This morning, Jim DeMint announced that he will be leaving the U.S. Senate to head the Heritage Foundation. A press release from the Senator states:
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced that he will leave the Senate at the beginning of January to become the next president of The Heritage Foundation, the largest and most respected conservative think tank in America.
"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.
"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. 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.
“I’m humbled to follow in the footsteps of Ed Feulner, who built the most important conservative institution in the nation. He has been a friend and mentor for years and I am honored to carry on his legacy of fighting for freedom.
"My constituents know that being a Senator was never going to be my career. I came to Congress as a citizen legislator and I’ve always been determined to leave it as citizen legislator. South Carolina has a deep bench of conservative leaders and I know Governor Haley will select a great replacement.
"One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in the Senate is work with the grassroots to help elect a new generation of leaders who have the courage to fight for the principles of freedom that make this country so great. I’m confident these senators will continue the legacy of conservative leaders before them."
You can read the entire press release here.
We wish all the best to Jim DeMint in his new role.
Update: Governor Palin sent out the following tweets regarding the news.
Update II by Doug: Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard has more on the benefits of Tim Scott as a replacement for Senator DeMint:
With Republican Jim DeMint’s resignation from the Senate, Republicans now have a chance to take a bold and politically beneficial step by making Congressman Tim Scott the new senator from South Carolina.
Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will appoint DeMint’s replacement once he resigns in April to take over the Heritage Foundation in Washington. The appointee would then run in 2014 for the final two years of DeMint’s term, set to expire in 2016.
Scott would be the first African American Republican in the Senate since Ed Brooke of Massachusetts. But Scott is no Ed Brooke, a liberal Republican who was defeated in 1978 by Democrat Paul Tsongas.
Scott is a reliable conservative. He was first elected in 2010 in the House district in the Charleston area—one of the most conservative districts in the country. In the House, he declined to join the liberal Congressional Black Caucus, which consists entirely of Democrats.
In Congress, Scott has become an influential member and, if he doesn’t jump to the Senate, is likely to move up the leadership ladder among House Republicans. Besides his conservatism, he is known for his likeability and skill in developing personal relationships with other House members.
As a senator, Scott would be highly visible. He would counter Democratic claims that Republicans are, at best, indifferent to minorities. His opposition to Democratic initiatives would draw national attention.
More here. Readers may recall that Tim Scott was one of Governor Palin’s picks in 2010, having endorsed him in the primary:
I’m very proud to add my support to Tim Scott’s campaign to represent South Carolina’s 1st congressional district. Tim has a remarkable success story. He grew up in poverty and was raised by a single-mom who struggled to provide. With help from a mentor and his brave mom, Tim learned to appreciate the value of hard work and American opportunity. He went on to become a business owner and has served in public office with integrity on the county and state level.
Tim is a pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-development, Commonsense Conservative who’s been endorsed by the Club for Growth because of his solid commitment to the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility.
He will represent the Palmetto State with distinction in DC, so I encourage you to vote for Tim in his run-off election next Tuesday, June 22nd. Please visit Tim’s website at www.votetimscott.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
– Sarah Palin
With Tim Scott being Senator DeMint’s choice, it will be difficult for Nikki Haley to appoint someone else, as the WaPo’s Philip Rucker notes:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has told state Republican officials that he wants Rep. Tim Scott to become his successor, according to a South Carolina Republican operative with knowledge of the conversations.
“Jim DeMint has said he wants Tim Scott — period,” the operative said. “The ball is in Governor Haley’s court. Does she go with the status quo and appoint Scott? I think it would be hard not to.”
This should be a no-brainer for Haley. In addition to picking a constitutional conservative in Tim Scott, she could regain some of the credibility she lost with the Tea Party when she endorsed Mitt Romney. We’ll see if she does the right thing.