Two interesting political developments from South Carolina. Anti-gay social conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, described as a "favorite of the 'tea party' and Fox News", has announced that he will resign in January to head the Heritage Foundation, the right-wing think tank. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Sen. DeMint was reelected to a second term in 2010. The 61-year-old senator had announced earlier that he would not seek a third term. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. "This is an urgent time," the senator said, "because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections."
DeMint––who infamously has said that same-sex marriage is "destructive" to society and gays are "immoral"––led the opposition against Mari Carmen Aponte, the Obama Administration's pro-LGBT ambassador to El Salvador. DeMint also vocally opposed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor' confirmation––as well as that of Washington D.C. Superior Court. Judge Marisa Demeo, one of President Obama’s first openly LGBT appointees.
DeMint's resignation means that South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley will appoint a replacement to "serve until a 2014 special election," adds The Washington Post.
DeMint "has made it known" that he wants to be replaced by Rep. Tim Scott, reports The Hill. Scott made history in 2010 as the first Black Republican elected to Congress from South Carolina in more than a century. Scott is an anti-gay Tea Party favorite.
Haley and Scott have a good relationship, according to sources, though it's unclear how willing she would be to listen to DeMint, who officially stayed neutral during her gubernatorial primary but quietly supported then-Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) in the race. A spokesman for DeMint denied that the senator has pushed Scott.
Scott is stridently anti-gay and opposes a woman's right to choose, the labor movement and other progressive causes. Scott opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
The former state representative also supported the GOP-dominated state legislature's proposal to slash the state's entire HIV/AIDS budget, including funding to the critical AIDS Drug Assistance Program. South Carolina has the 8th highest HIV rate in the nation. New seroconversions in the Carolinas are disproportionately black and young black gay/bisexual men. With friends like these ...
Scott was named to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee last week. Scott represents the 1st District along the state's southern coast. If appointed he would become the first Black Republican senator since Massachusetts' Sen. Edward Brooke retired in the late 1970s. Scott would also become the only African-American in the next Senate.
You May Have Missed ...
Scott Suggests Impeaching Obama Over Debt
Tim Scott Wins SC Congressional Primary
Anti-Gay Black GOP Scott Poised to Win SC Primary
GOP Senators Block Ambassador to El Salvador
Senate Confirms Lesbian Judge Marisa Demeo
DeMint: Gays Are "Immoral"