Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:36 AM
DonViejo (24,011 posts)
Jim DeMint Gains More Power Over GOP in Move from Senate to Heritage Foundation
by David Freedlander Dec 7, 2012 4:45 AM EST
DeMint’s resignation may seem surprising, but the Tea Party firebrand known for holding up legislation and opposing establishment pols will be free of the rules and ethics of the Senate—and remain a GOP kingmaker.
During slow moments in the United States Senate—and there are many, many of them in the world’s most deliberative body—staffers like to play a little game called “mapping.” In it, they take a look out on the graybeards occupying the seats on the Senate floor and sketch out what would happen if one of them were to retire or decide to run for another office. Who will vie for the open seat? What will happen to the committee slots the outgoing senator holds?
But few maps would have included the lightning bolt that struck the Capitol on Thursday, when Tea Party firebrand Jim DeMint announced, “I’m leaving the Senate. But I am not leaving the fight.” In taking up a new post as head of the Heritage Foundation, DeMint pulled off a move many lawmakers would have considered laughable: leaving elected office—for a think tank no less!—because the gig isn’t powerful enough. But conversations with several Senate staffers and Capitol Hill insiders say the shock is unmerited.
“He really hates the Senate,” said one D.C.-based conservative political operative. “And who wouldn’t? This place is terrible for a conservative—you have both sides arguing about how to slow the growth of government, not how to make government smaller. DeMint has left his legacy.”
DeMint’s tenure in the Senate will be remembered for two things: for him being a one-man stopper of legislation that a large chunk of the body approved, thus making the ultra-slow Senate even more dysfunctional; and for frustrating Republican leadership by running conservative challengers against the establishment’s preferred choice—and often winning.
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