Updated: 5:13 p.m.
Following weeks of speculation, Sen. Patty Murray formally announced Tuesday that she will serve as chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee next year.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced the Washington state Democrat as the new DSCC chairwoman, calling her “an experienced, strong hand” to lead the campaign arm for the 2012 cycle. She also led the DSCC in 2002.
Murray will replace outgoing DSCC Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) as 23 incumbents face re-election in 2012 in a host of battleground states. Murray, who will retain her current title of Conference secretary, acknowledged the uphill challenge at a news conference following Democrats’ weekly caucus luncheon, during which she announced to colleagues that she would serve as the DSCC’s leader.
“I’m not agreeing to chair the DSCC because it’s easy; I’m doing it because our country is facing tough times and we need tough leaders who will make our economy and jobs the top priority,” she said.
Murray met in recent weeks with Reid and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who is a former Senate staffer, in a multifront charm offensive that appears to have been successful, but they are still nailing down details.
According to a Democratic Senate aide, a host of Members also approached Murray on Monday night during a floor vote to encourage her to take over the DSCC next year.
Murray emerged as the most likely pick in recent weeks after a handful of Democrats, including Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.), turned down the job. Schumer had previously served two terms as DSCC chairman.