Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), great American, is leaving Congress in January to lead the Heritage Foundation, my favorite conservative think tank. Jim DeMint, often called “The Standard bearer” of the conservative tea party movement in America and “Conservative King-maker”, is resigning from the United States Senate at the end of the year. You can read his resignation statement here. He is replacing the retiring Ed Feulner, who has been the Heritage Foundation’s President since 1977. So who will replace him and what are the implications for the conservative, tea party movement?
DeMint, is much loved by tea party people, often clashing with GOP leadership which in my opinion, is a good thing. He was reelected to a second term in 2010 and is a vocal advocate for term limits in Congress (yes please!). He had already pledged not to seek a third term. Jim DeMint will leave before the new Congress is sworn in next month. Frankly, I think Erick Erickson says it best when he describes what Jim DeMint has meant to the conservative movement:
“Without Jim DeMint we would most likely not presently have in the United States Senate Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, Ron Johnson, and Ted Cruz. We would not have a Republican establishment that now worries conservatives might actually primary them.
Without Jim DeMint we would still have a conservative movement that is part and parcel the Republican Party in name, word, and deed. DeMint showed the Republican Party can be challenged from within and that conservatism can be distinctly voiced from within the party moving it right, not moving with it.”
Some conservatives aren’t happy about Senator DeMint’s move from Senate to Heritage; hoping rather to see DeMint act as a conservative leader in the Senate for the next four years, especially with Democrats taking a bigger majority after this past election. I certainly see that concern. But none the less, it’s no secret that he spent much more time on grassroots advocacy and campaigns than he did on legislating. His work with the Republican Senate Conference was transformational for the conservative movement.
The next steps will be that South Carolina’s Governor, Nikki Haley (R) will appoint an interim Senator until the 2014 election when Sen. Lindsey Graham’s term is also up. She will certainly choose a Republican and among the Congressmen she could appoint are Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney and Trey Gowdy, with Scott being DeMint’s preferred choice. He would be the only African American in the Senate.
Personally, I believe Jim DeMint has a plan, with his move to the Heritage Foundation, to use his conservative superpowers for good and not evil. He is one smart cookie. South Carolina will keep a conservative in this Senate seat. And at The Heritage Foundation, DeMint will have the opportunity to educate and advocate conservatism to the American people without the constraints of a Senator. I really like how John Hayward defines this move:
“Conservatism is larger than Jim DeMint and Ed Feulner. But their shared legacies of expanding conservatism within the intellectual and political framework of the GOP just got stronger and more entrenched because of this bold and brilliant move. The Heritage Foundation Board should be commended for what, at this time in relations between the Republican Party and conservative movement, can honestly be considered a brave and genus move.”
Jim DeMint, Leader of the Resistance.