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DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil, a veteran of Bennet's tough 2010 campaign and the committee's political director during the successful 2006 cycle, said Murray's priority this year is infrastructure investment and pushing her incumbents to staff up early. Nelson, among the most vulnerable Democrats in 2012, relied heavily on DSCC support in 2006. The Nebraskan gave Murray high marks for her stewardship of the committee thus far.
"I think she's doing fine. We've been working with her; I'm very comfortable with the job she's doing, and I hear that from others as well," Nelson told Roll Call.
Murray accepted a second tour at the DSCC after Reid failed to persuade anyone else to take the job in what one Democratic political operative said "can only be considered a difficult cycle." Washington state's senior Senator was hit with an immediate wave of retirements, setting up an even bumpier road ahead, as Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Jim Webb (Va.) and Conrad chose not to run for re-election.
But Democrats have been buoyed by Murray's recruiting and cited Rep. Shelley Berkley's decision to seek the open Nevada Senate seat, Rep. Joe Donnelly's candidacy in Indiana and former DNC Chairman Tim Kaine's decision to run in Virginia, where he served as governor before joining President Barack Obama's political team. Cecil said the goal is to improve Democrats' electoral prospects by running top-tier candidates against at least four to six Republican incumbents.
Murray, who won re-election last year under difficult circumstances despite the Democratic lean of her state, has engendered much loyalty from her Democratic colleagues for accepting a job no one wanted. She is viewed as adept at early-voting strategy because of her experience with Washington's vote-by-mail system. She's seen as being in tune with female candidates and, more importantly, female voters, who play a key role in deciding elections.
A D.C.-based Democratic operative lauded Murray for setting the right expectations: "I think she has done a good job of making folks realize that while a flip is possible — or even likely — in 2012, it is not a given."