Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is best known for bucking the wishes of the GOP leadership when he makes political endorsements. But on Monday the tea party favorite threw his support behind the Senate bid of Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is facing a stiff challenge for the nomination from millionaire political newcomer Wil Cardon.
Flake had been the odds-on favorite for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, but Cardon has poured $4 million of his own money into the contest and is vowing to spend even more.
"We've always thought Jeff Flake was an outstanding candidate, but he didn't need our help ... until now," DeMint wrote in an email to supporters announcing his endorsement.
DeMint urged conservatives to give to Flake: "We must act now to level the financial playing field."
DeMint praised Flake, who has led the anti-earmark movement in Congress, saying that "nobody has done more to advance the cause of freedom" than Jeff Flake. Nobody."
He also fired at Cardon for a trio of conservative apostasies: supporting earmarks, taxes and limits on political speech.
Including Flake, DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund PAC has endorsed five candidates this cycle. Ted Cruz in Texas, Josh Mandel in Ohio, Don Stenberg in Nebraska and Mark Neumann in Wisconsin are the other four.