DeMint to resign Senate seat, take over Heritage FoundationPolicyPolitics

One of the Senate’s leading conservative voices will resign his seat next month and take up the presidency of the Heritage Foundation:

South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint will replace Ed Feulner as president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. DeMint will leave his post as South Carolina’s junior senator in early January to take control of the Washington think tank, which has an annual budget of about $80 million.

Sen. DeMint’s departure means that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will name a successor, who will have to run in a special election in 2014. In that year, both Mr. DeMint’s replacement and Sen. Lindsey Graham will be running for reelection in South Carolina.

Mr. DeMint was reelected to a second term in 2010. The 61-year-old senator had announced earlier that he would not seek a third term.

Mr. Feulner, who is 71 and planned to step down, is to be named chancellor of Heritage, a new position, and will continue in a part-time capacity as chairman of the foundation’s Asian Studies Center.

In an interview preceding the succession announcement, Sen. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. “This is an urgent time,” the senator said, “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.” Mr. DeMint, who was a market researcher before he entered politics, said he plans to take the Heritage Foundation’s traditional research plus that of think tanks at the state level and “translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work.” He said, “We want to figure out what works at the local and state level” and give those models national attention.

Interesting. It also begs the question of which other old Heritage hands will leave before DeMint takes charge. And while it’s a good move for the organization, it will be a distinct loss for the nation.

  • James Cohen

    This is a major victory for conservative and liberty minded Republicans. Heritage will re emerge as an incubator of conservative ideas for a new generation of congressional leaders. I see this as a very positive development.

    • NormLeahy

      We shall see. The real fun, though, will be had over who replaces him in the Senate. Gov. Haley could appoint herself, but that would require her to resign her office and then trust that the LtG would name her to the post, or whether it will be someone like Rep. Tim Scott from Charleston.

      • MD Russ

        The most interesting aspect of this move is that it will raise the average IQ of both the US Senate and the Heritage Foundation. And that is what I see as a positive development.

        • Brian Benghazi Campbell

          Hey russ,
          Your bridge called. It is missing it’s troll.

          • MD Russ


            Congratulations. That was half-witty.

          • MD Russ

            BTW, Brian. If you think that I am a troll, then I am in good company. Go read what Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz have to say about DeMint’s transition to the Heritage Foundation. It isn’t pretty.

          • J.R. Hoeft

            Lots of concern about DeMint moving on. Does this mean we – conservatives – have given up on the Senate for the next two? four years? Not pretty. And MD is a regular – hardly a troll. Definitely a “friend of the show.”

          • MD Russ

            Not to worry, JR. As I posted on the Sanford thread, the favorite right now is Rep. Tim Scott. He makes DeMint look like a moderate. He is also a rising star in South Carolina politics; he crushed Paul Thurmond, the son of legendary Strom Thurmond, in the Republican primary 70-30 on his way to being elected to Congress. And, unlike that mental midget Jim Clyburn, he was not elected in a minority majority district.

          • Brian W. Schoeneman

            Tim Scott is a good guy – I’ve worked with him since he got to Congress. I like him a lot, and he’d be a good pick.

          • MD Russ


            That tracks with what my friends in South Carolina are saying. He has broad appeal in the Lowcountry. That, coupled with the fact that the state has a Republican female Indian-American governor, shows how far South Carolina has come since the bad old days of racist segregation. And that is also the reason that Mark Sanford remains so popular there–he represents the new Republican Party in the Old South, enlightened on social issues but conservative on fiscal issues. Some Virginia Republicans would do well to go to school on why Republicans in South Carolina are doing so well.

          • NormLeahy

            I gave up on the Senate in 1996, when Hank Brown decided to retire.

          • MD Russ

            Thanks for the reminder, Norm. They just don’t make too many well-educated, principled politicians like Hank Brown. He got my attention when he convinced the CU regents to fire that fraud Ward Churchill. Very gutsy position for a university president to take in opposition to the Faculty Senate.

  • Craig M Kilby

    Probably a great victory for DeMint’s bank account, too.

  • Chris Frashure

    DeMint will likely be far less relevant than he was as senator, and Heritage becomes more of a purely political entity and less of an independent think-tank. Sounds to me like a lose-lose for conservatives who like DeMint.