Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tea Party Kingmaker Becomes Power Unto Himself

On election night last year, South Carolina’s freshman senator, Jim DeMint, convened a conference call with 4,000 supporters to declare the next battle: conservatives had to rally behind Marco Rubio, a relative unknown who was trailing the establishment candidate in the Republican Senate primary in Florida. “His win is going to send shock waves through Washington,” Mr. DeMint proclaimed. A year later, Mr. Rubio is leading in Florida, having driven his primary opponent out of the Republican Party. Other DeMint-backed candidates in the House and the Senate have ridden the same anti-establishment wave from long shot to likely. And the boast that Mr. DeMint made on that call no longer seems so grandiose: “We can reshape the Republican Party.” Financing Tea Party candidates and rallying the Tea Party faithful, Mr. DeMint has established himself as an alternate power center in Washington. And his rapid ascent has spawned a parlor game: what does Jim DeMint want?...more

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