Jim DeMint leaving Senate; Tim Scott rumored as potential replacement
[This post has been updated]
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will leave the U.S. Senate before the start of the January session.
DeMint, a fiscal conservative who has been at odds with House Speaker John Boehner over his willingness to compromise with the president on tax hikes, will leave to replace Ed Feulner as president of the Heritage Foundation. The Wall Street Journal reports:
In an interview preceding the succession announcement, Sen. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. “This is an urgent time,” the senator said, “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.” Mr. DeMint, who was a market researcher before he entered politics, said he plans to take the Heritage Foundation’s traditional research plus that of think tanks at the state level and “translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work.” He said, “We want to figure out what works at the local and state level” and give those models national attention.
Mr. DeMint, an active conservative partisan often at odds with his party’s leadership, says he will “protect the integrity of Heritage’s research and not politicize the policy component. Heritage is not just another grassroots political group.”
DeMint, who has been seen as a potential dealmaker in the Senate, recently drew some attention by declining to rule out a 2016 presidential bid in an interview with McClatchy.
RedState’s Erick Erickson has extensive coverage of DeMint’s retirement at Human Events.
Update: Was DeMint a river to his people? OpenSecrets reports that the senator’s 2010 net worth of $65,000 made him the fourth-poorest member of the world’s greatest deliberative body.
Update: Gov. Nikki Haley will name a successor for DeMint, and scuttlebutt is already settling around Rep. Tim Scott, a Charleston native who entered a crowded Republican race in 2010 and soundly defeated Paul Thurmond in a run-off primary before winning a nearly two-thirds landslide against Ben Frasier in the general election. Scott has proved to be a maverick in Congress, the first African-American elected from the Palmetto State since reconstruction, a Congressional Black Caucus refusenik, and a staunch tax foe with strong Tea Party inflections. Mike Flynn at Breitbart.com, DailyCaller’s Matt K. Lewis, and Human Events blogger John Hayward are all speculating about a Scott appointment, and CNN (via Twitter) reports rumors that Scott is DeMint’s own choice for the seat.
Here’s what DeMint had to say about Scott during the 2010 runoff: “Tim is making a strong statement against wasteful Washington spending. It takes courage to fight the culture of earmarks and I commend him for it. Those who come to Washington believing it’s their job to bring home the bacon become part of the problem the moment they take the oath of office.”
Update: Club for Growth comment:
Senator DeMint has done more to advance the cause of freedom and liberty in Congress than anyone else since his election. Senator DeMint is a champion of economic freedom, a defender of free markets, and one of the strongest allies the Club for Growth has had in the United States Senate. We wish him nothing but the best in his new role at Heritage.
Update: More praise for DeMint from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Group:
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.
Update: Video of DeMint’s address to Heritage:
Update: Heritage’s Lachlan Markay gives a none-too-hard-hitting writeup of DeMint’s address to 200 staffers.
Update: Not everybody is being kind to the outgoing senator. ThinkProgress writer Scott Keyes lists “11 Reasons You’re Glad” DeMint is leaving the Senate. In a sign of ascendance for the economic left, only four of Keyes’ reasons are cultural. Most of his objections have to do with DeMint’s opposition to excessive spending, Obamacare and the political power of organized labor.