For Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. DeMint's leaving the Senate must be particularly poignant: DeMint was an early supporter or and mentor to Paul, and even backed Paul in the Republican primary.
Paul and DeMint (with Sen. Mike Lee) also have the bond of founding the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. Senate. That was no easy thing to do. Aside from grumbling within their own party, the Tea Party Caucus faced institutional challenges the likes of which one would associate with Junior High. As Sen. Paul told me at the Louisville Federalist Society luncheon last February, the Democrats literally locked the door on the conference room so that the Tea Party Caucus could not meet.
Here's Paul's statement:
I want to congratulate Senator Jim DeMint on becoming president of Heritage. We will miss his strong voice for the Constitution in the Senate, but I believe that his voice will still resonate throughout the country. He leaves the Senate with more constitutional conservatives than when he came, and those of us he helped are forever grateful. Because of Senator DeMint’s tireless efforts there now is a significant voice for Liberty in the U.S. Senate.