Sen. Richard J. Durbin says he has the votes to remain Democratic whip two years from now — although senators asked by CQ Roll Call are loath to publicly declare their support and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington has yet to rule out a run.
“I’m confident I have the support to be re-elected whip,” the Illinois Democrat told CQ Roll Call Thursday. Ever since Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced he would not run for another term in the Senate, speculation has run hot over a possible whip race, with Murray repeatedly refusing to rule out a challenge. (Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York quickly wrapped up the title of Reid heir apparent after Durbin, Murray and others quickly endorsed him.)
The potential race is one many Democrats would prefer stay in the shadows.
None of the nine Democrats asked by CQ Roll Call whom they would back would publicly declare their support for either Durbin or Murray.
"The only people who care about this are reporters," said Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "It’s [many] months away ... and we’ll figure it out then and we’ll all get along just fine."
Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut said he'd talked to Durbin already, but not Murray, and he added he was unsure whether he'd ever announce his support for a candidate publicly.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said he'd "communicated with [Durbin] about my feelings and I’m not ready to commit them publicly."
Schumer, a former Durbin roommate, said it was way too soon to talk about the whip position and he is mainly focused on "passing legislation and stopping Republicans from doing bad things."
Murray spokesman Eli Zupnick said she is not privately reaching out to other senators angling for the whip position or any others.
"Senator Murray is focused on her current job and isn't going to be speculating about other positions under Senator Schumer in leadership elections nearly two years from now," Zupnick said.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday on comments Durbin had made earlier saying he had the votes.
"I’ve made it clear that I’d like to continue in leadership," Durbin said about a month ago in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "I’ve reached out to the Democratic Caucus and had almost 30 of my colleagues say that they’ll stand behind me in the effort. So I’m looking forward to sitting down with my colleagues and clarifying the situation.”
Related: Dick Durbin, Honky Tonk Man (Video) Meet the New Boss. Not the Same as the Old Boss Senate Democrats Fall in Behind Schumer Cornyn Redefines His Role as Senate GOP Whip The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.