COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - US Sen. Jim DeMint will resign from the Senate on Dec. 31 to head up the Heritage Foundation, a Conservative Washington think-tank, according to a press release from the senator's office.
"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," said DeMint in a statement from his office.
"I'm leaving the Senate now, but I'm not leaving the fight. I've decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas. 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."
According to its website, the Heritage Foundation's mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
The Heritage Foundation's current president, Ed Feulner, was listed as earning $947,999 in 2010, according to the Washingtonian. Feulner, 71, had planned to step down to move into a part-time role with the foundation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In an interview with CNN, DeMint said it was a "good time to leave" because of the term limit he set for himself.
"I never intended to be acareer politician," said DeMint. "I've played a roll in stocking the Senate with solidconservatives who are younger and brighter and better spokesmen that I am. Andso I know I'm leaving the Senate better than I found it, with some realleaders. But, this is an opportunity to do more to get the American peoplebehind them. If we don't do that it's gonna be hard to keep people here inWashington who are promoting the right ideas."
DeMint's resignation will now leave one seat from South Carolina's congressional delegation empty. According to law, Gov. Nikki Haley will have to appoint someone to the seat, and that person will be given the option to run in a special election in 2014 to fill out the rest of DeMint's term, which ends in 2016.
DeMint was elected to the Senate in 2005 after Sen. Fritz Hollings retired. He quickly became one of the Republican Party's biggest firebrands and one of President Barack Obama's loudest critics.
He ran for re-election in 2010 and easily defeated Democratic candidate Alvin Greene in one of the most infamous and talked-about Senate races in the country.
With the seat now empty, Haley now has the task of choosing from a long list of potential candidates. The governor released a statement shortly after the news broke. She has not yet indicated who her choice may be, but said she would not appoint herself to the seat.
During a scheduled appearance on an Upstate radio station WORD 106.3 on Thursday, Haley said some had suggested she do so. "Yes, people have called in quite a bit and they have been very kind," Haley told host Bob McLain. "But, no, I will not be appointing myself. That's not even an option and not something that I'm considering at all."
"I think that it is very important that we stick with somebody who is conservative and strong and is a fighter," said Haley. "We're actually very open-minded on this."
Haley said she hopes to make a timely decision. "My goal is not to have it drag out," said the governor.