Conservatives had mixed reactions to Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) announcement that he’ll be leaving the upper chamber to lead the Heritage Foundation.
DeMint had been trying to hold the line in caucus against agreeing to any new taxes — including Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) compromise of raising additional revenue through closing loopholes and limiting deductions.
“Speaker Boehner’s $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny,” DeMint said in a statement two days ago. “This isn’t rocket science.”
Yet lawmakers on the right also thought an appropriate champion was headed to the conservative think tank.
“Jim is not just a colleague; he is a friend and a mentor, and his departure will be a tremendous loss for the U.S. Senate and for the conservative movement. In eight years, he has personally led the effort to change the composition of the Senate for the better, and provided consistent and principled leadership in the fight for liberty and limited government,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
“He will be missed. I’m confident he will continue to play an important role in the ongoing public debate about the future of this country, and I wish him the best in his new position.”
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said there’s “no better choice than Jim DeMint” to lead Heritage.
“It is disappointing to lose his strong voice in the Senate, but I look forward to his continued conservative leadership at the helm of The Heritage Foundation,” Jordan said. “The folks at Heritage are an indispensable ideas factory for conservatives in Congress. South Carolina’s loss is the country’s gain.”
Ed Feulner, the current president of The Heritage Foundation, served as the first executive director of the Republican Study Committee, the conservative caucus in the House, in 1973.
“Congratulations to the Heritage Foundation and to Jim DeMint on his selection,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “I’ll miss Jim in the Senate, but he should be a strong and effective leader for Heritage.”
In a lengthy statement, DeMint said he’s leaving the Senate after eight years, but “not leaving the fight.”
He called establishment of his Senate Conservatives Fund PAC before 2010 elections one of the “most rewarding things I’ve done in the Senate.” The PAC endorsed Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Toomey. It also raised money for failed Senate candidates Sharron Angle in Nevada and Joe Miller in Alaska.
“Jim has been a source of inspiration for many of us who came to Washington to fight for our core conservative beliefs,” Lee said. “He has shown that getting things done doesn’t have to mean abandoning your principles. For too long, he was a movement unto himself in the Senate, keeping the torch lit for free-market principles and limited government. We are a better country for his service. Jim is a friend and mentor, and I plan to honor his time in the Senate by continuing the push for individual liberty and restoring constitutional government.”