The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has made no contingency plans to make up for any potential drop in Chairwoman Patty Murray's fundraising abilities, despite the possibility that her new role as co-chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction will become an all-consuming responsibility.
However, the Washington state Democrat and other leaders say her dueling roles will not present a problem.
"I'm a multitasker. I'm doing great," Murray told Roll Call on Thursday, the same day she presided over the first meeting of the super committee with her co-chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
The next three months are crucial fundraising periods for campaign committees during an off-year, with chairmen often spending several hours a day dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers and other political events throughout the country. The next three months are also the exact time frame the deficit panel has been given to come up with a product that shaves at least $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit.
But Murray, who also serves as Democratic Conference secretary and Veterans' Affairs chairwoman, doesn't expect to miss a beat in trying to protect what appears at this point in the 2012 cycle to be a precarious, four-seat Senate majority. Of the 33 seats up for election, Democrats hold two-thirds. Several are in swing states or states that lean Republican. Meanwhile, Murray has assumed her leadership role on the super committee at a crucial moment on the 2011 political calendar.
This month, the campaign committees will focus on closing out their third-quarter fundraising with strong hauls. And with business days in December significantly curtailed by the holiday season, October and November constitute the last two months of the year for the campaign committees to aggressively rake in cash before 2012.
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) was known to spend as many as four hours per day on the phone — every day Congress was in session — during his four years leading the DSCC. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) maintains a similar schedule.
But Democrats insist Murray, a dogged campaigner, can absorb the extra work. "Patty Murray is a mother. Don't ever doubt a mother's ability to juggle all of that and more," said Jimmy Williams, a former senior adviser to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Over the years, chairmen of the DSCC and NRSC have tapped vice chairmen to help them with fundraising and other duties, as well as to groom future committee leaders. But not all campaign committee chairmen have chosen to do so — or have been able to secure the help. Murray does not have a vice chairman, although her fundraising effort has been boosted by several Democratic Senators.
Providing perhaps the most support has been Durbin, and he could be the Member the DSCC chairwoman turns to if she needs extra help at the committee between now and year's end. The Majority Whip has been among the DSCC's most active fundraisers, traveling the country about once a month to raise campaign cash for the committee, including to Nashville today for an event. Durbin declined to elaborate on what his role might be.
"Too many hypotheticals," the Illinois Democrat said, when asked whether he was prepared to pick up the slack for Murray. "I'm helping the DSCC."
Schumer, the Democratic Conference vice chairman and a fundraising powerhouse, is also contributing, according to a senior Democratic Senate aide.
Before the August recess, Murray and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked Schumer to help them to bolster the DSCC's fundraising. New York's senior Senator agreed to make phone calls at committee headquarters once a week, with last Wednesday constituting Schumer's first tour of duty on the phones since he agreed to help. Schumer is also headed to South Carolina at the end of September for a weekend fundraiser.
Murray is expected to co-host with Reid the DSCC's Annual Fall Reception on Tuesday evening, shortly after presiding over the super committee's first hearing, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Tickets run $1,000 for the reception at D.C.'s National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The Conference is indebted to Murray for accepting a second run at the DSCC — she was chairwoman in 2002 — after Reid failed to persuade anyone else available to take the job.
Murray has been widely praised by her colleagues for her direction of the DSCC thus far, which has included an overhaul of the committee's fundraising programs. Among those Members helping her raise money have been Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.), who is serving as chairwoman of the DSCC's Woman's Senate Network fundraising program, and Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.).
Although Murray does not have a vice chairman, others who were in her position have.
In Schumer's second stint running the DSCC, during the 2008 cycle, he appointed Sen. Bob Menendez as his vice chairman; the New Jerseyite went on to lead the committee in 2010. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) has served as vice chairman of the NRSC since the 2008 cycle, with Cornyn recently appointing failed 2010 California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina as a second vice chairwoman. Menendez did not have a vice chairman, although he did receive quiet help from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and a few others.