South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint will replace Ed Feulner as president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. DeMint will leave his post as South Carolina’s junior senator in early January to take control of the Washington think tank, which has an annual budget of about $80 million.
Sen. DeMint’s departure means that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will name a successor, who will have to run in a special election in 2014. In that year, both Mr. DeMint’s replacement and Sen. Lindsey Graham will be running for reelection in South Carolina.
That’s fantastic news for Lindsey Graham, as any conservative Republican who was contemplating challenging him in the primary may either be picked by Haley as the interim senator, and/or challenge the interim senator in the other primary instead.
Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, issued the following statement:
“Jim is not just a colleague; he is a friend and a mentor, and his departure will be a tremendous loss for the U.S. Senate and for the conservative movement. In eight years, he has personally led the effort to change the composition of the Senate for the better, and provided consistent and principled leadership in the fight for liberty and limited government. He will be missed. I’m confident he will continue to play an important role in the ongoing public debate about the future of this country, and I wish him the best in his new position.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which DeMint founded, responds:
“Senator Jim DeMint has been one of the strongest voices in Congress for American taxpayers and we thank him for his outstanding service to this nation,” said SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins. “Senator DeMint has consistently fought for conservative policies and he’s helped elect a new generation of conservatives who will continue this legacy.“We fully support Senator DeMint’s decision to lead The Heritage Foundation. As a citizen legislator, he was set to leave the Senate at the end of this term, but this new role puts him in a powerful position to fight for conservative principles for many years to come. And we’re confident Governor Haley will select a good replacement who will continue DeMint’s principled leadership in the Senate. This is a win-win for the conservative movement.“
Senator DeMint founded the Senate Conservatives Fund and helped it raise over $25 million to help elect eight outstanding candidates to the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012. These leaders include Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) as well as Senators-elect Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Deb Fischer (R-NE).
DeMint cut his formal ties to SCF earlier this year, making it a non-affiliated, multi-candidate PAC. SCF will carry on DeMint’s vision by working to elect even more principled leaders to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and beyond.