Sen. Patty Murray is next in seniority on the Budget panel, but her office didn’t return an e-mail for comment on whether she would be interested in the chairmanship. The Washington Democrat also serves as Conference secretary and chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, could see a short-term benefit from Conrad’s decision to retire, even though it makes the Senate more likely to be in Republican hands two years hence: They’ll have one less vulnerable Member to protect on tough votes.
Republican aides have been eyeing the 23 Democratic seats up in 2012, including Conrad’s, as potential sources of Republican legislative victories in the next two years as they try to advance House GOP bills, noting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said as much two weeks ago.
“How many of the 23 Democrats who are up in ’12 are going to be more interested in cooperating with us in trying to advance an agenda that’s going to come out of the House of Representatives that we think is going to be largely favored by the American people?” McConnell said.
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