Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) appears to be emerging as the leading contender to steer the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) continues to cast about for someone willing to become the party’s top political strategist for the 2012 cycle.
Unlike other Senators who have been asked by Reid, sources confirmed that Murray also received a push from White House deputy chief of staff and former Senate staffer Jim Messina on Thursday — a fact first reported by the Washington Post.
One senior Senate Democratic source said Reid and the White House have decided to “up the pressure” on Murray and that “pressure breeds actual consideration.”
However, it was unclear whether she was seriously considering taking the job, but as the Senate Democratic source said, “as other people continue to say no, some people are legitimately turning their focus to her.”
Murray, who already serves in Democratic leadership as Conference secretary, has been reluctant to return to a role she held for the 2002 cycle, when the post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack atmosphere and the Bush administration’s runup to the Iraq war caused Democrats to lose their narrow 51-49 majority.
Though Democrats lost seats in that election, Murray got credit for being a prolific fundraiser, a reputation that has only been enhanced over the years particularly since she joined the leadership ranks in 2007.
Other people who have declined Reid’s entreaties include Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.), Mark Warner (Va.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.). But sources have repeatedly cautioned that it often takes more than one request before a Senator agrees to take on the job.
This year the task appears even more daunting, given that Democrats will be defending 23 seats in a presidential election year. The loss of the House majority and six seats in the Senate on Nov. 2 have also made it harder to fill the DSCC chairmanship.