At the Heritage Foundation today, Sen. Jim DeMint said that it would be “suicidal” for House GOP members to vote for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s “Plan B” for the debt ceiling, but he stopped short of saying he would actively work to oust Republicans who support the proposal.
“I’m going to be very involved in primaries, but I don’t have plans right now to be involved in primaries against [Republican] incumbents,” said DeMint.
Other conservative leaders have already vowed not to support GOP lawmakers who vote for McConnell’s plan. FreedomWorks, American Majority Action, Let Freedom Ring and the Club for Growth sent a joint letter to congressional Republicans today, announcing that the conservative groups will “refrain from backing any Member of Congress or candidate for federal office, or a leadership position in a Republican Caucus, who supports the McConnell—Reid—Pelosi ‘Cut, Run, and Hide’ plan, to the extent that our various legal structures and rules allow.”
While DeMint might not be actively involved in these efforts, he warned that third-party challenges could be disastrous for the GOP.
“I think for Republicans to cave on this after what happened with the continuing resolution, again, I think you see a deterioration in our base of support and a whole lot of third-party activity,” said DeMint. “I’m afraid this is make-or-break time for Republicans.”
With 2012 being a presidential election year, it’s hard to imagine established conservative groups will have the resources or time to support a substantial number of third-party bids. So except for lawmakers already receiving significant backing from these groups, the threat may not be enough of a deterrent.