Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), credited with helping create a wave for Tea Party-backed candidates in GOP primaries this cycle, is downplaying his efforts on their behalf.


The conservative South Carolina senator said in an interview published Monday that he is not a "kingmaker," but simply pushing for candidates who favor limited government.

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"I'm not a kingmaker and we don't need any more kings up here," DeMint told the Los Angeles Times. "What we need is just folks who are going to keep their oath of office for a limited government," he said. "Change comes hard here. So I think anyone who pushes a little bit is seen as a troublemaker."

Using his Senate Conservatives Fund and his national recognition, DeMint has bucked his party's leadership in several races by endorsing Tea Party-backed candidates against establishment front-runners in GOP primary races.

But that has angered many GOP lawmakers and operatives, who think that the wave of Tea Party candidates could cost Republicans a chance at taking control of the Senate, a feat which would require that they win a whopping 10 seats. 

The senator's comments come as political observers point to races in Delaware, Nevada and Alaska as races the GOP could have won more easily with establishment candidates on the ticket.

In an interview with The Hill last month, DeMint appeared to relish his role as a "kingmaker," following victories by Tea Party candidates in several primary contests. 

"I’ve been involved in helping to create it,” DeMint said of the movement. "I believed the only thing that could turn around this government spending and mounting debt would be if the people rose up."

Most notably, DeMint went against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-Ky.) by endorsing Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law McConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' MORE, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), against Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayon in the GOP Senate primary in McConnell's home state.

DeMint also backed former Florida House Speaker Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio on Chris Pratt water bottle story: 'I too was caught with a single use plastic water bottle' House votes to sanction Chinese officials over treatment of Uighurs Poll: 51 percent of Florida voters disapprove of Trump MORE against then-Republican (now independent) candidate Gov. Charlie Crist. He also endorsed Ken Buck against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Colorado GOP Senate primary.

The senator backed a number of insurgent candidates against his fellow incumbent senators following their primary wins, such Alaska's Joe Miller and Utah's Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE. He endorsed Delaware's Christine O'Donnell (R) just days before her Senate primary contest against nine-term centrist Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) He also backed Nevada's Sharron Angle shortly after her primary victory over former state GOP chief Sue Lowden.

Some have speculated that DeMint's prominence in the 2010 midterm cycle could spur him to run for a leadership spot in his party's Senate conference. DeMint has not closed the door on the possibility, but sounded bearish during his interview with the Times.

"Do I look like a rabble-rouser?" he responded when asked about a run at leadership.