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DeMint will exit Senate to head conservative group

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 10:58 AM
Last updated 6:47 PM
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COLUMBIA — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a tea party favorite who has bucked party leaders to back challenges to centrist veterans he didn’t view as conservative enough, said Thursday that he was resigning to take the helm of a conservative think tank.

The South Carolina lawmaker’s office said his resignation is effective Jan. 1.

DeMint was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and easily re-elected six years later. He served in the U.S. House for three terms.

“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight. I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas,” DeMint, 61, said in a statement.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint DeMint’s Senate successor. She said she will not appoint herself to the seat and promised to appoint someone who would fight for conservative ideas.

Haley said she had no timetable to announce her pick but that she will not drag the decision out. Haley didn’t mention whether she is supporting anyone specifically.

Whomever Haley appoints would face a special election in 2014 to finish DeMint’s term, which expires in 2016. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham faces re-election in 2014.

DeMint’s former state director, Luke Byars, said the senator’s new role would allow him to effect change outside the U.S. Capitol.

DeMint, who previously ran a marketing firm, thought conservatives didn’t do a good job communicating their message in the presidential race, Byars said.

“He knows how to communicate,” said Byars, a political consultant. “This is a vehicle for him to push and pull on conservative issues on a national stage, to get the attention of folks inside Washington. This lets him go back into something he loves. He’s always been an idea guy.”

South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said he’s stunned by the decision and said DeMint’s resignation will have a ripple effect on the state GOP leadership.

Connelly said DeMint redefined how the U.S. Senate worked, taking principled stands against party leaders.

“He’s been a conservative rock star,” Connelly said. “I’m sure the conservatives in South Carolina will be heartbroken. DeMint’s been an icon for a lot of us in the conservative movement.”

DeMint mounted his first Senate bid as a conservative with a soft side – he had a memorable commercial where his young adult daughters kept interrupting him to tout his conservative beliefs.

But when he got to the Senate, DeMint stayed right. He said plenty of times he would rather stand with a committed minority than a big-tent majority.

DeMint put his money where his mouth is, using a political action committee to back conservative Senate candidates such as Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and, after her primary, Sharron Angle in Nevada, who were ridiculed for their out-of-mainstream beliefs and soundly beaten in the general election.

But DeMint also posted wins. He was one of the first Republicans to back Marco Rubio’s successful campaign for the Senate seat in Florida.

DeMint is associated with, but no longer runs, the Senate Conser­vatives Fund, which ranked sitting senators. He formally cut ties with the political action committee he founded earlier this year.

He helped raise more than $25 million for the fund for the 2010 and 2012 elections.

DeMint has had other successes. He opposed longtime Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, just before the veteran Republican, facing a challenge from the right, switched to become a Democrat. DeMint also broke with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Republican leader’s backyard to support tea party favorite Rand Paul in the Kentucky Senate primary. Both Paul and Pat Toomey, the conservative who won the GOP nomination in Penn­sylvania, were elected in 2010.

In other cases, DeMint’s silence has been telling. He pointedly refused to aid once-popular Republican Bob Bennett, a three-term senator who was defeated by conservative voters in Utah’s GOP convention.

DeMint’s positions have earned him rankings as one of the most conservative senators. He supported partially privatizing Social Security and installing a flat sales tax to replace income taxes. He once suggested gays and unwed pregnant women should not teach in public schools.

On Thursday, McConnell thanked DeMint for his uncompromising service in the chamber.

“Jim helped provide a powerful voice for conservative ideas in a town where those principles are too often hidden beneath business as usual,” he said in a statement.

DeMint easily won re-election in 2010 without almost no in-state campaigning. He defeated Democrat Alvin Greene, an unemployed political unknown, with 61 percent of the vote, as he focused on Senate races outside South Carolina.

Comments (19) Add comment
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itsanotherday1
45441
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itsanotherday1 12/06/12 - 12:05 pm
6
3
I hate to hear that.

DeMint is one of the remaining true conservatives.

YeCats
11267
Points
YeCats 12/06/12 - 12:28 pm
6
1
Obviously lining up future

Obviously lining up future aspirations. And/Or jumping while he's still has a chute.

Young Fred
17860
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Young Fred 12/06/12 - 12:34 pm
5
3
YeCats

Or, he could be tired of fighting the two parties - Rinos and Democrats, and decided to take a position where he had more influence.

hwduncan
57
Points
hwduncan 12/06/12 - 12:37 pm
1
0
Who will Governor Haley appoint?

Who will Nikki Haley Appoint as Jim DeMint's interim replacement?

Herself
Tim Scott
Tom Davis
Mick Mulvaney
Michael Haley
Henry McMaster
Catherine Templeton

Young Fred
17860
Points
Young Fred 12/06/12 - 12:48 pm
5
3
Tim Scott would be a good

Tim Scott would be a good choice. Normally I'd say he doesn't really have enough experience. But considering, and in relation to Obama's experience when he first ran for president, Governor Haley could appoint Aiken County's head dog catcher to the Senate Seat.

YeCats
11267
Points
YeCats 12/06/12 - 12:55 pm
4
0
Young Fred

per "future aspirations"? I thinking rats and sinking ships.

We'll be fine afa who gets appointed. I wish 99 others would take his lead.

KSL
134579
Points
KSL 12/06/12 - 12:50 pm
2
3
Young Fred

Correct

allhans
24011
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allhans 12/06/12 - 02:31 pm
3
2
Sen. DeMint possibly thinks

Sen. DeMint possibly thinks he can do more for the conservative cause at Heritage. I wish him well. His services are needed and appreciated.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 12/06/12 - 03:13 pm
0
1
I'd like
Unpublished

to see harry reid and chuckles schumer jump off of a cliff, with their boss obama and I'm not referring to a "fiscal" one either.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/06/12 - 03:30 pm
2
1
amen on the other 99 yecats

amen on the other 99 yecats

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 12/06/12 - 08:02 pm
0
1
Yep- another rat jumping ship
Unpublished

Yep- another rat jumping ship because his values don't match the majority of Americans.. so he joins a super PAC where he can get paid more money. Just another slime-bag

ken8375309
1667
Points
ken8375309 12/06/12 - 10:15 pm
4
3
I like Jim DeMint.. He is a

I like Jim DeMint.. He is a true fiscal conservative and a good man. He will be missed.. I hope that Tom Davis is chosen to take his place... Now if only SC could get rid of Lindsey Graham..

Young Fred
17860
Points
Young Fred 12/07/12 - 06:17 am
4
3
GiantsAllDay, DeMint, like

GiantsAllDay,

DeMint, like the Tparty fight for fiscal sanity, why does that theory frighten and enrage the left so much? Why, does anybody that questions uncontrolled and unaccountable spending incur the wraith of lobotomites?

Young Fred
17860
Points
Young Fred 12/07/12 - 08:26 am
1
1
I'm thinking it may be a good

I'm thinking it may be a good idea if all those in favor of fiscal sanity resingned in mass. Let the Dims and Rhinos run things as they see fit. After all, that's what the voting majority wanted, right?

A whole new party could be started that champions individual rights and opposes totalitarianism. This would give a convenient target for the Dims and media, while giving hope to people that have a clue. It's a win, win, proposition.

justthefacts
22731
Points
justthefacts 12/07/12 - 08:41 am
1
1
Young Fred on to something

If it wasn't for the consequesnces on the innocent youth of the future, I would agree with you. Let the nutz sleep in the bed they are making.

Young Fred
17860
Points
Young Fred 12/07/12 - 09:07 am
1
1
justthefacts

Yes, there is that problem. If I weren't trying to make this world a better place for my offspring, I'd feel like a self-absorbed slackard. I was just venting, peeing in the wind can be exhausting at times.

justthefacts
22731
Points
justthefacts 12/07/12 - 09:14 am
1
1
Unfortunately

As the saying goes, sometimes you have to hit bottom before you can start the climb up.

seenitB4
90859
Points
seenitB4 12/07/12 - 10:23 am
0
0
Graham

Why don't yall like L Graham....??

KSL
134579
Points
KSL 12/07/12 - 11:14 am
0
1
Too much of a rino.

Too much of a rino.

Jake
32893
Points
Jake 12/07/12 - 12:33 pm
1
0
Greener pastures

Maybe DeMint is seeing the writing on the wall in South Carolina. In a recent poll published on the AC a couple of days ago, less than 10% of South Carolinians identified themselves with the Tea Party.

KSL
134579
Points
KSL 12/07/12 - 03:44 pm
0
1
Meaningless. They still voted

Meaningless. They still voted red.

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