on the verge of endorsing Rand Paul but it hasn’t happened. It seems DeMint doesn’t want to hurt his working relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing the other major candidate, especially since Paul is leading anyway. Even so, DeMint didn’t exactly rule it out. “I want to avoid poking my finger in the leader’s eye, but I’m not going to let it get unfair,” he told Thiessen.

That’s what makes today’s Republican primary in Indiana interesting. DeMint has endorsed state Sen. Marlin Stutzman and has helped him raise over $220,000 in a matter of days. If Stutzman wins, DeMint is going to look like a genius — nobody in Washington and relatively few people in Indiana gave him any chance. Even DeMint seems uncertain, saying, “I’m not sure if I got in soon enough.”

But what if the conventional wisdom pans out and former Sen. Dan Coats wins, former Rep. John Hostettler finishes second, and Stutzman runs third? People are going to ask whether DeMint helped a conservative candidate of the future (Stutzman) at the expense of a conservative who could have won the primary today (Hostettler). If Hostettler wins or Stutzman finishes second, there will be less room to quibble.

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