U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican and Tea Party favourite from South Carolina, will leave the Senate to become the president of the Heritage Foundation, The Wall Street Journal reported.He will leave the Senate in January, before the new Congress is set to be in session. His departure means that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint a successor until a special election is held in 2014.
DeMint, who entered the Senate in 2005, has been one of Republicans’ most outspoken critics on the party’s leadership. Most recently, he slammed House Speaker John Boehner’s plan for a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, calling it “$800 billion tax hike that will destroy American jobs.”
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas. No organisation is better equipped to lead this fight and I believe my experience in public office as well as in the private sector as a business owner will help Heritage become even more effective in the years to come.”
CNN’s Peter Hamby reported that DeMint wants Rep. Tim Scott to be his replacement.
More on DeMint’s reasoning for taking the Heritage position from the WSJ:
In an interview preceding the succession announcement, Sen. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularise conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. “This is an urgent time,” the senator said, “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.”
Heritage Chairman of the Board Thomas A. Saunders said in a statement today that DeMint will “lead Heritage to even greater success.”
“Jim DeMint has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy,” Saunders said. “His passion for rigorous research, his dedication to the principles of our nation’s founding, and his ability to translate policy ideas into action make him an ideal choice to lead Heritage to even greater success.”
In a statement, the conservative Club for Growth congratulated DeMint on his move:
“Senator DeMint has done more to advance the cause of freedom and liberty in Congress than anyone else since his election,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said. “Senator DeMint is a champion of economic freedom, a defender of free markets, and one of the strongest allies the Club for Growth has had in the United States Senate. We wish him nothing but the best in his new role at Heritage.”