Sen. Jim DeMint, the tea party stalwart of South Carolina, will resign from the Senate in January to head the Heritage Foundation.
The Wall Street Journal reported that DeMint will replace Ed Feulner, the outgoing president of the think tank. Feulner will go on to serve as Chancellor of the Heritage Foundation and Chairman of the Asian Studies Center. He will stay on as President until April, working with DeMint as President-elect, and DeMint will officially take over on April 3 to “ensure a smooth transition,” according to the Heritage Foundation’s blog.
DeMint had already announced that he would not run for a third term in 2016.
The senator told the Wall Street Journal that he was taking the new post because it would give him a platform to spread conservative ideas to a wider audience.
“This is an urgent time because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections,” he said.
He said he would look at Heritage’s own research as well as that of state level think tanks and work to “translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work.”
“We want to figure out what works at the local and state level and give those models national attention,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
“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,” DeMint said in a statement.
“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,” he added. “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.”
DeMint’s immediate successor in the Senate will be appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley. A special election will be held in 2014.
“South Carolina has a deep bench of conservative leaders and I know Governor Haley will select a great replacement,” DeMint said in the statement.
South Carolina’s other senator, Lindsey Graham, comes up for re-election in 2014 and was expected to have a primary challenge; a special election for DeMint’s seat is likely to divert attention from that.