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Senator Jim DeMint will leave the Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group.
His departure will allow him to oppose a big budget deal that includes higher tax revenues sought by President Obama. He has been among the biggest critics of a deal proposed by House Speaker John A. Boehner to address the impending fiscal crisis by generating at least $800 billion in new tax revenue.
“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,” said DeMint. “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.”
Mr. DeMint frustrated Senate leaders by eagerly backing Republican candidates like Sharron Angle of Nevada in 2010 and Richard Mourdock of Indiana this year, contenders who proved too conservative to be elected statewide. The losses by Angle and Mourdock and other candidates endorsed by DeMint hurt Republicans in the last two elections in their efforts to retake the Senate though he successfully backed conservative candidates in Florida, Texas and Utah.
“The truth is that Jim DeMint’s philosophy on everything from Medicare to women’s reproductive rights, as embodied by his handpicked candidates for Congress, has been rejected by voters,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who headed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year.
The costly Senate defeats, as well as Mr. DeMint’s proclivity for gumming up legislation on the floor, stunted his chances for leadership in the Senate, and his influence may well be enhanced from the outside.