Jim DeMint resigns from U.S. Senate to run Heritage Foundation

By Francesca Chambers and Katie LaPotin

In a surprise move Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina announced his retirement from Congress’ upper chamber this morning and announced that he would take over as President-elect of the Heritage Foundation next month.

In a statement released this morning, DeMint commented that, “It’s been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in [the] United States Senate for the past eight years, but now it’s time for me to pass the torch to someone else and take on a new role in the fight for America’s future.”

DeMint, 61, has represented South Carolina in the U.S. Senate for the last eight years. He previously represented South Carolina’s fourth Congressional District for the six years leading up to his election to the U.S. Senate. While in the Senate he has made a reputation for himself as a key leader of the Tea Party movement. Through his PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint has helped elect likeminded individuals to the chamber, including Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

The Heritage Foundation is the leading think tank for conservative policy in the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation’s mission is “to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner will retire as President of the organization in April, but will stay on as Chancellor of the Foundation and chairman of its Asian Studies Center. The date of Feulner’s departure from Heritage has long been known; the name of who would succeed him had not.

In a post on the organization’s “The Foundry” blog, Vice President of Communications, Mike Gonzalez, said Feulner “may be the hardest act to follow in Washington D.C.”

“He built Heritage into a permanent Washington institution, the leading think tank in America, Gonazlez writes. “After long consideration, Heritage’s board decided that the man in Washington to take the reins from Feulner was DeMint. He stood out as the right man at the right time for Heritage and the country.”

According to the Heritage Action scorecard, DeMint – along with his protégé Mike Lee of Utah – is the most conservative member of Congress. Both Senators have a 99 percent conservative rating from the grassroots arm of the Heritage Foundation. The next grouping of members rang in at only 97 percent.

As soon as his announcement became public, DeMint held a meeting with staffers of the Heritage Foundation to tell them how pleased he was to be joining their organization.

DeMint reportedly called the move “a big promotion” and said he feels right at home at the conservative organization.

“This literally feels like I just walked in the front door my own house,” DeMint said, according to Heritage’s Lachlan Markay.

In the address DeMint credited the staff of the Heritage Foundation for shaping his positions on public policy, saying that, “Every policy I ever developed… someone in this room helped me develop it.”

Minutes after the news was announced the phrases DeMint, Senate and Heritage began trending on twitter, as conservatives celebrated the news and politicos discussed what DeMint’s retirement from Congress would mean for the future of the Republican Party.

Republican officials were quick to thank DeMint for his service to the party. In a statement Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called DeMint “a powerful voice for conservative ideals in a town where those principles are too often hidden beneath business as usual.”

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley wrote on her facebook DeMint was a “true inspiration.”

“On a personal level, I value Jim’s leadership and friendship. Our state’s loss is the Heritage Foundation’s gain,” she said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news, Haley will appoint a replacement to DeMint’s seat for 2013 who will then have to run in a special election for the seat in 2014. South Carolina’s other Senator, Lindsey Graham, will also be up for reelection in 2014.

CNN reports that sources close to DeMint claim he favors freshman Rep. Tim Scott to fill his position in the Senate. If Scott, 47, is selected as expected, he would be the only black U.S. Senator.

DeMint is the fourth member of Congress to announce his resignation since the Nov. 6 election – exactly one month ago. Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.),  Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.) have also made resignation announcements in the last month.

Update: A DeMint staff emails The Washington Post to clarify that DeMint does not have a “favorite” to replace him in the Senate.

Comments

Comments

  1. Brian Maday says:

    Our SENATE will miss this man greatly.

Jonathan Gruber raps to MIT students

If you’ve been dying to see Jonathan Gruber, who credited the “stupidity of the American voter” with passing Obamacare, strip down to his undershirt and rap about economics, today is your lucky day!

Stewart mocks the Iowa Freedom Summit

Jon Stewart’s coverage of the Iowa Freedom Summit is about what you would expect—starting with his description the event: “A lot of Republicans who will never be president met this weekend,” for the “Fox News correspondent auditions.”

McCain takes on 'Sniper' bashers

Sen. John McCain is the latest person in a position of prominence to defend "American Sniper" from bashers, singling out the "obsessive critics of U.S. foreign policy" in an official statement.

Michael Moore continues on about snipers

Filmmaker Michael Moore has already stirred the pot with his negative comments about military snipers. During the weekend, somebody must've given the man an even bigger ladle.

Dropkick Murphys 'literally hate' Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's abiding love for the Dropkick Murphys is not exactly mutual:

White House

VP Biden appears on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ to get ask young people to sign up for Obamacare
With three weeks to go until the Obamacare deadline to purchase insurance, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to encourage young people to sign up.  The renewed push included a stop by Vice President Joe Biden on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday so he could appeal to moms who are good at […]
Small drone crashes at White House complex, origin unclear
WASHINGTON (AP) — A small drone flying at low altitude crashed into the White House complex before dawn Monday, the Secret Service said. President Barack Obama was not at home and the White House said it did not pose a security threat. The crash prompted an immediate lockdown of the White House grounds until officials […]
WH chief of staff blurts out previously-concealed name of American hostage on live TV

All in a day's work at the White House: sometimes you keep ISIS hostage names a secret, sometimes you let them slip in an in interview on national TV.

7 Times Obama was ‘Partisan,’ Not ‘Practical’ during his State of the Union address
Near the beginning of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama promised to be “practical, not partisan” in his proposals to Congress. However, his speech ended up being anything but. From cracking jokes to outright veto threats, it was clear that the president had no interest in bipartisanship. So we decided to […]
Obama has been reminding Republicans ‘I won’ for 2,189 days

President Obama trotted out one of his favorite talking points against Republicans yet again Tuesday night, reminding the opposition party that "I won."

Congress

Boehner and McConnell critique SOTU

“Dead. Real dead.” That was House Speaker John Boehner’s verdict on President Obama’s tax proposals--and nearly every proposal from his State of the Union address, with the exception of cybersecurity, fighting ISIS, trade, and possibly the childcare tax credit.

Senate surpasses its 2014 vote total in a week
Is this what the Senate looks like without Harry Reid in charge? The new Republican-led Senate has already voted on more amendments in just one week than the Democratic-controlled Senate voted on in all of 2014. “We’ve actually reached a milestone here that I think is noteworthy for the Senate. We just cast our 15th roll-call vote […]
Whistleblowers denounce DOJ juvenile program

According to whistleblower reports, a Justice Department (DOJ) juvenile delinquency program provided grants to states jailing foster children and runaways over minor offenses like skipping school.

Gohmert: Obama 'divisive on the issue of race'

There’s a reason reporters clamored around former-House-Speaker-candidate Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at the State of the Union like this:

Rand Paul slams SOTU’s ‘lack of sincerity’ on NSA

Senator Rand Paul spent Wednesday morning blasting Obama’s State of the Union address, telling a roomful of conservatives at the Capitol Hill Club that “Some of the stuff, frankly, was difficult to even listen to and keep a straight face.”