12/6/2012 12:32:00 PM US Sen. DeMint resigns to head conservative group
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a favorite among tea party activists who has backed challenges to centrist veterans he didn’t view as conservative enough, said today he was resigning to take the helm of a conservative think tank.
The South Carolina lawmaker said in a statement he was stepping down to become president of the Heritage Foundation. His office said he would take the new job effective Jan. 1.
DeMint was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and easily re-elected six years later. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives 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 said in a statement. DeMint was unavailable for comment, his office said.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint DeMint’s successor. She didn’t immediately signal whom she might choose, or whether she would appoint herself. Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey says the attention should be on DeMint.
“Our state’s loss is the Heritage Foundation’s gain,” Haley said in a statement.
DeMint’s former state director, Luke Byars, said the senator’s new role would allow him to effect change outside the U.S. Capitol. In the fall election, Democrats strengthened their hand in the Senate.
DeMint, who previously ran a marketing firm, thought conservatives didn’t do a good job communicating their message in the presidential race, Byars said.