U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint spent months using his hefty campaign account to vault from first-term U.S. Republican senator to national tea party rainmaker. Now, he faces voters in his own state.
DeMint entered Tuesday's election with a massive lead in fundraising and in recent polls that underscore his popularity in a conservative state.
"I'm really fond of Jim DeMint, I think he's been courageous and bold and an exemplary senator," said Jenny Edwards, a 57-year-old Columbia resident who was laid off over the summer from her job as a school librarian.
DeMint faces Democrat Alvin Greene and Green Party candidate Tom Clements on the general election ballot. He's spent much of the election season backing tea party candidates in other states.
He gave early support to Florida's Marco Rubio and Kentucky's Rand Paul, both of whom defeated establishment Republican candidates to win their primaries. When GOP leaders attacked Delaware's Christine O'Donnell, DeMint gave her money and a key endorsement, helping the underdog pull off one of the year's biggest political upsets over Republican Rep. Michael Castle.