Effective beginning January, he’ll become the new president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that promotes small government and free enterprise.
"It's been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in United States Senate for the past eight years, but now it's time for me to pass the torch to someone else and take on a new role in the fight for America's future,” he stated in a press release announcement.
“I've decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”
DeMint’s retirement from elected office has been anticipated, but not this soon, however. In Aug. 2011, he said he would not seek re-election in 2016.
The sudden announcement opens the doors for rumors about his replacement, who will be selected by Gov. Nikki Haley, according to the state constitution.
A public election will take place in 2014 for the remaining two years of the senate term.
Multiple sources say Rep. Tim Scott will get the appointment.
“Jim DeMint has said he wants Tim Scott — period,” one anonymous source told The Washington Post. “The ball is in Governor Haley’s court. Does she go with the status quo and appoint Scott? I think it would be hard not to.”
Scott and Haley are mutual supporters, and campaigned together in 2010 when each first ran for their offices. The two crashed the 2012 Democratic National Convention together, as well.
Haley would not be able to appoint any replacement to Scott’s 1st Congressional Dist. seat, though.
According to Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, “When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.”
No candidates for special election, should Scott get the appointment, have been rumored yet.
Scott offered a rather broad statement on the circumstance. “I know (Haley) will make the right choice for both South Carolina and the nation.”
Scott supporters shouldn’t get their hopes up just yet, though, says DeMint spokesperson Wesley Denton.
“Sen. DeMint has no favorites as our state has a deep bench of conservatives,” Denton told The Hill. “This is Gov. Haley’s decision alone and he trusts her to make a great choice.”
Other rumors insinuate that Haley will seek the office herself. With dwindling reputation and public support, Haley is anticipated to face primary challengers in the 2014 gubernatorial election. A move to a new office could help her overcome voter dissent.
However, an incumbent governor can’t nominate him- or herself. Haley would have to resign, and then be appointed by her replacement, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell (Rep.).
While still President Pro Tem of the state senate, however, McConnell sparred frequently with Haley, indicating no allegiance between them.
Other rumored nominees include: her deputy Chief of Staff Ted Pitts; former state Attorney Gen. Henry McMaster (Haley’s primary opponent in 2010); state Dept. of Health and Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton; former Ambassador David Williams; state Rep. Nathan Ballentine; state Sen. Tom Davis; former state GOP Chair Katon Dawson; and Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina’s 5th Congressional Dist.
DeMint remains vocal in the Senate, though, even after announcing his resignation. This afternoon, he tweeted an angry response to House leader Rep. John Boehner’s budget proposal.
He was first elected to U.S. Senate in 2004 after serving six years as U.S. Representative from the state’s 4th Congressional Dist.
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