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DSCC Expects Murray to Juggle Duties

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

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.

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