Sen. DeMint Departure Leaves Void in Senate

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WASHINGTON - Staunch conservative Sen. Jim DeMint is leaving Congress to take over as the president of the policy think tank The Heritage Foundation.

"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," the South Carolina lawmaker said in a statement

DeMint's resignation sent shockwaves through Washington, leaving a huge void from a leading conservative voice on Capitol Hill.

The South Carolina senator is seen as one of Washington's top conservative leaders. He's a Tea Party favorite and even started the Tea Party Caucus in the Senate.

He's been an active fundraiser for new conservatives in Washington, helping to elect the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

CBN News Congressional Correspondent John Jessup has more reaction from Capitol Hill on DeMint's departure. Click play to watch.

And, of course, he led the fight against Obamacare. But his efforts haven't always been welcome.

Some Republicans have blamed him for their inability to gain more seats in the Senate because he backed more conservative candidates as opposed to mainstream candidates.

In October of this year, he gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation recounting how when he first got to Washington as a congressman, he was told by then Majority Leader Tom DeLay to vote for, what he described as, bad legislation.

He was warned if they didn't, they'd get something worse to vote on in the future. That was a notion he rejected.

"I was sitting there. I was a freshman, and I just kind of yelled out, 'That's completely illogical,'" he said. "And everybody was staring at me, and the room was quiet. And somebody from the back of the room just said, 'Don't worry. You'll get used to it.'"

"Well, I never got used to it," he said.

DeMint, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004, said now he'll be able to play the agitator role outside of Capitol Hill and over at the Heritage Foundation.

His resignation is effective Jan. 1. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint his successor.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.