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Reid’s Next Challenge: Finding DSCC Chairman

File Photo
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might look to former DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer (left) or Sen. Mark Warner (right) to take the helm of the campaign committee for what could be a tough 2012 cycle for Democrats.

Freshman Sen. Mark Warner may be Senate Democrats’ first choice to take over as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but he insists he doesn’t want the job. So getting him to agree to the position is going to require some serious lobbying from Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.). 

Warner, Virginia governor from 2002 to 2005 and briefly a 2008 presidential candidate, has strong fundraising connections, political instincts and a well-known workhorse demeanor, making him a clear favorite among his Democratic colleagues to take over at the DSCC. Some suggest Warner’s apprehension is due to the 55-year-old Democrat’s own ambitions, which might include a presidential bid, while others looking at 2012’s tough electoral map say running the DSCC might be an unattractive assignment.

Whatever the reason, Reid will have to do some begging. 

“I would take his ‘No, no, no’ seriously, but I’d keep an eye on him,” one Democratic lobbyist suggested of Warner. “He’s the only relatively pro-business Member around that’s not up, and that’s what you need at the DSCC.”

Likewise a Senate Democratic aide said Warner remains “the top choice, but he’s been pretty convincing in saying no.”

Reid’s electoral victory in Nevada this week stemmed off a potentially bruising battle for the Majority Leader spot, but with that issue now moot, it appears the Democrats’ major leadership headache is who will take on the DSCC job. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) is expected to coast to another term and could announce his intent to run by next week. 

Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), whose run as DSCC chairman during the 2006 and 2008 election cycles yielded the Democratic takeover and major gains, is another caucus-wide favorite to take the helm.

With 23 incumbents to defend in 2012, including nine Schumer steered to electoral victories in 2006, Congressional aides and K Street sources say the New Yorker would cement his chops as a political kingmaker if he can bring home some wins in politically tough states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and Virginia next cycle. Schumer’s office declined to comment.

Sources said Reid will have to offer something to get Warner or anyone else to take the job.

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