The nation may or may not go over the "fiscal cliff," but Republican Jim DeMint will be going off the hill in January. The South Carolina senator announced Thursday he will resign his Senate seat next month to become president of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. The organization's founder, Edwin J. Feulner, will step down as president in April.
The conservative senator, a favorite of Tea Party activists, said in a written statement he will continue to defend the principles and advance the policies he believes in.
"I'm leaving the Senate now, but I'm not leaving the fight," the statement said. "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." Later, DeMint told Fox News, "I honestly believe I can do a lot more on the outside than on the inside."
De Mint, 62, was elected to a second term in 2010. Widely regarded as among the most conservative members of the Senate, he has not been bashful about breaking party ranks, recently criticizing fellow Republicans for agreeing to put revenue increases on the table in negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House to avert the "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts to take effect starting January 1 unless Congress and the president reach a deficit reduction agreement. DeMint received a 100 percent rating in the latest edition of "The Freedom Index" published by The New American, which rates the voting record of Congress members on key issues to show their level of "adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements." DeMint received an 85 percent cumulative rating on votes cast over the past two years.
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Photo of Sen. Jim DeMint: AP Images