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Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate successor has already been announced, but the influential political action committee he founded has no plans to replace him.
The Senate Conservatives Fund helped vault the junior senator from South Carolina to the national stage when he founded it in 2008. But while DeMint’s resignation in January re-creates a vacuum that he filled just a few years ago, his former PAC is willfully moving on without a leader.
“This is actually what Sen. DeMint always wanted,” SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins told CQ Roll Call. “Our idea from the start was to nationalize candidates and to raise real money for them by harnessing the combined power of the grass roots.”
In 2010, the SCF raised $9 million, spent $1.9 million in independent expenditures, bundled $5.6 million for candidates and had $100,000 in direct contributions. The group boosted those totals during the 2012 cycle to $16 million raised, $3.2 million in IE spending, $10.6 million in bundled contributions for candidates and $55,000 in direct contributions.
“He never wanted SCF to be about him. It was always about the candidates,” Hoskins added.
With a mission of electing “principled conservatives” who believe in limited government, the SCF has been at the epicenter of the fight between tea party conservatives and establishment Republicans over the past two cycles and has a record of high-profile wins and losses.
DeMint, who has emerged as a conservative seal of approval for candidates across the country, was an early supporter of and believer in Florida’s Marco Rubio, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz of Texas when all three men were heavy underdogs in their primary contests. All three won their primary and general elections. But in 2010, the senator and the SCF also supported Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware — two seats that would likely be in Republican hands today if the party had a different nominee.
A leaderless Senate Conservatives Fund was in the works this summer, well before the senator’s surprise announcement that he is resigning to move to The Heritage Foundation.
DeMint originally filed Senate Conservatives Fund as a leadership PAC with the Federal Election Commission on April 15, 2008, about three and a half years after he was elected to the Senate. But on July 1 of this year, the SCF amended its organizational statement and disassociated itself as DeMint’s leadership PAC. At the same time, Hoskins started an affiliated super PAC called Senate Conservatives Action.