In my chat with Will Cain, I mention that Pat Toomey has had the NRSC’s support since July 2009 — an example of the national GOP enjoying the “benefit, in a lot states, of having conservative candidates” on its side, eliminating the possibility of Rubio-Crist or Coats-Stutzman-type drama in coming months. This, of course, wasn’t always the case, especially with Toomey. The NRSC originally supported Sen. Arlen Specter in his reelection bid before he bolted then reportedly tried to recruit other big names, like Tom Ridge, to run. DeMint, on the other hand, made Toomey the Senate Conservatives Fund’s first endorsement of 2009, when Specter was still running as a GOPer.
So when I call Toomey an “establishment candidate,” I mean it in the best sense — that DeMint’s efforts, from my perspective, have changed the way the NRSC operates. Some in the Beltway may have wanted Specter or Ridge, but because of Toomey’s surging campaign, they eventually realized that he is the party’s best chance at winning and a clear example of the party’s current values. DeMint deserves credit for transforming the center of gravity.
UPDATE: Marc Thiessen offers an excellent take on DeMint here.