Mar Orndorff Troyan, Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The political action committee founded by Sen. Jim DeMint, a darling of the Tea Party movement, was three-for-nine in picking conservative Senate candidates this year - after spending more than $8.7 million.
Of the nine Republican Senate candidates that received money from the Senate Conservatives Fund, only Ted Cruz of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska won election on Tuesday.
Those three and the six losing candidates benefited from some of the $16.5 million raised by the fund and an affiliated super PAC over the 2011-2012 election cycle, said Matt Hoskins, the fund's executive director.
Despite the fund's less-than-stellar record, DeMint and Hoskins are urging supporters to resist calls for moderation.
"We will certainly face many battles in Congress in the coming months that will give us the opportunity to clearly articulate the failures of liberalism and the common sense of conservative alternatives," DeMint wrote on his Facebook page. "We must not shrink from the fight on Capitol Hill or in drawing these distinctions for the American people, regardless of the attempted distortions by the mainstream press."
DeMint is no longer affiliated with the fund, which he created to help elect fellow conservatives to the Senate. But his comments strongly suggest Tea Party Republicans have no intention of compromising on core issues just because Obama won a second term.
Hoskins went even further in a Friday statement that questioned House Speaker John Boehner's leadership, based on his recent comments about taxes, immigration and health care.
"Despite winning another Republican majority in the House, Boehner thinks President Obama has a mandate to enact policies that destroy jobs, ignore the rule of law, and take over our health care decisions," Hoskins wrote. "Obama is the first president in modern history to win re-election with fewer states than he won the first time, yet Boehner is waving the white flag on our core principles."
Boehner, in post-election remarks on Capitol Hill and in a national television interview, said House Republicans would be open to a deficit-reduction plan that includes new revenue through tax reform. He also said that comprehensive immigration reform was overdue and that the 2010 health care reform law - abhorred by conservatives - is the "law of the land."
The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party opposes tax increases and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, and favors repealing of "Obamacare."
"Abandoning these principles and capitulating to liberal policies is not a strategy for success," Hoskins said.
Boehner said House Republicans would support new revenue as part of a broader deficit-reduction plan, but only under certain conditions.
"Shoring up entitlements and reforming the tax code, closing special interest loopholes and deductions, and moving to a fairer, simpler system will bring jobs home and result in a stronger, healthier economy," Boehner said.
The six GOP Senate candidates backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund who lost on Tuesday are Josh Mandel of Ohio, Richard Mourdock of Indiana, George Allen of Virginia, Tom Smith of Pennsylvania, Dan Bongino of Maryland and Todd Akin of Missouri.
Hoskins defended the fund's record in this year's Senate races.
"It was a very bad year for Republicans across the board," he said Friday. "Only three non-incumbent Republican candidates for Senate won, and all three of them were endorsed and supported by the Senate Conservatives Fund."