US Sen. DeMint Resigns to Head Conservative Group

Sen. Jim DeMint speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 9, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Jim DeMint speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 9 in Washington, D.C.

Associated Press + More

By SEANNA ADCOX, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a favorite among tea party activists, is resigning to take the helm of a conservative think tank.

[By Jim DeMint: Online Sales Tax is Taxation Without Representation]

DeMint's Washington office confirmed Thursday that the South Carolina politician 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.

The 61-year-old Republican was first elected to the Senate in 2004.

[Enjoy: U.S. News' Political Cartoons]

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley gets to appoint his Senate successor.

His former state director Luke Byars says the new role allows DeMint to effect change outside of the U.S. Capitol.

[Opinion: The Case for Mitt Romney to Pick Jim DeMint for Vice President]

The political consultant says it's a vehicle for him to push and pull on conservative issues on a national stage.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.