Via The Washington Post, news that will reverberate across Washington:
DeMint, a staunch conservative who often clashes with party leadership, was reelected to a second term in 2010. He will depart before the new Congress is sworn in next month. “I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas,” DeMint said in a statement. “My constituents know that being a Senator was never going to be my career.”
The senator, a vocal advocate for term limits, had already pledged not to seek a third term.
Before entering politics, DeMint worked in market research, and he told the Journal that he’s excited about taking Heritage Foundation research and working to “translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work.”
DeMint will take over from Ed Fuelner, who has been president of the Heritage Foundation since 1977.
This is interesting, for several reasons:
1. Will Heritage’s voice change, as an organization? I don’t know if DeMint was known for his in-depth policy analysis, and it could open Heritage up to centrist and liberal criticism that it’s becoming too much of an activist organization. On the other hand, he has one of the best grasps of conservative principles in the Senate, so perhaps I’m overly concerned.
And before I get accused of worrying too much about what liberals think, remember that they control the mainstream media.
2. DeMint still has four years left in his current term. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to abandon one’s elected office like this. Clearly, he’s not pulling a Trent Lott, who left to become a lobbyist, but the timing is certainly questionable for his constituents. Fortunately, Governor Nikki Haley will name his replacement, who will face a special election in 2014.
3. DeMint is obviously one of the biggest conservative names in the Senate. There are a couple of Senators who are more effective on policy, but his leaving will leave a good-sized hole the conservative base has to fill. And few people, except probably for Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), have gummed up the expansion of government as much over the last five or six years. That’s a huge hole to fill, and as Ed Morrissey noted, it would have been good to have him on the inside over the next four years. This is especially true post-2010, when his PAC proved very influential in Senate races across the nation.
4. What will Feulner, one of the most influential voices in certain conservative circles, do in retirement?
Update: Heritage’s official announcement notes Feulner will still be very involved at Heritage.
Heritage’s Board of Trustees unanimously chose DeMint as the organization’s next leader, starting April 3. DeMint will resign from the Senate and start as President-elect in early January, so he and Feulner can ensure a smooth transition. After April, Feulner will continue serving as Chancellor of the Foundation and Chairman of our Asian Studies Center.