Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint quitting Senate to run conservative think tank

Updated
File Photo: Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC, speaks during an address to the 39th Conservative Political Action Committee February 9, 2012 at a hotel in Washington, DC
File Photo: Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC, speaks during an address to the 39th Conservative Political Action Committee February 9, 2012 at a hotel in Washington, DC
- by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images File

Sen. Jim DeMint, perhaps the most prominent voice for the Tea Party in Congress, will step down to lead the Heritage Foundation, his office announced Thursday morning.

“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, 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.”

The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, has played a key role in developing conservative policy ideas and pushing for their implementation. DeMint, who will take over in April, replaces Heritage’s long-time president, Ed Feulner.

“Jim DeMint has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy,” Heritage chairman Thomas Saunders said in a statement.  “His passion for rigorous research, his dedication to the principles of our nation’s founding, and his ability to translate policy ideas into action make him an ideal choice to lead Heritage to even greater success.”

Since his election in 2004, DeMint has been a key conservative voice in the Senate, and founded the chamber’s Tea Party caucus. In recent years, his influence has grown as he’s been joined by other far-right senators, including Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

DeMint’s departure from the Senate means that South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will be empowered to appoint a replacement.

In 2010, Feulner reportedly made $947,999. As a U.S. senator, DeMint currently makes $174,000.

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Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint quitting Senate to run conservative think tank

Updated