From NY Times
With a disappointing election in his rear view mirror and a budget compromise he could never swallow on the horizon, Senator Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina who helped ignite the Tea Party movement, is leaving the Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group.
Just two years into his second term, Mr. DeMint, 61, whom many in his own party partly blame for Republicans failing to win Senate control two elections in a row, announced on Thursday that he has opted for a platform and a payday that the United States Senate could never provide him.
His resignation also comes as Tea Party followers in Congress face new pressure to pull back from their uncompromising views in the election’s aftermath. He will depart with the start of the new Congress in January.
Come January, the occasional kingmaker, conservative hero and filibuster lover — he once forced the Senate to stay in town for a Saturday vote that he then chose to skip — will find himself with a space to continue his efforts to push the Republican Party to the right from the outside rather than the inside.
His imminent departure to head a well-financed organization with significant heft in conservative circles will allow him to oppose even more loudly a big budget deal that includes higher tax revenues sought by President Obama. Mr. DeMint has been a loud Republican critic of a deal proffered by House Speaker John A. Boehner to address the impending fiscal crisis by generating at least $800 billion in new tax revenue.
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” Mr. DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join the Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”
In a parting shot — or perhaps warning flare — Mr. DeMint on Thursday suggested to Rush Limbaugh that Mr. Boehner might need to watch his back. When asked if Mr. Boehner was forcing him out, Mr. DeMint replied, “It might work a little bit the other way, Rush.”
The job switch should have substantial financial benefits for Mr. DeMint, whose 2010 net worth, $65,000, was among the lowest in the Senate. Edwin J. Feulner, the current head of the foundation, in 2010 earned $1,098,612 in total compensation.
A hero to many Republicans for his campaign fund-raising abilities, Mr. DeMint frustrated Senate colleagues by eagerly backing Republican candidates like Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware in 2010, and Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri this year, contenders who proved too conservative to be elected statewide. Those losses set back Mr. DeMint’s effort to bring the fiery conservatism of the House to the Senate, though he did have a hand in electing Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who takes office next month.
“The truth is that Jim DeMint’s philosophy on everything from Medicare to women’s reproductive rights, as embodied by his handpicked candidates for Congress, has been rejected by voters,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who headed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year. Privately, so as not to inflame him, several Republicans also said Mr. DeMint’s departure would produce few tears among them.
Mr. DeMint’s leadership PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, spent $5.48 million in the 2010 and 2012 elections, and out of 27 races that it stepped into, his preferred candidate won either the primary or general election 8 times.
The costly Senate defeats, as well as Mr. DeMint’s proclivity for gumming up legislation on the floor, and his virtually nonexistent legislative productivity, stunted his chances for leadership in the Senate.
Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina, a Republican, will now be compelled to appoint a successor who would then run to maintain the seat in a special election in 2014, when Senator Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from the state and a fellow Republican, will also be up for re-election. Aides said that Ms. Haley was surprised by Mr. DeMint’s announcement.
South Carolina is a small state, politically speaking, and almost every Republican member of the House delegation, many of them close to Mr. DeMint politically and personally, are possible fill-ins.
Representative Tim Scott is a popular freshman from Charleston who is well known around the state from having served on Charleston County Council for 13 years and in the State House of Representatives for two years. The first black Republican to serve his state in Congress since Reconstruction, Mr. Scott could give Republicans a high-profile black member of the Senate, which has no black members from either party. Mr. Scott, who shares a political consultant with Ms. Haley, is believed to have other ambitions, including a possible run for governor.
While a fellow Republican freshman, Mick Mulvaney, might also like the job, he does not have a close relationship to Ms. Haley in a job and state where such ties matter, and the delegation is expected to coalesce around Mr. Scott. What’s more, there are many Republicans in the state who would love to have a run at Mr. Scott’s seat.
Ms. Haley, who said that she would not appoint herself, is most likely to frame her choice around her own re-election efforts. She is a ripe target for a conservative primary challenge.
“Our state’s loss is the Heritage Foundation’s gain,” Ms. Haley said in a statement. “I wish Jim and Heritage all the best in continuing our shared commitment to America’s greatness.”
The distraction of a new seat may well benefit Mr. Graham, who has taken some positions on immigration and climate change that have drawn fire in his very conservative state. On the Senate floor Thursday, Mr. Graham said that his state was losing “a great strong conservative voice,” and that “on a personal level I’ve lost a colleague and friend.” Their relationship, he said, at times was “playing the good cop, the bad cop, but we were always trying to work together.”
The Senate's loss is also their gain. Jim DeMint is an asshole who has done nothing but obstruct President Obama's plans to get American back on track. This is also the same man who said unmarried women and gays should not be allowed to teach.
Sarah Palin endorsed this pathetic man back in 2010. Yep she taught him well.
Over at the Pee Zoo they are clamoring for Sarah to move to South Carolina, take up residency so Gov Haley can name her to the vacant Senate seat. Sorry PeeZooers, SC hates Palin too.