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Haley to name Sen. DeMint’s successor

Staff Report
Published Dec. 6, 2012

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint said today he will resign from the Senate in January to become president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

Gov. Nikki Haley will name a successor to fill DeMint’s seat until a special election in 2014, the same year U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham faces re-election. DeMint’s term expires in 2016.

Sen. Jim DeMint
Sen. Jim DeMint

“I want to make two things clear from the outset. No. 1, I will not take the appointment myself,” Haley said in a statement emailed to the press. “No. 2, I will appoint a person who has the same philosophy of government that Jim DeMint and I share. With all the challenges we face as a state and nation, it is essential that the next senator from South Carolina be dedicated to the principles that our state most values.”

DeMint, a conservative Republican from the Upstate, was first elected to the Senate in 2004, after serving three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 2010.

"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,” DeMint said in a news release. “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.”

At the nonprofit foundation, DeMint succeeds Ed Feulner, who helped develop the conservative advocacy group in 1973.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the board's selection," Feulner said in a news release. "Jim DeMint understands that conservative principles and values advance the interests of all Americans — regardless of age, gender, wealth or race. He is firmly committed (to) Heritage's immutable mission: to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish."

Said DeMint: “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 Gov. Haley will select a great replacement.”

Haley released a statement lauding DeMint’s service.

“U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has served South Carolina and the national conservative movement exceptionally well. His voice for freedom and limited government has been a true inspiration. On a personal level, I value Jim’s leadership and friendship. Our state’s loss is the Heritage Foundation’s gain. I wish Jim and Heritage all the best in continuing our shared commitment to America’s greatness.”

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy called on Haley to consider S.C. congressmen Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Duncan or Joe Wilson for the post.

“I know Gov. Nikki Haley will make the decision that is best for South Carolina, and I pray the Lord will give her wisdom,” Gowdy said. “There are scores of talented women and men in South Carolina who are qualified to be considered. I hope she will consider my four congressional colleagues Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Duncan or Joe Wilson.” 

Scott, a Lowcountry Republican, said: “I first want to thank Sen. DeMint for the tremendous work he has done on behalf of South Carolina and the nation. His commitment to conservative principles leaves a true legacy, and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know and work with him over the past two years. Looking forward, Gov. Haley will now appoint a new senator, and I know she will make the right choice both for South Carolina and the nation.”

DeMint was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 after owning an advertising and market research company for 20 years. DeMint left the House after limiting himself to three terms.

"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,” DeMint said.