DeMint backs Tea Party candidates in Delaware and New Hampshire
The dam is breaking.
Insurgent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina on Friday night gave a stamp of approval to yet another Tea Party candidate, Republican Ovide Lamontagne of New Hampshire.
DeMint, who endorsed Lamontagne on Twitter, said in a statement: “Ovide Lamontagne has proven he will fight against President Obama’s big government agenda and push for common sense solutions to reduce spending and debt.”
There were rumblings earlier this week that GOP frontrunner Kelly Ayotte, the state’s attorney general who has been endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, might have some trouble with Lamontagne in a race that has been overshadowed by the Senate Republican primary in Delaware.
In Delaware, the establishment GOP candidate, former Rep. Mike Castle, is facing a tough challenge from Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party’s favored candidate.
DeMint – who has already bucked his party in this election cycle – endorsed O’Donnell as well Friday night, but his backing of Lamontagne is more significant because it does two things. It puts a brighter spotlight on the race and will no doubt help the challenger in earned media and name recognition, and it’s evidence that Demint’s political operation believes Lamontagne has a good enough shot to win that it was worth the risk of expending some political capital.
“Ovide’s campaign is surging,” DeMint said.
A DeMint spokesman said that a month ago, Lamontagne was polling only at five percent, but has in just a few weeks jumped to 24 points and is within 10 points of Ayotte.
“There’s no question Ovide is an underdog but he has a chance to win and he’s exactly the kind of candidate Sen. DeMint is trying to help,” said DeMint spokesman Matt Hoskins. “Ovide is the real deal. He’s the only one in the race who will consistently support conservative principles.”
The GOP establishment in Washington has already seen its favored candidates go down in Senate primaries in Kentucky, Nevada, Utah, and Alaska. Losses by Castle and Ayotte would not only be further evidence of a major rift within the party, but it would also take two Republican candidates off the map in states where both have consistently polled way ahead of the Democratic candidates.
In such a scenario, a GOP takeover of the Senate would at this point in time have to be considered a far bigger challenge than it already is.