Key pro-life Sen. Jim DeMint, one of the top conservatives in the U.S. Senate, surprised political observers today with the announcement that he is resigning from the Senate to take over at the helm of the Heritage Foundation.
DeMint has been one of the solid pro-life lawmakers in the Senate, where pro-abortion Democrats currently control the chamber. He has been counted on for not only votes but his leadership on pro-life bills and amendments. DeMint, from South Carolina, announced that he will leave the Senate at the beginning of January to become the next president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy group that takes a pro-life position on abortion.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will name DeMint’s successor, to serve until 2014, at a special election will be held for the seat. DeMint’s replacement and Sen. Lindsey Graham will both be seeking re-election in the state.
DeMint has also been active in helping conservative Congressional candidates and was the first to endorse Marco Rubio of Florida in his 2010 Senate bid.
“It’s been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in 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,” he said.
DeMint added: “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. 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.”
“I’m humbled to follow in the footsteps of Ed Feulner, who built the most important conservative institution in the nation. He has been a friend and mentor for years and I am honored to carry on his legacy of fighting for freedom,” he continued. “My constituents know that being a Senator was never going to be my career. I came to Congress as a citizen legislator and I’ve always been determined to leave it as citizen legislator. South Carolina has a deep bench of conservative leaders and I know Governor Haley will select a great replacement.”
“One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in the Senate is work with the grassroots to help elect a new generation of leaders who have the courage to fight for the principles of freedom that make this country so great. I’m confident these senators will continue the legacy of conservative leaders before them,” he said.
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The lawmaker will leave his seat as of December 31 and Heritage says it is excited about the senator joining forces.
“Jim DeMint has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy. 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,” Thomas Saunders, the group’s chairman of the board, said in a statement.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan responded, saying, “There is no better choice than Jim DeMint to lead this great organization. It is disappointing to lose his strong voice in the Senate, but I look forward to his continued conservative leadership at the helm of The Heritage Foundation. The folks at Heritage are an indispensable ideas factory for conservatives in Congress. South Carolina’s loss is the country’s gain.”
DeMint was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 after owning a successful advertising and market research company for twenty years. DeMint left the House after limiting himself to three terms and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2010.