Bob Corker is already facing threats of a tea party primary challenger emerging from his own party. And now Corker’s colleague, national Tea Party leader and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is threatening to withdraw support from Corker and support a primary opponent if Corker votes for the bipartisan debt agreement that would prevent the American economy from default.
This comes just days after Corker infuriated the extreme wing of his party by echoing Democrats’ demands that an agreement extend the debt-ceiling until after the next election.According to the news reports today:
“DeMint had promised after last years election that he would not endorse any opponents to his fellow Republican senators, but is angry enough with the debt ceiling compromise that … he may back serious challengers to Republican senators who support the plan, according to a source close to the senator.”
Other conservative groups like the Club For Growth have also opposed the bipartisan debt agreement.
“Rank and file conservatives in Tennessee are rejecting Bob Corker,” said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “But now, Jim DeMint, a colleague of Senator Corker and one of the most prominent Tea Party leaders in the country, is threatening to support a primary opponent to Corker if he votes to prevent the nation from default. Will Corker pander to the extreme wing of the party or will he face the wrath of Tea Party leaders in Tennessee and across the country?”
Just last week, Corker infuriated the extreme wing of his party by siding with Democrats who wanted any agreement to extend the debt-ceiling until after the next election.
“If we can get worked out over the next several days something that… extends the debt limit beyond this next election, to me that would be a perfect solution and I hope we can do that,” Corker told MSNBC.
DeMint Is “Angry Enough” That He May Back Challengers to Republican Senators. In August 2011, DeMint “is angry enough with the debt-ceiling compromise that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner struck with President Obama that he may back serious challengers to Republican senators who support the plan, according to a source close to the senator.” [The Hill, 8/01/11]
December 2010: DeMint Reassured Colleagues He Would Not Endorse Primary Opponents Against Incumbents. In December 2010, DeMint privately reassured his Republican colleagues up for reelection that he won’t recruit or endorse any primary opponent against them. [Politico, 12/10/10]
But in Mid-June 2011: DeMint Said “It’s Going to Be Pretty Hard” To Stay Out of Primaries. DeMint said in mid-June that “if we have folks who go the wrong way on [the debt ceiling vote], its going to be pretty hard for me to sit still” and stay out of primaries. [The Hill, 8/01/11]
Conservative Club For Growth Urging Congress To Vote ‘No’ Debt Deal. On August 1, 2011, the conservative Club For Growth issued a statement urging Congress to vote no on the Budget Control Act of 2011. [Club For Growth website, accessed 8/1/11]