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But much of that was before Portman’s allies told reporters that he’s thinking about the gig. Moran’s boosters said his tea party appeal will help block primary challenges for potentially vulnerable Members such as Sens. Pat Roberts (Kan.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).
Still, Portman’s fundraising prowess make him the clear front-runner — if he wants the job. Other contenders, such as Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) indicated through aides that they’re not interested.
Senate Republicans plan to hold the NRSC election on Wednesday, according to a top aide.
Senate Democrats could take much longer to find a new head for their campaign arm.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not yet set a timetable to appoint a new DSCC chairman, according to his spokesman, Adam Jentleson. It took Reid several weeks (and a few rejected offers) before he convinced Murray to take the post last cycle.
Murray declined to say whether she is interested in running the DSCC for a second cycle in a row. She ran the committee in 2002 as well.
“I don’t know who will chair the DSCC in the next cycle,” Murray told reporters on a conference call.
If she doesn’t want another turn at the helm, Democratic aides immediately mentioned Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) as a contender. Bennet rebuffed Reid’s request to run the committee two years ago. But Bennet’s top aide, Guy Cecil, served as the DSCC’s executive director this cycle.
“The only conversations Sen. Bennet has had about the DSCC are about how proud he is of Guy Cecil for his excellent work this cycle actually picking up seats,” Bennet spokesman Adam Bozzi said.
Democrats praise Bennet’s comfort among the “Acela Corridor” crowd, as well as his ability to raise money in the Midwest and west and “not be completely out of his element.”
Otherwise, speculation about who might be tapped centered around Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) — all of whom just won re-election. A Klobuchar spokeswoman declined to comment, while Gillibrand and Whitehouse aides did not return requests for comment.
Gillibrand proved herself as a strong fundraiser who has already started to build a national donor network. But Democrats caution that she’s sought re-election for two cycles in a row since she was appointed to the Senate in early 2008. They emphasized that she might prefer a break from the fundraising circuit.
Klobuchar won re-election handily in a competitive state and boasts a donor base among the corporate community around the wealthy Twin Cities suburbs. But she’s also been mentioned as a potential appointment in a second Obama administration, perhaps as attorney general or even on the Supreme Court.
Whitehouse is also comfortable with business leaders and is viewed as a pragmatic Democrat. He was offered the job this cycle and turned it down because of his re-election bid.
Some Democrats argue that the next chairman has to be someone Senators would welcome a visit from in their home state, no matter how conservative the electorate is.