As I noted in a post, I oppose Jim DeMint attempting to become the Republican senate leader. The first reason, is that he will not get elected. It is simply a fact, that we must face although it is unpleasant, that Mitch McConnell will be the leader at least for another session of congress. Why is this? Well, one he has power in assigning members to committees, and as the incumbent, voting against him could be costly for the careers of other members. Also, if the opponent was DeMint (and he is the only senator that I have heard might challenge), he would have a hard time getting a dozen votes. If this happens, it would be damaging for DeMint, because those in power would be even more resentful towards him. From the perspective of “pragmatism” this would be a disaster. We/he should not alienate senators, unless we are going to defeat them when they run for election again.
Let us assume now, that someone else was going to challenge McConnell- though I expect that this would not happen until 2013 or 2015. The reasonable contender would be Whip Jon Kyl- who is usually very solid. Another clearly ambitious senator would be Lamar Alexander- who is a part of “leadership”, and ran for Whip against Trent Lott, losing by a mere 25-24. Alexander is wishy-washy. However, I think it is unlikely McConnell will be challenged.
McConnell has many faults, chief among them his voting record on several important issues: immigration, TARP, foreign aid and many others. His lifetime ACU rating is 89- which puts him in the middle of the current Republican caucus, which, if 2010 goes well, should be much larger and more in line with our principles. There are also important things that I think he is good at. Yes, he is uninspiring, and his involvement in Grayson/Paul is awful. But, he has done several good things. One, he got every one to stand their ground on Health care- even Snowe & Collins (who I was sure would defect). Second, I think he is generally well liked in the Republican caucus, which helps him to keep votes on our side. Third, on the budget issues, which are when we may very well need bipartisanship, he could bring along 1 or 2 Democrats.
Now, why, even if he could get elected to the post, would it be bad to have DeMint as Senate Leader? At first, this seems irrational, as I have called him the best Senator. Being majority leader affects what an individual senator can do. McConnell, it is noted, rarely intervenes in primary contests. DeMint on the other hand does, and we need this to continue. As the Senate majority/ minority leader he would have so much on his plate trying to swing votes, negotitate, talk with the media etc., it would limit his ability to bring more people like Lee, Paul or Rubio into the Senate. Also, I do not think that DeMint would handle the P.R. the right way. Additionally, he would have a hard time (1) maintaining party discipline and (2) getting the few halfway decent Democrats to vote with us.
Therefore, if there is one thing I do not think DeMint should do, it is run for Senate Majority/Minority leader. It is futile, and counter-productive.
These are some thoughts from Paul Weyrich on recent leadership contests and strategy
http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/weyrich/060125 (House in 2006)