WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced on Thursday he will retire from the Senate and head off to run the Heritage Foundation, the preeminent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

The South Carolinian leaves quite the legacy, having pushed the type of purity politics that forced Republican members to consistently exhibit their conservative credentials. It also contributed to some of the massive amounts of gridlock in the Senate. Perhaps DeMint's most memorable moment in President Barack Obama's first term was when he declared that the pursuit of comprehensive health care reform could be become the administration's Waterloo.

How much his actions ended up benefiting the Republican Party isn't exactly clear. Health care reform, for example, ended up becoming law. And with respect to demanding purity among his fellow lawmakers, DeMint ended up with both major breakthroughs and notable misfires. While he was instrumental in the election of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), some of his picks have backfired, handing Democrats victories.

Below is a list of the candidates that his Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee endorsed, as well as a slideshow of candidates whose races were notably shaped by DeMint.

Candidates endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund (data from OpenSecrets.org):

 WINS  LOSSES
 Tom Coburn
 Oklahoma, Senate, 2010
 Todd Akin
 Missouri, Senate, 2012
 Ted Cruz
 Texas, Senate, 2012
 George Allen
 Virginia, Senate, 2012
 Jeff Flake
 Arizona, Senate, 2012
 Sharron Angle
 Nevada, Senate, 2010
 Deb Fischer
 Nebraska, Senate, 2012
 Dan Bongino
 Maryland, Senate, 2012
 Ron Johnson
 Wisconsin, Senate, 2010
 Ken Buck
 Colorado, Senate, 2010
 Mike Lee
 Utah, Senate, 2012
 Josh Mandel
 Ohio, Senate, 2012
 Rand Paul
 Kentucky, Senate, 2010
 Joe Miller
 Alaska, Senate, 2010
 Marco Rubio
 Florida, Senate, 2010
 Richard Mourdock
 Indiana, Senate, 2012
 Marlin Stutzman
 Indiana, House, 2010
 Christine O'Donnell
 Delaware, Senate, 2010
 Pat Toomey
 Pennsylvania, Senate, 2010
 John Raese
 West Virginia, Senate, 2010
 Dino Rossi
 Washington, Senate, 2010
 Tom Smith
 Pennsylvania, Senate, 2012
 Chuck Devore
 California, Senate, 2010 (lost primary)
 Ovide Lamontagne
 New Hampshire, Senate, 2010 (lost primary)
 Mark Neumann
 Wisconsin, Senate, 2012 (lost primary)
 Don Stenberg
 Nebraska, Senate, 2012 (lost primary)


Also on HuffPost:

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  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

    Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) bucked his own party by backing Rand Paul over Trey Grayson, literally one day after Grayson received Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) endorsement. It was a risky choice in more than one sense: DeMint was positioning himself as a thorn in the side of his own party leadership. He was also providing Democrats with an opening because Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway was running far better against Paul than Grayson. It ended up playing out well for DeMint, who cemented his status as a powerful endorser and gained, in Paul, an ideological ally in the Senate. DeMint's PAC spent <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$51,613</a> to aid Paul.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

    DeMint's PAC spent <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$160,305</a> to help Marco Rubio in 2010 as he was running for U.S. Senate in Florida. "I'd rather have <a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/271411-jim-demint-resigns-from-senate " target="_hplink">30 Marco Rubios</a> in the Senate than 60 Arlen Specters," DeMint said at the time, referencing the Pennsylvania senator who left the Republican Party in 2009 to become a Democrat. Rubio has given DeMint a significant amount of credit for his win over former Florida governor Charlie Crist in the GOP primary, noting that the senator was one of the first national figures to back him. Rubio <a href="http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2011/07/marco-rubios-forever-grateful-to-sen-jim-demint.html" target="_hplink">wrote</a> the foreword to DeMint's 2012 book, thanking him for his help: "I was supposed to lose Florida's 2010 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, and I was supposed to lose big. I will always be grateful to Senator DeMint ... When other people in our party cared more about popularity and power above all else, he insisted that Republicans stay true to their principles. Thanks to his willingness to take a chance on a new crop of committed conservatives, he won't be the only one in Washington standing up for the principles of freedom."

  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)

    Then-Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) was heavily favored to win the special election to fill Vice President Joe Biden's Senate seat in 2010. His opponent, Democratic county executive Chris Coons, had little statewide name recognition. But Castle never received the GOP nomination after DeMint and other conservatives, such as Sarah Palin, jumped into the race and endorsed Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell. DeMint's PAC spent <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$144,963</a> on O'Donnell, who became most famous for <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/News/christine-odonnell-dabbled-witchcraft/story?id=11671277" target="_hplink">once dabbling in witchcraft</a>. Coons went on to beat O'Donnell by 17 percentage points.

  • Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

    Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) was the heavy favorite to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). Having served as a mentor to many Republicans in the state and possessing high name recognition for his time as a relatively moderate governor, Thompson went in as the frontrunner against Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Thompson, however, had three opponents in his primary, including former Rep. Mark Neumann, who was endorsed by DeMint's PAC. In the primary, the Senate Conservatives Fund spent <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$60,576</a> on Neumann. Thompson emerged as the winner but was significantly bruised from his primary and struggled to refill his campaign war chest for the general election. Baldwin went on to beat Thompson.

  • Sen.-elect Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)

    DeMint's PAC spent more than <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$170,000</a> to boost conservative state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his effort to run out Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and take over his seat. A seemingly sure-fire race showed signs of being a potentially tight contest almost immediately, when Mourdock, upon winning the nomination, mocked the notion of bipartisan compromise. Things fully fell apart, however, when he suggested that pregnancy resulting from rape was an act of God. Mourdock lost to Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

  • Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

    The Senate Conservatives Fund and its super PAC spent <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$2 million</a> backing Ted Cruz in his primary challenge against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-Texas), the choice of the Texas GOP establishment. It wasn't the bravest bet made by DeMint; Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth, conservative media personalities and social conservatives like James Dobson backed Cruz as well. But because the winner was basically destined to be the next U.S. senator, it did give DeMint another notch on his belt.

  • Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

    Colorado's Ken Buck was the biggest recipient of Senate Conservatives Fund cash in 2010, receiving a total of <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2012&cmte=C00448696">$394,857</a> for his U.S. Senate campaign, as well as a coveted endorsement in a crowded GOP primary. The Weld County District Attorney was not the establishment choice. And though he ran a better race than some of his Tea Party compatriots in that cycle, he ultimately lost a very winnable seat to Democrat Michael Bennet.