Will DeMint profit or suffer from O’Donnell victory?

The shocking victory of Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell in Delaware is fracturing the Republican Party establishment in Washington.

Many Party officials are livid because, as they see it, Republicans have likely lost what was an easy pickup of Joe Biden’s old Senate seat.

But the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s vow last night not to spend money to back O’Donnell is engendering its own backlash, as conservative activists slam the committee for its “petty” stand on the issue, as one source put it. (Under pressure, the NRSC just reversed course and promised to support O’Donnell).

Meanwhile, one man in Washington stands to benefit – or suffer – from O’Donnell’s victory perhaps more than any other: South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint.

To some, including many conservatives, DeMint is a hero for bucking the Party establishment to help kill off liberal Republican Rep. Mike Castle. They see DeMint as a principled conservative who acts with the courage of his convictions.

To others, including many longtime political operatives, DeMint is an arrogant self-promoter whose out-of-control antics are hurting Republicans more than they help.

But even if he is polarizing the Republican establishment, DeMint’s power is undoubtedly waxing. As many as ten Tea Party-affiliated or sympathetic candidates are poised to win in November, potentially tripling the ranks of conservatives in the Senate.

The dynamic has already created an awkward dynamic between DeMint and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently preemptively claimed he had the votes to keep his spot as leader. “If I were Mitch McConnell, I’d be looking over my shoulder at Jim DeMint,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala.

If O’Donnell loses, as polls indicate is likely, DeMint’s antagonists can claim vindication for their disgusted reactions today. As one GOP aide put it, “Jim DeMint fancies himself a king maker, so good for him, you just crowned a loser.”

But in the much less likely event O’Donnell wins, DeMint can claim victory not only over the NRSC, whose candidates he has opposed in repeated primaries, but O’Donell’s victory will justify his judgment in picking her in the first place.

And there will be one more strongly conservative member of the Senate, one who owes DeMint at least partial credit for her victory.

One caveat: DeMint’s endorsement, like others he has given to Tea Party candidates, came late in the game – limiting its effect on the race. Further, he is not particularly well known in Delaware. Those two factors limit the extent to which he is responsible for O’Donnell’s win.


Meanwhile, two of the Republican Party committees appear to be divided on the issue.

Last night, minutes after O’Donnell’s victory became apparent, the NRSC said it would not be sending financial help to O’Donnell, whose campaign war chest stands at a paltry $20,000.

In stark contrast, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is embracing O’Donnell, a potentially savvy move that could garner him support on the right.

“After a spirited primary, I want to congratulate Christine O’Donnell on winning the nomination,” said Steele in a statement. Steele has reached out to O’Donnell, an RNC spokesman said, but the two have not spoken. The RNC already has two “victory centers” in Delaware.

NEXT: House vs. Senate race implications

  • libertyatstake

    Well, since O’Donnell will be winning, I suspect DeMint will profit. Unless, of course Greene beats him. LMAO!

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • http://www.hired-mind.com/ hired.mind

    Castle was not a reliable conservative vote. If we win the seat, but he votes with the opposition, have we won the seat?

    I don’t think so, and will be sending money to O’Donnell.

  • Joe Astroturf

    Hey Jim when Bush lied to you on NCLB you found out what compassionate conservatives are like. That creep Rove is just like him. When we get enough conservatives in we can take these compassionates out of the history books. The minute Christine won everyone should have been behind her. Maybe the republicans are worried that we’re too much into our guns and religion. They know better for us yokels.

    • teapartypatriot64

      You’re last two sentences summed up why us “FISCAL” conservatives are starting to question our support. I don’t need your religion in my life.

      • RoadtoFREEDOM

        Why are you so worried that she is socially conservative? I’d rather have her than a raging socialist in there… even with the negative things I’ve read so far.

        It’s not like she’s gonna force you to read the bible or single handedly make her religion the law of the land.

        I’m a libertarian, I’m not even Christian technically, and I don’t care about that right now.

        We ‘fiscal conservatives’ are asking the social cons to join us in the fight and put their social concerns on hold so as to not ‘derail’ the election – and when one of the social cons gets the nomination, you come out and attack her for her religious views?

        Don’t be a fool. Why would social cons, who are a very active part of the base that gets out the vote, stick with the coalition if we can’t tolerate one of their candidates? Huh?

        Without the social cons, you have no chance of winning… and these views they hold are deeply held – and separation of Church and state prevents them from doing most of what you fear anyway.

        Quit your whining and support the team. No one is going to push a cross in your face. Get a grip.

        You seem to have no idea how destructive this infighting could get. THIS is how the Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory over and over.

        Don’t take your ball and go home because she’s not your, or my, ideal candidate. She is the candidate. Don’t make a self fulfilling prophecy here. She hasn’t lost until all the votes are counted.

  • teapartypatriot64

    I’m stunned that so many of you are supporting O’Donnell. Here’s a few jems from the last 24 hours – and this is who you want representing you?

    “I wanted to make this race about the issue: how we’re going to get back jobs in Delaware, how we’re going to defend the homeland of our security,” O’Donnell said.

    This morning, O’Donnell fought back at the accusations saying, “Everything that [Rove] is saying is unfactual.”

    • akw1

      The choice is between O’Donnell and Coons. In that race, I will absolutely support O’Donnell. One of them is going to be the next Senator from Delaware, and I want it to be a conservative, not a liberal Democrat.

      • des1

        Then allow me to offer my condolences in advance.

    • RoadtoFREEDOM

      IF I were hand picking a candidate, it would NOT be her. So what? I’m supporting her NOW because she IS the nominee.

      If you’re afraid of not winning the seat, what good does it do NOW to tear her down? What good?

      So she appears to be along shot… so what? The time for that fight was in the primary and the people of DE picked her.

      Rand Paul was a long shot too. Sharon Angle, too, is in a dead heat.

      Look, we have to unify. If we fail, we can cast blame and learn from any mistakes.

      But. Not. Now.

  • akw1

    “As one GOP aide put it, “Jim DeMint fancies himself a king maker, so good for him, you just crowned a loser.”

    If you can’t print the person’s name, DON’T PRINT THE TRASH THEY SPOUT! I don’t come here to read garbage from anonymous sources who have an agenda to peddle.

  • doncicciofitipaldi

    De Mint’s “condition” can oly be descibed as “paranoid with delusions of grandeur”. De Mints vs. McConnel. Let the Republican civil war begin and see which faction proves itself to be more extremist and crazy.

    • RoadtoFREEDOM

      Once again, I’ll ask that you wait till November 3rd to answer the question of how DeMint will feel about all this. If the Tea Party candidates win across the board, that’s different than if they lose, yes?

      This election is historic. No one knows exactly what will happen, and in a wave like this, even a flawed candidate could win. Long shots seem to becoming the new normal.

      You hate all republicans anyway, so what does it matter what your opinion is of DeMint anyway?

      All Democrats are scum, should be voted out without exception. Some Republicans get it and are with the people, some are big government Dem’lite losers, just as corrupt, just smarter about their talking points.

      The more Castle’s and Bennet’s and so forth that we ditch, the more quickly we can reform the GOP as the entrenched dinosaurs are the hardest to get rid of.

      If Christine loses. She’s gone. If she wins, and stinks, fine. Boot her next time.

      Either way, the Obama train is about to get derailed in the House at least… and in 2012 even MORE democrats will be defending their seats.

      Either way, Don Don, your team is in the crapper, so I’m not sure why you are so darn chipper about the goings on within the Republican party… oh wait, watching us tear each other apart is the only joy you have right now.

      That ought to be a lesson to the rest of us. If Don Don is happy, we’d better wake up.

  • FreedomRocket

    Screw you Karl Rove. We need a third party. By injecting enough tea party candidates into congress, we’ll drag along the republicans to caucus with us. Let the few remaining republicans park on the street and office in the basement. Rove, get over yourself.

  • flips

    DeMint: “It’s Alive!!”

    “Now I know how it feels to be God!”