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Report: Jim DeMint Leaving Senate To Head Heritage Foundation

The Wall Street Journal drops a political bombshell:

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.

DeMint, of course, has been one of the most stalwart conservative voices in the Senate, one that some have even mentioned as a possible Presidential candidate in 2016. His departure comes as something of a surprise to say the least. It also sets up an interesting situation in South Carolina, where speculation was high that Lindsey Graham would face a tough primary fight from the a candidate on the right. With two Senate seats now open in the Palmetto State in 2014, though, that is likely to reduce the pool of candidates that would take on Graham and may end up making him far less vulnerable.

Update: Here’s DeMint’s statement. Contrary to a previous report, which I’ve removed, his retirement does not take effect until the end of the year.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Just asking, how would that work as far as primaries and then the election? Would there be two separate primaries or would Senator Graham run unopposed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    “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.”

    So instead of staying in a public office in a public body that directly or indirectly affects multiple trillions of public dollars, and where with a mere phone call he can set up an interview for himself with media outlets that reach millions of people, instead he’s joining a think tank that nobody on Main Street ever has heard of, much less cares about, possessing of an annual budget that’s less than the annual budgets of individual car dealerships? Okaaaay. Riiiiight.

    Smells to me that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. Could be for sure he’s planning to run for Prez and he doesn’t want to have to be on record on various roll call votes that might come back to haunt him in ’15-’16. Could be that he wanted to replace McConnell and simply is throwing a hissy fit and storming off in a huff. Could be there are ethical skeletons about to be released from their closets. Or some combination of the foregoing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  3. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: instead he’s joining a think tank that nobody on Main Street ever has heard of,

    For all that is holy, Tsar, STOP IT. It’s not funny. It never was funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    @Eric: There WILL be two primaries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. @Eric:

    There would be separate primaries for both Senate seats for both the GOP and the Democrats. What happens to Graham depends on whether anyone ends up challenging him in a primary

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. rudderpedals says:

    Kind of like Sarah Plain resigning the governorship to be a “more effective voice to progress this nation” from the confines of her homebrew TV studio.

    Thus ends another chapter of Profiles in Courage.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  7. Eric says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Thank you.

    The more you know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Geek, Esq. says:

    I guess that whole fiscal negotation thing isn’t going so well for the Tea Party crowd.

    Lindsey Graham has to be relieved–all of the Tea Party energy will be spent trying to become the heir to Demint’s seat and legacy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Two things:
    One – that’s a $1M a year job. Way to cash-in Jim!!!
    Two – It appears the Heritage Foundation is veering sharply right, as DeMint is one of the most radical baggers out there.

    Before the election there was much discussion regarding the direction of the Republican party should Romney lose. Here is an early indicator. Another indicator was the Senate Republicans turning their backs on the disabled and voting down the UN Disabilities Treaty. Clearly Republicans have learned nothing, and are staying on the Express Train to Crazy Town.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. edmondo says:

    Does this have anything to do with the Congress removing the word “lunatic” from federal laws?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  11. wr says:

    Guess I’m old fashioned. I always thought that part of asking for the votes of the people was an implicit promise that if elected, you would serve out your term. Apparently, Republicans feel absolutely no sense of obligation to their constituents, dumping out of their offices when something more profitable comes along.

    To be fair, pseudo-Democrat Jane Harman did this a couple of years ago, so it’s not strictly a Republican thing. Maybe it’s a conservative thing — it’s honorable to serve your country, but far more honorable to cash in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  12. legion says:

    @C. Clavin has it right – this is a massive payday for DeMint. to explain things in small words for guys like the Tsar, DeMint doesn’t give a rat’s backside about public service – being an elected official is nothing other than a means to getting rich for a guy who has no marketable skills other than grifting lunatics & isn’t telegenic enough to be on Fox.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  13. @C. Clavin:

    Another indicator was the Senate Republicans turning their backs on the disabled and voting down the UN Disabilities Treaty.

    Since pretty much everything in the treaty is already part of the ADA, I don’t see how voting against that treaty is “turning your backs on the disabled”. It’s just turning your backs on unelected international organizations meddling in our legal system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13

  14. Scott F. says:

    Personally, I think you’ve buried the lede.

    Heritage Foundation (…) which has an annual budget of about $80 million.

    According to their website, the Heritage Foundation’s mission is “to formulate and promote conservative public policies” to their “primary audiences: members of Congress, key congressional staff members, policymakers in the executive branch, the nation’s news media, and the academic and policy communities.”

    $80M a year to come up with new ways to say “cut taxes and deregulate” and get that spouted by a congressman on TV! Think of all the amazing things that could be done with that kind of money… and then weep.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. CSK says:

    If he’s thinking of running for the presidency in 2016, quitting his elected office isn’t a resume-enhancer. Just ask Sarah Palin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. PJ says:

    The only important question:
    If Stephen Colbert moves back to South Carolina, can he run in both Senate races at the same time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. Gustopher says:

    So, from the standpoint of the Senate, one lock-step-Republican vote will be replaced by another lock-step-Republican vote? Am I missing something, or will this have no effect on anyone’s life other than DeMint’s.

    I suppose anyone who was calling the Senate DeMinty-Fresh would have to stop. Some letterhead will be changed. His staff might be sacked, and only some of them rehired by the non-DeMint.

    Well, I hope he gets a huge salary, and works out how to extract as much wealth from the Heritage Foundation as possible, reducing it to a mere shell of an organization. And some high payed speaking engagements.

    Every dollar he can get into his pockets is one less dollar that can be usefully spent to oppose the things I believe in, so I hope he really cashes in big. (Also, too, I love Sarah Palin)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, Stormy, that treaty was another attempt to put UN bureaucrats in charge of our lives. Thank God you brilliant conservatives have saved us from this dastardly plot to persuade other countries around the world to enact laws like the ADA.

    But then, I’m sure that when the ADA was first proposed, all the good little libertarians were screaming about how it was fascism to force states to put curb cuts in their sidewalks. Ideology first, humanity second — that’s the libertarian way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @ Stormy…
    It was turning their backs on disabled Americans abroad…including wounded soldiers and veterans. It had ZERO to do with anyone meddling in our laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. C. Clavin says:

    If I believed in god I would pray to her that Jim “whack-a-doodle” DeMint runs for President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Andre Kenji says:

    @wr:

    Thank God you brilliant conservatives have saved us from this dastardly plot to persuade other countries around the world to enact laws like the ADA.

    Most countries impose solutions that helps disabled people(Like quotas) that does not impose painful lawsuits on businesses, like ADA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Andre Kenji says:

    @Gustopher:

    Well, I hope he gets a huge salary, and works out how to extract as much wealth from the Heritage Foundation as possible

    No, Bruce Bartlett knows better about Heritage and I imagine that he is going to write about this, but the big point is that a former Senator has contacts that enable them to raise formidable ammounts of money(That´s why they become lobbyists). Heritage budget is going to increase even further.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Fiona says:

    No big loss to the Senate. DeMint was an obstructionist jerk who didn’t give a whit about the good of the country. Unfortunately, he’ll probably be replaced by an almost equally obstructionist jerk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Argon says:

    Run Forrest, run!

    …I mean, ‘Jim’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. David M says:

    Can we draft Richard Mourdock or Todd Akin to run for the seat?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. @C. Clavin:

    It was turning their backs on disabled Americans abroad…including wounded soldiers and veterans. It had ZERO to do with anyone meddling in our laws.

    Point me to one clause in the treaty that would affect how our government treats disabled American abroad that is not already part of federal law?

    This is typical liberal sentimentalism: some puts out a “treaty for disabled people” and you’re for it not because you’ve actually considered it and think anything in it is a good idea, but just because you want to show how noble you are for feeling bad for the disabled and are for it purely because of the title.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  27. MarkedMan says:

    Whatever Jim DeMint is or was, “Conservative” is not part of it. The modern crew of Republicans has virtually no ideology that I can perceive and it is safer to simply say they put the Republican party first and their country a distant second. They view all social interaction as a sport wherein the opposition must be crushed in all things at all times. And they worship “Belief” itself, wherein they pick some arbitrary stories and then strive at all times to show that their belief in those stories is absolute and will never be shaken. Jim DeMint has the social-interaction-as-sport down, and his worship-of-belief-itself is second to none in the party, but I suspect that was his downfall. His pathological need to constantly disparage everyone else as an idiot encompasses even his fellow party members.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Brummagem Joe says:

    Time for DeMint to cash out. I understand he’s being paid around $1 million a year to head this front group for Republican billionaires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Point me to one clause in the treaty that would affect how our government treats disabled American abroad that is not already part of federal law?”

    EXACTLY! This treaty doesn’t let the jackbooted thugs do anything to you that they already can’t. It’s OTHER COUNTRIES agreeing to live up to our standards. But the moron Republicans and the idiot libertarians found that to be an infringement on our wonderfulness.
    And you support them. Good for you.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  30. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “This is typical liberal sentimentalism: some puts out a “treaty for disabled people” and you’re for it not because you’ve actually considered it and think anything in it is a good idea, but just because you want to show how noble you are for feeling bad for the disabled and are for it purely because of the title.”

    Or maybe it’s because my father spent the last 30 years of his life in a wheelchair, so I know how hard foreign travel can be for the disabled.

    In other words, my opinion is based on my life experiences and those of people I’ve met. Which is why you are simply incapable of understanding it except as :iberal sentimentality — because it requires giving a damn about anyone but yourself, which violates every tenet of libertarianism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  31. David M says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Since pretty much everything in the treaty is already part of the ADA, I don’t see how voting against that treaty is “turning your backs on the disabled”. It’s just turning your backs on unelected international organizations meddling in our legal system.

    This is sheer nonsense. If it’s already part of our laws, it can’t be meddling in our legal system. And whether or not something will require us to change isn’t really the only point of an INTERNATIONAL treaty

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  32. Brummagem Joe says:

    @David M:

    This is what these Republican idiots don’t get…..it’s principally directed at bringing everyone else up to our standards. It was a UN initiative therefore it had to be bad even though noted communists like Bob Dole pleaded for its passage. It’s no use trying to reason with these folks they are incapable of reasoning. My fox terrier has more reasoning power than many Republicans in congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  33. @David M:

    If it’s already part of our laws, it can’t be meddling in our legal system.

    Yes it can, because now the interpretation of those laws will be made by UN officials the American people have no hand in selecting rather than by our own courts.

    @Brummagem Joe:

    This is what these Republican idiots don’t get

    Ah yes, because anyone who disagrees with with Jenos wing of the DNC MUST be an idiot. They couldn’t possibly disagree on intelligent grounds.

    it’s principally directed at bringing everyone else up to our standards.

    If it wasn’t directed at the US, than why does it matter whether or not we signed it?

    Bob Dole pleaded for its passage

    Bob Dole has also pleaded for an across the board 15% tax cut. If Bob Dole’s judgement is so great, should we be doing that too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  34. de stijl says:

    Is there something afoot in establishment Republican / Tea Party power dynamics?

    It’s most likely just a money grab for DeMint, but between Armey leaving FreedomWorks in a huff and DeMint retiring, I’m starting to wonder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes it can, because now the interpretation of those laws will be made by UN officials the American people have no hand in selecting rather than by our own courts.

    The problem is that it’s going to become like the UN Human Rights Comission; rather than a board that actually seeks to protect human rights, it will instead be a forum for the worst offenders to hector western nations with bullshit investigations as a distraction from their own far more egregious records. I don’t see any value in continuing to participate in the UN Kabuki theater. If we want to worry about the rights of the disabled world wide, that’s fine, but this isn’t the mechanism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  36. David M says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes it can, because now the interpretation of those laws will be made by UN officials the American people have no hand in selecting rather than by our own courts.

    Evidence? Just assuming something is good idea if the GOP opposes it actually works pretty well in most cases. In this case, the treaty does not give UN officials control of our laws.

    The ADA put the United States in the forefront of efforts to secure equal rights for the disabled, and it became the blueprint for the U.N. treaty, formally the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The treaty was negotiated by the George W. Bush administration. It was completed in 2006 and President Barack Obama signed it in 2009.

    The United Nations estimates that 650 million people around the world are disabled, about 10 percent of world population.

    Kerry and other backers stressed that the treaty requires no changes in U.S. law, that a committee created by the treaty to make recommendations has no power to change laws and that the treaty cannot serve as a basis for a lawsuit in U.S. courts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. @wr:

    EXACTLY! This treaty doesn’t let the jackbooted thugs do anything to you that they already can’t.

    @David M:

    In this case, the treaty does not give UN officials control of our laws.

    So if you admit we’re already in compliance with the treaty even if we aren’t a party to it, and that the UN doesn’t have the power to enforce the treaty anyways, then how exactly is not ratifying it “turning our backs on the disabled”?

    The treaty can’t be both entirely symbolic and critically necessary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  38. David M says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What part of international treaty are you intentionally not understanding?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. @David M:

    What part of international treaty are you intentionally not understanding?

    The part where sticking “international” in front of something automatically makes it a good idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  40. al-Ameda says:

    Does the Heritage Foundation have a check cashing facility in their employee lounge? When it comes to South Carolina, It never gets better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. David M says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Already being in compliance with a proposed international treaty is not a reason to oppose it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. @David M:

    Neither is the fact that a particular law is a good idea at the national level a reason to support similar laws at the international level.

    As I said, my problem is with the CRPD; we don’t need another unaccountable international body sitting in judgement of our laws. That’s up to the American people, not random dictators around the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  43. C. Clavin says:

    To add to my own comment (11:33) regarding Republicans riding the Express Train to Crazy Town…Mitch “Turtle Face” McConnell just filibustered his own bill. I’m not kidding. He fillibustered his own f’ing bill. How many times has that happened before? Exactly never? What a collection of clowns the Republicans have become.
    I assume at some point Republicans will hit the bottom and start to rebound. As Yukon Cornelius said; even Bumbles bounce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. C. Clavin says:

    So…do we all think Stormy is really that thick? Anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  45. David M says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Shorter Strormy:

    The UN is bad because my tinfoil hat is too tight and they didn’t send my free adjuster last week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  46. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    As I said, my problem is with the CRPD; we don’t need another unaccountable international body sitting in judgement of our laws.

    Other countries judge our laws all the time and it doesn’t practically change anything. Why would it matter if an international body without any enforcement power was judging them?

    The inability of the Senate to ratify a treaty based on our laws as a model for the world to follow? That harms American prestige. It becomes another idiotic step we’re taking into decadence. If you don’t like the world judging us, tough. They will regardless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  47. David M says:

    @Tillman:

    The inability of the Senate to ratify a treaty based on our laws as a model for the world to follow?

    That’s what’s so maddening about this, the utter incoherence of the opposition. The UN is ineffectual and will take over everything. The treaty will have no impact and will be the end of our freedom. We already meet the requirements and the treaty will let UN bureaucrats change everything without our permission.

    Their arguments are completely contradictory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  48. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin: I think that for Stormy, the phrase “United Nations” sets off some sort of visceral rage reflex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I think that for Stormy, the phrase “United Nations” sets off some sort of visceral rage reflex.

    If you can’t think of a dozen reasons why that is an entirely rational response, then you aren’t paying attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  50. Davebo says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Since pretty much everything in the treaty is already part of the ADA, I don’t see how voting against that treaty is “turning your backs on the disabled”. It’s just turning your backs on unelected international organizations meddling in our legal system.

    I think you need to read the treaty. It’s non-binding with no enforcement clauses whatsoever.

    Of course Fox viewers got a different story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  51. C. Clavin says:

    Indiana Jones #13 is just mad because the International Authorities don’t appreciate his treasure hunting.
    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    The important battle that’s going on now is not between R and D, but the battle within the GOP. It’s a battle between a government faction and an entertainment faction. People like McConnell and Boehner have a career in government, and they are interested in winning elections. People like Rush and Grover have a career in entertainment (the “conservative entertainment complex”), and they are interested in maximizing profits. Their profits are probably even higher when the GOP is out of power, so the government group and the entertainment group have competing interests.

    There are various signs that the entertainment group is winning the overall battle (Exhibit A: Mitt’s loss, which was created, to a great extent, by the entertainment group). DeMint sees the handwriting on the wall, and he is going where the money is. Notice this:

    Based on Feulner’s salary and DeMint’s influence, Holman predicts he could be getting an annual salary close to $3 million from Heritage.

    So DeMint is increasing his salary by a factor of about 17. That ratio reflects the power of the entertainment group, as compared with the power of the government group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  53. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: You want a half-dozen reasons why “revulsion” is an entirely appropriate response to the UN, Cliffy? I don’t want to trigger the spam filters on links, so just plug these key phrases into Google.

    UN Peacekeeper sex abuse (Noble Blue Helmets trading food and safety for sex from refugees)

    UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (orders the disarming of Hezbollah and demilitarizing Southern Lebanon — how’s that working out?)

    UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 (Zionism is Racism)

    UN “Oil For Food” Scandal (Saddam Hussein pays mega-bribes to get out of UN sanctions from first Gulf War)

    UN Agency WIPO transfers highly-sensitive US technology to Iran and North Korea

    The UN Human Rights Council — a huge joke. Appointed to membership were Qaddafi-led Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China, Russia, and Cuba.

    That enough for you? Or would you rather continue your substance-free posting history and throw more childish insults?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2