Sen. Al Franken has taken himself out of the running to serve as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, his spokesman said Wednesday.
The Minnesota Democrat was considered among Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (Nev.) top choices to serve as DSCC chairman for the 2012 election cycle in large part because of his fundraising prowess. The first-term lawmaker spent much of this year campaigning for his Democratic colleagues and over the past two years has doled out $238,000 in contributions through his Midwest Values leadership political action committee.
“Senator Franken is not interested in chairing the DSCC,” spokeswoman Casey Aden-Wansbury said. “He’s focused on serving the people of Minnesota.”
Reid’s office has stayed mum about DSCC negotiations and declined comment.
As Majority Leader, Reid has the power to appoint one of his colleagues to lead the DSCC. With 23 members of the Democratic caucus up for re-election in 2012, including in several battleground states, the Nevadan has had a difficult time finding someone to take on such a challenging role. Still, Senate aides noted that it took Reid repeated requests to get DSCC Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) on board, and he will likely have to do the same again this year.
“It always takes two or three or four times to get somebody,” a senior Democratic aide pointed out.
The aide also suggested Reid is just in the early negotiating stages and that “I don’t think there’s been a hard ask or pressure.”
While some Democrats viewed Franken as a promising choice because of his fundraising chops, others said a Member with closer ties to the business community would be a wiser pick. Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), whom many view as the best candidate to lead the DSCC next year, has all but sworn he would not take the job under any circumstances. Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who led the campaign committee in the 2006 and 2008 cycles, said last weekend he would not take on another term.
“There’s no coalescing around any of the freshmen after Warner,” the senior Democratic aide said.
Menendez has said he will not serve another term at the DSCC because he will be running for re-election in 2012. A few others who might otherwise be a good fit, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), also face the voters next cycle and are therefore out of the running for the DSCC spot. Reid will likely have to persuade a Member elected during the 2008 cycle to take on the job. Among among those candidates, Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are attractive choices, but either would need persuading.
“I’m flattered to be considered for the position,” Udall said in a statement. “My focus right now is on Colorado’s priorities, including creating jobs and reducing our national debt.”