DeMint Neutral on Presidential Race, but "We'll Get in Lots of Senate Primaries"

New Orleans, LA—One of the leading conservative Republicans in the Senate, Jim DeMint, told HUMAN EVENTS on Friday that while he “was neutral in the presidential race so far,” he fully expected to be involved “in lots of Senate primaries” in 2012.

Sen. DeMint (R.-S.C.), whose Senate Conservative Fund (SCF) raised more than $9 million to support conservative Senate hopefuls last year, predicted that the fund would raise “a lot more for ’12” and would become involved on behalf of several conservative contenders for Senate seats.  As was the case in 2010, DeMint promised, his group would back candidates in contested primaries with more moderate hopefuls.

DeMint, who was attending the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here, said that it was likely his SCF would involve itself on behalf of candidates vying in primaries for the Senate in Ohio, Florida and Texas.  Ohio and Missouri are expected to be the sites of contested primaries to take on Democratic.  Senators Sherrod Brown and Bill Nelson respectively, while in Texas there will be a hotly contested and crowded GOP nomination battle for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

“You probably have a pretty good idea who we will be backing,” said the South Carolinian, who raised eyebrows among “establishment” Republicans last year for siding with such conservative outsiders as Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.  (“We were with him against Arlen Specter and then Specter went and became a Democrat on us!”)  All three are now in the Senate with DeMint.  But DeMint stressed that he and his people would be “talking to and listening to” conservative activists in all of the states where they anticipated involvement before any endorsements were made.

Although he comes from a state that will host one of the earliest (and historically significant) presidential primaries, DeMint stressed to us that he was neutral in the Republican nomination battle.  As he put it, “We’re urging folks to remain neutral, listen to candidates, and just wait before making a decision on whom to back.  There’s plenty of time.”