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.

Polititainment

Michael Bay might direct Benghazi movie

Bay, who has spent the last several years gaining popularity for his "Transformers" films, is reportedly in talks to direct the Benghazi film "13 Hours," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Holder wants Denzel to play him in movie

Holder spoke to The Hill about Hollywood and politics while at an event at the Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday that was hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

'Rival Survival' premiering Wednesday

Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) are getting ready to show America their bipartisan fire-starting skills on "Rival Survival," a reality show starring tho lawmakers that premiers Wednesday night on the Discovery Channel.

Lovitz has a field day with Hillary

Before Hillary Clinton's jobs comment is swept aside as a minor whoopsie, a few words from Jon Lovitz.

John Oliver has some ideas for the FDA

Some people want more nutrition information on food labels--but who really understands those labels anyway?

White House

Russian hackers broke into the White House network

Hackers with suspected ties to the Russian government recently broke into the White House’s unclassified computer network, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Obama is withholding over 15,000 Fast and Furious documents

President Obama claimed executive privilege to withhold over 15,000 documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, including nearly 20 emails sent between Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife.

White House fence jumper charged with assault
WASHINGTON (AP) — The 23-year-old Maryland man who climbed over the White House fence Wednesday night has been charged with felonies for assaulting two police dogs and making threats, the Secret Service said Thursday. Dominic Adesanya of Bel Air, Maryland, is in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for previous outstanding warrants, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said. […]
President Obama, unpaid bills and the curious editing of the White House transcript
President Obama, some unpaid bills and a curiously “inaudible” section of the White House recording of a speech — that’s how all good stories start, right? While at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Chicago, Obama cracked a joke about the “unpaid bills” at his home. The joke was reported by the White House Press […]
Secrecy shrouds how the Obamas cook their chicken wings

Now it seems the Obamas are tight-lipped even about their eating habits.

Congress

Justin Amash envisions a libertarian Congress

Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian congressman from Michigan, knows that Congress is far from libertarian. But someday, he thinks that might change.

Rand Paul: The GOP's image ‘sucks’

Rand Paul didn’t mince words about the GOP.

Small college's students thrown into 2014 election

Young people tend not to engage much in the humdrum local politics that go into midterm elections. But what if it’s happening literally in their own backyard?

GOP senator: 'Sorry the government's so f***ed'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made some self-deprecating jokes and colorful remarks about the state of the government during a recent private gathering, per a recording provided to CNN by South Carolina Democrats.

Top lawmaker's Ebola claim

A leading House Republican says he is aware of information that points to the United States eventually receiving non-U.S. Ebola patients for treatment.