Politics

December 6, 2012

Tea party favorite DeMint quits US Senate

Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is stepping down to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

The Associated Press

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Sen. Jim DeMint: "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,"

AP

He helped raise more than $25 million for the fund for the 2010 and 2012 elections.

DeMint also wasn't shy about going after people in his own party if he thought they weren't conservative enough.

He opposed longtime Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, just before the veteran Republican, facing a challenge from the right, switched to become a Democrat. DeMint also broke with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Republican leader's backyard to support tea party favorite Rand Paul in the Kentucky Senate primary. Both Paul and Pat Toomey, the conservative who won the GOP nomination in Pennsylvania, were elected in 2010.

DeMint was elected to the U.S. House in 1998 and to the U.S. Senate in 2004, replacing Ernest "Fritz" Hollings. DeMint easily won re-election in 2010 with almost no in-state campaigning. He defeated Democrat Alvin Greene, an unemployed political unknown, with 61 percent of the vote, as he focused on Senate races outside South Carolina.

Graham said the resignation of his friend surprised him.

Graham, who is viewed as more moderate than DeMint, acknowledged his differences with him during comments on the Senate floor, but said they had both represented the state well in different ways.

"I think we've done a pretty darn good job for South Carolina, at times playing the good cop, the bad cop, but always trying to work together," Graham said. "What differences we've had have been sincere, and that's the word I would use about Sen. DeMint. ... We've had a great ride together."

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