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SC's Senator DeMint Is GOP 'Power Broker'

Political newcomer Alvin Greene has captured a lot of attention in his unlikely bid for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, but polls show he has little chance of winning in November. So his opponent, incumbent Republican Jim DeMint, is using the campaign season to focus on getting other people elected. DeMint has nearly $4 million in his own campaign fund and so much support that his re-election looks pretty certain. One recent poll showed him 42 points ahead of Alvin Greene. So DeMint is spending a lot of his time and money on other races: he's helped raise more than $2 million for senate candidates in at least eight states. "We support only those who believe and will fight to restrain our government, so you and your family can live free, independent and prosperous lives," says DeMint in a video on the website of his political action committee called the Senate Conservatives Fund. The site (http://www.senateconservatives.com/) lets donors give to multiple candidates on DeMint's endorsement list using a single credit card transaction. The fund hopes to raise another $3 million before November. Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon says, "This will absolutely make DeMint a power broker in the Republican Party to the degree he is successful with this effort." But Huffmon says DeMint is playing a high stakes game. His contributions through the Senate Conservatives Fund have frequently run counter to the Republican Party establishment. DeMint's favorites tend to line up with the Tea Party movement, of which he too is a favorite. If DeMint's picks win, he ends up a kingmaker. If they lose, he's alienated a lot of important Republicans. "The Tea Party folks and those further on the right will see this as Jim DeMint doing something right - no pun intended," says Huffmon. "But to the main stream Republicans, this is the kind of thing that gives them pause." A spokesman for the Senate Conservatives Fund says DeMint is not worried about ruffling feathers, and that he would have been raising money for other candidates, whether or not he had a serious challenger of his own.