Tea party hero Sen. Jim DeMint will head the conservative Heritage think tank, and some say freedom from party politics could make him an even bigger player on the right.
Jim DeMint, one of the tea party’s founding fathers and leading intellectual lights, is leaving the US Senate for the presidency of the Heritage Foundation think tank – a move that some say may give him a greater clout as an arch-conservative voice uninhibited by party leadership.
The senator from South Carolina is stepping aside two years into his second Senate term. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) will name his replacement, who will serve until a special election in 2014.
Senator DeMint’s term will be remembered less for personal policy achievements than the political organization he built – and the contingent of deeply conservative senators he helped elect. DeMint played a key role in cultivating, funding, and stumping for a veritable who’s who of senators idolized on the right: Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas.
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