COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is resigning his Senate seat to take the helm of a conservative think tank.
DeMint's Washington office confirmed Thursday that the prominent tea party supporter from South Carolina is stepping down to become president of the Heritage Foundation, effective Jan. 1.
His office said DeMint was too busy to come to the phone.
Shortly after the announcement Sen. Lamar Alexander offered his congratulations. "I’ll miss Jim in the Senate, but he should be a strong and effective leader for Heritage,” said Alexander in a statement.
The 61-year-old Republican was first elected to the Senate in 2004.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley gets to appoint his successor to the Senate.
His former state director Luke Byars says the new role allows DeMint to affect change outside of the U.S. Capitol.
The political consultant says it's a vehicle for him to push and pull on conservative issues on a national stage to get the attention of people in Washington.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.