Thursday, November 04, 2010

Who wants to be the DSCC Chair?!?

That's the big question. There are 23 Democrats and 10 Republicans that will be up for re-election in 2012. This is due to the big Democratic wave in 2006. Does anyone want to serve as chairman? Well...
When asked on election night who would now lead the DSCC, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the current chairman, answered jokingly.

"A crazy person," he quipped.

But Menendez may have a point.

Democrats have a nightmare election cycle looming, with 23 seats up for grabs in 2012, while Republicans have to defend only nine seats. Several of those Democrats are rookies who won in 2006 in formerly Republican seats in places like like Montana, Missouri and Virginia.[...]

Many would-be candidates, like Menendez, are up for reelection in 2012 and have to worry about their own campaigns. And many who would seem to be ideal candidates so far have flatly rejected the idea. Menendez himself had to be talked into taking the job in the aftermath of the 2008 elections. If all else fails, some are even talking about bringing New York Sen. Chuck Schumer back to run the DSCC for a third cycle.[...]

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who doesn’t have to worry about reelection until 2014, has been repeatedly floated as a possible replacement because of his fundraising prowess and ties to business — but his spokesman said that it’s “absolutely not happening.”

What about Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley? A spokesman says Merkley has “no interest” in being DSCC chairman.

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen? “Not interested,” her spokesman says.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has also taken himself out of consideration. Franken was seen as a potentially strong choice for DSCC chairman because of his fundraising prowess and widespread name recognition among potential donors.

But Franken has no interest in the assignment, according to his office. “Sen. Franken is focused on working for the people Minnesota and has no interest in heading up the DSCC,” said Ed Shelleby, Franken’s spokesman.

Other more junior senators have turned down the idea in interviews with POLITICO, including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and his cousin, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall.[...]

But the political environment shifted markedly, and Democrats won the Senate majority from the 2006 midterms — after which the then-chairman of the DSCC, Schumer, was rewarded with the No. 3 spot in Senate leadership, which still gives him enormous influence to shape the party’s political and legislative agenda. In 2008, Schumer increased his clout by staying on for another term as DSCC chairman and helping lead Democrats to a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority.

“I was saying to Chuck, ‘Have you lost your mind?'” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said of Schumer’s repeated terms as DSCC chairman. “But we’re glad that he did it.”[...]

This year, with Reid winning his bruising reelection bid, there won’t be a race to succeed him as leader. And that has only increased speculation that Schumer — a possible Reid successor — may ultimately be pressured to return as DSCC chairman this cycle.

Schumer’s aides in the past have dismissed such speculation, but his spokesman, Brian Fallon, did not respond to an inquiry Thursday.
Time will tell.

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