DeMint may have hit upon a winning strategy; 10 of the 15 candidates promoted by the Senate Conservatives Fund are still standing after primaries, and most of them are either in competitive races or have good chances of winning in November. Plus, now that these candidates are official Republican nominees, they are receiving support from the likes of McConnell. DeMint's fund has also shown that it is an effective fundraiser; it tweeted on September 20 that it had raised $95,000 for Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller in the 48 hours after Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced she would be a write-in candidate for the seat, having lost the Republican nomination to Miller in August.
Still, even if it proves successful, Hoskins is uncertain of whether this highly targeted use of leadership PACs will catch on among other politicians. "If members of Congress want to use their PAC to effectively elect candidates, they will use them for independent expenditures," he says. "Whether they will, I just don't know; the jury's out."
- Read more about the 2010 elections.
- Leadership PACs have donated more than $13 million this cycle--see who got the money.
- Check out our editorial cartoons on the 2010 campaigns.
In an earlier version of this story, Republican lawmaker Mike Castle's current office was misidentified. He is a member of the House of Representatives.