Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) wasted no time aligning himself with tea party candidates who won Senate seats on Tuesday — and took a shot at Republican leaders for not supporting their new conservative colleagues during their campaigns.
DeMint, who chairs the Senate Conservatives Fund, praised Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) for overcoming “difficult odds” by sticking to conservative principles when GOP leaders declined to back them.
“I want to congratulate Rand Paul on winning a race that the leaders in his own party said he could not win,” DeMint said. “I was honored to be an early supporter of his campaign and I look forward to working with him in the Senate.”
On Rubio’s victory, the South Carolina Republican said he “was honored to support Marco’s campaign in the primary when the Washington establishment opposed him and even laughed at his chances. Now the people of Florida get to have the last laugh as they send an outstanding leader to represent them in Washington.”
DeMint sunk money from his own re-election campaign into Paul’s and Rubio’s campaigns; he gave $250,000 to the Florida GOP Victory Committee and $150,000 to the Kentucky GOP Victory Committee.
Dick Armey, chairman of the conservative group FreedomWorks, praised Rubio for defeating “two liberal establishment candidates,” referring to Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) and Gov. Charlie Crist (I).
“Up against a confrontational media, Marco ran a campaign focused on the issues and is proof that solid conservative principles will win out over politicking and pandering,” he said.
Armey said Marco represents “the ultimate goal of the Tea Party,” which is returning our government to the conservative principles that made this country great.”
Tea party organizers in Washington, D.C., hailed the victories as proof of the dedication of their movement.
“I think all these elections were affected by the enthusiasm of the tea partiers,” said Keli Carender, a national support team member with the Tea Party Patriots.
“You either have to get paid enough or care enough” to take on the tedious responsibilities of a campaign effort, Carender said. “Nobody was getting paid, so it shows how much people care.”
<b>John Stanton contributed to this report.</b>