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James Warren "Jim" DeMint (born September 2, 1951) has been a U.S. Senator from South Carolinamarker since 2005. He had previously represented South Carolina's 4th congressional district from 1999 to 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life, education, and early career

DeMint was born in Greenville, South Carolinamarker, one of four children. DeMint's parents, Tom Eugene DeMint and the former Betty W. (Rawlings) Batson, divorced when he was five. His mother operated a dance studio. DeMint was educated at the Christ Church Episcopal School, Greenville, South Carolinamarker and Wade Hampton High School in Greenville. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennesseemarker and an M.B.A. from Clemson Universitymarker.

Prior to entering politics, DeMint worked in the field of market research. In 1983, he founded his own research firm, the DeMint Group. He was president of this corporation until 1998.

DeMint married his high school sweetheart, Debbie Henderson, on September 1, 1973; the couple has four children.

U.S. House of Representatives

In 1998, Fourth District Congressman Bob Inglis kept his promise to serve only three terms, by running against Senator Fritz Hollings.

DeMint won the Republican primary for the district, which includes Greenville and Spartanburgmarker. He then went on to win the general election in November. The district is considered the most Republican in the state, and he did not face a serious or well-funded Democratic opponent in 1998 or in his two re-election campaigns in 2000 and 2002.

U.S. Senate

Committee assignments

Political positions and actions

DeMint was ranked by National Journal as the most conservative United States Senator in their March, 2007 conservative/liberal rankings, and again in 2008.

DeMint's main work has been opposing the increase of Federal government spending, both under the Bush and Obama Administrations. He was opposed to federal bailouts for banks and other corporations. For his stances on budgetary issues, DeMint has been strongly supported by the fiscally conservative political group Club for Growth.

He has been a consistent supporter of school sponsored prayer and has introduced legislation that would allow schools to display banners reading "God Bless America".

DeMint favors banning all forms of abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

DeMint endorsed Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.

In the Senate, DeMint introduced an amendment aimed at weakening the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accountability legislation; this amendment failed to become law.

On the issue of immigration, DeMint favors requiring all illegal immigrants currently in the United States to return to their home countries to apply for legal reinstatement. He is also against the Guest Worker program and is in favor of establishing English as the country's official language.

On February 6, 2008 Jim DeMint was joined by Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, John Cornyn, James Inhofe, and David Vitter in the Senate to introduce the Semper Fi Act of 2008 which would strip federal funding from Berkeley, Californiamarker in response to the Berkeley Marine Corps Recruiting Center controversy. The bill would have stripped $2.1 million in earmarks for the city and the University of California, Berkeleymarker and would have instead directed the funds to the Marine Corps Recruiting Fund. His actions were reprimanded by both the House and Senate leadership as divisive and unnecessary. His bill was defeated by a 74-25 vote.

In 2009, DeMint introduced an amendment to a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus bill that would have prohibited lawmakers from using any percentage of transportation funds on bicycle, walking, or wilderness trails. Additionally, DeMint opposed the whole bill.

DeMint was one of two Senators, along with David Vitter, to vote against Hillary Clinton's confirmation to become the United States Secretary of State.

DeMint went to Honduras in 2009, and met with de facto president Roberto Micheletti, who was installed after the coup. The White House has explicitly banned meetings with the current leaders. The United States (along with every other country) officially views ousted president Manuel Zelaya as the legitimately elected president.

In 2009, DeMint authored a book entitled Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America's Slide into Socialism (Fidelis, Nashville, 2009).

Electoral history

2004 election

DeMint declared his candidacy the Senate on December 12, 2002, after Hollings announced that he would retire after the 2004 elections. DeMint was supposedly the White Housemarker's preferred candidate in the Republican primary.

In the Republican primary on June 8, 2004 DeMint placed a distant second, 18 percentage points behind former governor David Beasley. DeMint won the runoff handily, however.

DeMint then faced Democratic state education superintendent Inez Tenenbaum in the November general election. DeMint led Tenenbaum through much of the campaign and ultimately defeated her by 9.6 percentage points. DeMint's win meant that South Carolina was represented by two Republican Senators for the first time since Reconstruction, when Thomas J. Robertson and John J. Patterson served together as Senators.

DeMint stirred controversy during debates with Tenenbaum when he stated his belief that openly gay people should not be allowed to teach in public schools. When questioned by reporters, DeMint also stated that single mothers who live with their boyfriends should similarly be excluded from being educators. He later apologized for making the remarks without specifically retracting their substantive claims, saying they were "distracting from the main issues of the debate." He also noted that these were opinions based on his personal values, not issues he would or could deal with as a member of Congress.

DeMint has since re-tooled his rhetoric regarding homosexuals as a public health initiative. In a 2008 interview, he cited the prevalence of certain diseases among homosexuals as his reason for opposing gay marriage. He did not elaborate on how marriage contributes to the spread of those diseases.

2004 South Carolina United States Senate election

Jim DeMint (R) 53.7%
Inez Tenenbaum (D) 44.1%
Patrick Tyndall (Constitution) 0.8%
Rebekah Sutherland (Libertarian) 0.7%
Tee Ferguson (United Citizens Party) 0.4%
Efia Nwangaza (Green) 0.3%


  1. "2008 Vote Ratings", National Journal
  2. demint
  3. Political Arithmetik: National Journal 2006 Liberal/Conservative Scores
  4. NATIONAL JOURNAL: 2007 Vote Ratings (03/07/2007)
  7. Voiland, Adam, "Senator DeMint's Pro-Obesity Legislation", "DC Bicycle Transportation Examiner" March 1, 2009
  8. Democrats target Jim DeMint's Honduras trip
  9. Dan Hoover, "DeMint apologizes after remarks on gays", Greenville News, October 6, 2004
  10. Demint, Jim, Remarks to Diane Rehm, 'The Diane Rehm Show', National Public Radio, January 31, 2008

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