Opening Act: The DeMint Shift

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 1 2012 8:01 AM

Opening Act: The DeMint Shift

HARRISBURG, Penn. -- I'm still here for the voter ID trial, which will put me in a no-Internet room for much of the day, but last night's Texas Tea Party win underscored the trend that's re-making the Senate. In 2009, Republicans had 41 U.S. Senate seats, several of them occupied by people that the base couldn't stand. They are steadily pulling those people out of office and replacing them with reliable, obstinate conservatives. On the one hand you'll see Olympia Snowe replaced, probably, by Angus King, a liberal independent whom Democrats think they can pull to their side. But keep on down that list.

Jim Bunning replaced by Rand Paul. (Kind of a wash, in some ways.)
Arlen Specter replaced by Pat Toomey.
Bob Bennett replaced by Mike Lee.
Mel Martinez replaced by Marco Rubio.
Richard Lugar replaced by Richard Mourdock.
Kay Bailey Hutchison replaced by Ted Cruz.

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Just leave out the Democrats who've been beaten since 2009. The Club for Growth, Jim DeMint, et al, have made sure that no reliably "red" seat can be held by a compromiser. Meanwhile...

Wes Riddle, one of the cycle's remaining Ron Paul candidates, handily lost a runoff for Congress.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.