DeMint won’t target Lugar or other GOP incumbents in 2012

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint launched an early volley against four vulnerable Democrats in 2012, calling them out for their failure to back a ban on congressional earmarks. But we wondered yesterday about whether DeMint would also be targeting his GOP colleagues who voted against the ban, in the same way he did during the 2010 primary campaign.

The answer -- for now anyway -- appears to be no.

DeMint told CNN's John King Thursday night that he won't go after Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, a moderate Republican viewed as particularly vulnerable in the state's 2012 GOP primary, and who also voted no on the earmark ban. But DeMint said that while he's not targeting Lugar, other Republicans might.

"I've let Dick know I'm going to keep my focus on Democrats, because compared to the Democrats, every Republican in the Senate is a conservative," DeMint told CNN. "But I think you're going to see a lot of these Republicans who are continuing to stress taking home the bacon, they're going to have primaries … so I am their least worry right now."

Indeed, DeMint appears to be trying to smooth over tensions with his GOP colleagues over his role in the 2010 campaign. As Politico's Manu Raju reports, DeMint recently sent a letter to his fellow Republicans assuring them he won't help recruit primary challengers and that he will support the party's nominees.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)