The resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-Sc., could spell bad news for his soon-to-be former GOP colleagues—namely Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,—who face re-election in 2014.
In a statement, McConnell praised DeMint’s “uncompromising service,” however, as BuzzFeed’s John Stanton points out, DeMint has been pushing for Republicans to be more conservative for years. And as president of the Heritage Foundation, he will have an ideal seat to wage an ideological war on incumbents such as McConnell.
There’s no love lost between DeMint and the top Republican in the Senate. The two have repeatedly clashed over policy positions McConnell has sought to push, as well as the broader direction of the conference and Republican Party.
Given his already significant unpopularity with conservative activists like Eric Erikson at redstate.com, McConnell was already facing at best thinly concealed hostility from conservatives in his upcoming re-election bid. And while he’s likely not in real danger from a primary challenge — or a general election Democratic opponent — DeMint has never been one to give up on a lost cause.
But unlike other Republican Senators who have been caught flat-footed (re: Dick Lugar of Indiana) , McConnell has anticipated a primary challenge since the 2010 races.