Washington, DC — Senator Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina who helped incite the Tea Party movement, will leave the Senate to become president of theHeritage Foundation, a conservative research group.
Senator Jim DeMint, speaking at a Tea Party convention in his home state of South Carolina last year, has announced that he will leave the Senate to lead a conservative group.
“It’s been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in United States Senate for the past eight years,” said Mr. DeMint in a statement. “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.
The departure of Mr. DeMint — who has fashioned himself into a bit of a kingmaker for conservative Republicans, often at the expense of his own Republican colleagues — will require Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, a Republican, to name a successor who would then run to maintain the seat in a special election in 2014, when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from the state, will be up for re-election.
Mr. Graham told a local radio station Thursday that when Mr. DeMint, whom he called “irreplaceable in many ways” told him the news, he said “don’t tell me what you’re about to tell me.”
Mr. DeMint will depart the Senate in January.
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” he said. “I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas. No organization 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.”
Mr. DeMint replaces Edwin J. Feulner, 71, who will continue part-time as chairman of the foundation’s Asian Studies Center.