Shunning the man Sarah Palin endorsed to be the next Senator from Washington state — tea party favorite Clint Didier (R) — Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has decided to back the national party’s choice in the race, former gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi (R).
The Washington Post previews tomorrow’s announcement:
“When I met with Dino a couple months ago, he made it clear he was only interested in running if Republicans were serious about saving our country from fiscal collapse,” DeMint will say in announcing the endorsement. “I’ve studied his record and his positions on the key issues, and it’s clear that he will stand up to the establishment in both parties.”
DeMint’s backing gives Rossi some of the conservative cred he needs to keep Didier and his supporters at bay. But it also gives him a connection with the tea party side of the GOP that might not sit well with general election voters in the blue state. But in the short-term, DeMint’s backing probably means a big new revenue stream for Rossi, who needs to raise a lot of money fast if he wants to eliminate Sen. Patty Murray’s (D) cash advantage.
In backing Rossi, DeMint is siding with the national Republican party in a way that’s usually uncommon for the feisty South Carolinian. The NRSC has said that Rossi gives the GOP one of its best chances at a Senate pickup this year, and it’s expected that the national GOP will pump plenty of money into the race if polls remain as tight as they are now.
But before Rossi and Murray can battle it out, both have to emerge from the state’s “top 2” open primary system. The endorsement from DeMint could help cement Rossi’s lead over Didier and the other Republicans on the ballot.
The TPM Poll Average for a Rossi-Murray general shows the race to be all but deadlocked, with Murray leading 45.5-44.8.