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DeMint to endorse Michael Williams in Texas

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint is emerging as a leading national voice for conservatives. AP Photo by Mic Smith

Conservative South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) will endorse Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams' Senate candidacy later today, a move designed to thin the GOP field running to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).

"Democrats are trying to catch Republicans flat-footed and pick off the Texas Senate seat," said a source close to DeMint who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about strategic matters. "This endorsement will signal its time for conservatives and independents to rally behind Michael."

The seat is not formally vacant yet as Hutchison has delayed her planned resignation until after her March 2 primary fight against Gov. Rick Perry (R). Assuming she does resign, a special election will be held in 2010 although Perry would have the opportunity appoint a temporary replacement until the special is held.

Williams has been running for the nonexistent race for the better part of the last year. He was appointed to his current post by then Gov. George W. Bush in 1998 and has won three subsequent races in 2000, 2002 and 2008. Williams is the first African American to hold statewide office in Texas.

Williams reached out to DeMint in October to seek his endorsement and the two met in Washington soon after. DeMint also polled supporters of his Senate Conservatives Fund to judge their level of support for Williams, according to a source familiar with the process.

(DeMint also polled his backers about potential endorsements of Patrick Hughes, who is running in the Illinois Republican Senate primary against Rep. Mark Kirk, and Rand Paul who is running for Senate in Kentucky.)

Williams is the fourth Republican running for Senate that DeMint has endorsed via the Senate Conservative Fund. In two of those cases, DeMint is backing a candidate challenging the party establishment's preferred candidate; in Florida, DeMint is supporting former state House Speaker Marco Rubio over Gov. Charlie Crist while in California DeMint has endorsed state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in his race against former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina.

By endorsing Williams in Texas, DeMint is sure to stoke chatter that he is setting up his own rogue -- with apologies to Sarah Palin -- political operation to rival that of National Republican Senatorial Committee John Cornyn (Texas). Cornyn has largely avoided offering any comment about the expected special election in his home state but conventional wisdom is that national Republicans would like to see wealthy Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as the candidate.

DeMint allies insist that his decision to back Williams has nothing to do with bucking Cornyn but rather paint the choice as an attempt to unite the entire party -- not just conservatives -- behind a single candidate and, by so doing, to avoid the prospect of former state Comptroller John Sharp, the near-certain Democratic nominee, winning the special election thanks to a badly fractured GOP.

Still, DeMint's active role in a series of high-profile primaries around the country signals he has not intent of forfeiting his status as the de facto leader -- within Congress -- of the tea party wing of the party.

Like him or hate him, DeMint cannot be ignored -- particularly by his party's establishment.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 9, 2009; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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I will be voting for Michael Williams if Hutchison resigns her Senate seat. I've been a fan of his for years, and I was very disappointed in President Bush for not appointing him to his cabinet; he would have been a great asset to the Dept. of Energy or Transportation or Labor. Also, a lot of you throw around the word "racist" ... I'm not sure you know exactly what it means. Robert C. Byrd, a veritable pillar of the Democratic Party for the last 3 decades, is the only (current) member of the U.S. Senate to have been an active member of the KKK. 2 Supreme Ct. justices - Edward White & Hugo Black (please don't let the irony of their surnames escape you) - were in the Klan, and both were Democrats. And, isn't it the left that's always playing the race card in order to avoid having to defend their boneheaded policies?

For those of you who aren't familiar w/ the landscape in Texas, there are plenty of right-wing, bona fide "rednecks" who will be enthusiastic as hell about voting for a black conservative. Also, as someone who knows Edward Brooke personally - a claim I'm making because I know you can't disprove it - yes, he was a moderate/liberal Republican, but a Republican to this day; he was a brilliant lawyer and a great attorney general. And, yes, he had an affair w/ Barbara Walters. That I can't defend, but I will say that, given the chance, I would **** Lara Logan.

Posted by: right-wing_genius | December 12, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

As a Texas resident for the last 15 years, I'm not sure the average Texas Republican voter has a clue who Jim "Wellington" DeMint is, or if they do that they appreciate a South Carolinian trying to anoint the next Texas senator.

Also, I doubt they are that interested in ideology per se, the larger group of them just wants some one who can talk like a badass about guns, gays and taxes. And then of course the Chamber of Commerce types who just want one who is for sale and is willing to allow big business to steal from the public without government getting in the way.

Posted by: lithium452 | December 10, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

You have to feel sorry for the few sane members left in the GOP.


No, we don't. They've decided to stay in the pot while the water got hotter. They decided to remain when their party supported torture, when their party abandoned what principles it had in favor of power, when their party tossed out their calculators and jumped on board tax breaks for the wealthy, when their party became home to racists and paranoids.

They could have left at anytime, or they could have pushed back against the purgers.

They've made their bed, they can lie in it, and no, we don't need to feel sorry for them.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 10, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

You have to feel sorry for the few sane members left in the GOP. DeMint is an embarrassment, as is Palin. Her fourth grade science teacher must be cringing over her editorial in this paper, not that she wrote it. Apparently she has the uncanny ability to think something and poof, it appears in print!

Posted by: Koko3 | December 10, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

igneous, it took me a year to forget that and now you have planted the image in my head again, you rat.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 10, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I guess this is news if DeMint's opinion matters to you. But isn't this a little bit of a circular thing going on where its solely his willingness to endorse makes his endorsement important?

Posted by: nodebris | December 9, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that DeMint[ed] isn't running for President needs a fix, of one sort or another.

Posted by: jeffersonian1 | December 9, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"Not exactly the kind of person who would be welcome in today's GOP."

No one who cheated on his wife with Barbara Walters would be welcome in today's GOP. I consider that a good thing.

Posted by: igneous | December 9, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

As one of the few Republican politicians I can stand, I hope he loses it again.


He seems like a warm, personable fellow.

Just remind yourself how much damage he would do if he had the chance. He's a social conservative and he thinks in certainties and absolutes. A Huckabee administration would probably get a lot of innocent people killed.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I just love Huckabee warning the GOP against the dangers of being hospitable to anyone who doesn't believe exactly like its most extreme members.

Heaven forfend they might attract some voters.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

"guitar playin' minister with big brown eyes"

What the hell happened to Huckabee? He's really ballooned up since the last time I'd seen him. As one of the few Republican politicians I can stand, I hope he loses it again.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 9, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Well, it used to be that in order to be a big deal in a political party you had to put in some time, show some skill, a little intelligence, political savvy, a willingness to stay the course, raise money and work hard. Now all you've got to do is assert yourself and there you are.

Of course, there has to be a huge vacuum in your political party. Then an assertive good-lookin' gal, a boring gov who can't be re-elected, a millionaire who keeps putting himself out there, a guitar playin' minister with big brown eyes and a mouthy southern missing link with no seniority can step right into the vacuum.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 9, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe some of you confuse TX with a southern state.


Most of us are aware that Texas is politically diverse .. if we can grasp that California has one of the GOP's most ideological districts despite its impression as a liberal state, our imaginations are probably flexible enough to grasp the same about Texas, the two-syllable version.

But there is also the four-syllable Texas (tay yuk say yes), the part of the state with the nastiest and farthest-right lunatics to be found anywhere, the part of the state that blacks know better than to drive through, where the radio dial is loaded with announcers yelling about piles of handguns on display in strip malls.

The home of, if not the origin of, the most conceited pretense to "self-reliance" to be found anywhere.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Michael Williams is our other statewide elected black R.

The deMint endorsement carries with it for me confirmation of the rumor that Goodhair will appoint him interim US Senator if/when KBH resigns.

We elect our judges here and Wallace Jefferson, CJ of the TX Supremes, is a black R. He is a good judge, btw.

Maybe some of you confuse TX with a southern state. It has a southern state within it, which I call the Piney woods. It has a Plains State within it. It has a mountain state within it. It has booming cities - 5 of the 17 largest in America. It has been electing blacks for a long time - Barbara Jordan, may she rest in peace, was the first black congressperson from a former confederate state after Reconstruction and she could have been Senator, but for her health.

Williams would have tough competition in both the special and the runoff. I will be voting for Sharp, the D.

Williams was a first rate lawyer and began his tenure on the RR Commission [that regulates O&G] fairly well, but I think he soon fell into the open arms of the industry that he supposedly regulates. He will be well funded.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 9, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys for the Edward Brooke name. Here's his Wikipedia page. He was considered a liberal Republican. But that's far more liberal than people like Snowe and Collins.,_III

I get the bleached teeth ad too, but I also get some ad for unemployed mothers which is about as polar opposite as you can get from me.

Also, my teeth are perfect.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 9, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Why would anyone not white, male, and racist want to be in the GOP?

Oh, and the top 0.01%, of course. Unlike anyone else, they have a personal interest.

We have Mike Huckabee warning of the dangers of a big tent (gawd can you BELIEVE it?!?), we have Palin sneering at anyone with an education, Latinos, well, 'nuff said... who does that leave?

A few million white-haired rednecks.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: donaldtucker | December 9, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse


Playing hooker sucks even worse if you can't grow facial hair to counteract the two sheets of coarse-grained sandpaper on either side of your head.

I'm getting the "DO NOT bleach teeth" ad too.


That black R Senator was from MA. Hasn't been a black Senator from the South since Reconstruction.

Posted by: mnteng | December 9, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The only black Republican senator since Reconstruction was the fairly liberal Ed Brooke from Massachusetts (who just celebrated his 90th birthday, I think). Not exactly the kind of person who would be welcome in today's GOP.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | December 9, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Even more important, does everybody's Fix splash (if that is what its called) have the sponsored link that says DO NOT Bleach Teeth! or did I do too many Doug Hoffman searches or what?


No, I see them too. Pretty funny when they were showing all around Hoffman's Sonicare-free incisors.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

My nose is bent like that too from being a winger on the college rugby team. Out on the line is better for your ears (and your brain) than being a prop or worst, the hooker, but it is all very hard on your nose). I wonder if DeMint was a rugger?

Even more important, does everybody's Fix splash (if that is what its called) have the sponsored link that says DO NOT Bleach Teeth! or did I do too many Doug Hoffman searches or what? The Bipolar Treatment thing seems kinda personal too, how do they know? ;-> Gotta go run in the deep freeeze, 'till tomorrow.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 9, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Republicans are ready to elect a black Senator. I don't think there's been one since the 1970s.


Considering that racists have found their true home in the GOP, it would be folly to run a minority, the Base wouldn't vote for him, and quite a number would defect to some whacko third party like the one Jake claims to belong to

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Republicans are ready to elect a black Senator. I don't think there's been one since the 1970s.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Let this hooting male Palin "emerge as a leading voice for conservatives."

I guess Joe the Plumber was otherwise engaged?

DeMint is a buffoon, but then so are most of what passes for "conservatives" these days.

"It'll be his Waterloo! TWEE-YOOO!!"

kerHUCK kerHUCK kerHUCK! (snort)

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 9, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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