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Tea partier Jim DeMint leaves Senate for think tank position

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ardent Tea Partier, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint has never been known for a laid-back personable style, and has been accused by many of his peers as being "abrasive." DeMint has now announced his departure from the Senate and will be taking a position with the highly influential conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. Reaction by his announcement has been mixed.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Heritage Foundation has been described by one senior Republican describes as the "CEO of the conservative movement." Many admit that DeMint leaves a legacy of success in bolstering the ranks of Tea Party-minded senators.

"I've decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas," DeMint wrote. "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."

In his statement, DeMint did infer a possible leadership vacuum in the ideological branch of the Republican Party that he helped shape since his election to the Senate in 2004. 

"Your effect on the inside sometimes is limited, especially when you challenge the leadership a lot. And Jim DeMint has brushed up against GOP leadership," Family Research Council head Tony Perkins noted. "I think he will be one who can rally conservatives on the outside and -- with an understanding of the inside process -- will be very effective in helping lay strategies for the conservative movement."

Colin Hanna, president of conservative organization Let Freedom Ring welcomed the news. "It's an opportunity to develop policy and be in the leadership of the thought development of the movement without having to take into consideration some of the internal dynamics of the Senate.

"I know from conversations with him that he's eager for an opportunity to develop ideas outside of the context of the leadership dynamics of a very complex body," Hanna added.

The Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973 and situated just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, has been one of the flagship institutions of the conservative movement. The foundation is responsible for the production of volumes of public policy proposals from hundreds of experts.

DeMint's new role outside the Senate offers quiet relief to some colleagues.

One incident that proved his hardball approach was in July 2007, when DeMint used Senate rules to force members to vote on a Saturday, then further enraged them by failing to show up in the Capitol for the vote itself.

Some lawmakers publicly griped about his opposition to the entrenched GOP lawmakers he helped defeat. DeMint, however scored a major victory by winning support for a 2010 earmark ban, but only after battling intense behind-the-scenes opposition from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

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