[originally posted at Beltway Confidential]
Last Thursday night on the Senate floor, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, then still a Republican, that DeMint would be supporting Specter’s rival, former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in next year’s Senate Republican primary. DeMint says Specter “pretty much cut me off and said, ‘I’ve heard enough.’”
DeMint wouldn’t speculate whether this conversation spurred Specter to switch parties, but the conversation came within hours of the release of a poll showing Toomey leading Specter among primary voters 51 percent to 30 percent. “We knew Pat was going to win the primary,” DeMint said in a Capitol Hill interview Tuesday, minutes after Specter announced his move. “This [party switch] shouldn’t surprise anyone. It was a clever political move.”
DeMint had not yet gone public with his support for Toomey by the time Specter switched.
DeMint said Specter's switch “shows that there were not principles attaching Arlen to the Republican Party, but the Republican Party was the means to get elected.”
DeMint continued: “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs."
Toomey had speculated in an interview with National Review's David Freddoso that Specter might leave the party before the primary, because Pennsylvania has a “sore loser law” that prevents primary losers from running for the same office on a different party line.