Tea Party Republican Senator Jim DeMint announced today that he is resigning next month to run the conservative Heritage Foundation. Slate picks up this part of the Wall Street Journal report about the South Carolina Republican:
"This is an urgent time," the senator said, "because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections." Mr. DeMint, who was a market researcher before he entered politics, said he plans to take the Heritage Foundation's traditional research plus that of think tanks at the state level and "translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work." He said, "We want to figure out what works at the local and state level" and give those models national attention.
For Republicans now, it does seem that the states are where they're going to try to figure out what works and how to get their policies in effect. The movement began after the 2010 elections, when Republicans swept to power in state legislatures -- giving us two years of Republican governance marked by anti-abortion, anti-union, make-voting-harder legislation. It made for tough sledding at the national level in 2012, as Republicans picked up only two more states in the presidential election.
But at the level of governorships and state legislatures, Republicans picked up more seats. Both parties consolidated super-majorities in new places, but it is Republicans who emerged with complete control of 24 states. If they want to experiment in the states in the way Senator DeMint describes, they have a wide, wide field.
We got the same kind of news this week from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who tells the Wall Street Journal (paywall) he intends to double his $100 million spending. As the Journal reports, Adelson intends to funnel that money "especially to state-level, antiunion initiatives." Look out below.