BOSTON — Having won the backing of the entire leadership team, New York's Charles E. Schumer might become the next Senate Democratic leader by acclamation. Conference Secretary Patty Murray, D-Wash., has joined in endorsing Schumer for the top job when Nevada Democrat Harry Reid retires at the beginning of 2017, according to a Murray aide.
"Senator Murray spoke to Senator Schumer several times over the past few days and told him that she planned to support him for leader next Congress and looks forward to continuing to be his partner in Senate Democratic leadership," the aide told CQ Roll Call.
Murray has long had a large portfolio within the Democratic caucus, and she's likely to only expand on those responsibilities in the next Congress.
The news from Murray, which shouldn't come as a terrible surprise, comes after Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., predicted the caucus would unite behind Schumer. Stabenow said Sunday night she was "proud to be the first call he made after he was allowed to talk."
"He and I work really, really closely together on DPCC," the Michigan Democrat said of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, where Stabenow serves as the vice chairwoman under Schumer's chairmanship of the unified operation that's been intertwined with Reid's office.
"Chuck has all of the pieces from smart policy wonk to political genius, and everyone in the caucus is supporting him," Stabenow said. "Everybody is."
Stabenow told CQ Roll Call Sunday night that she had a conversation with Murray before the Washington state lawmaker flew across the country Friday, before a series of rapid developments that day.
"You know, Chuck has earned the support of everyone, and I was on the phone with many, many people on Friday supporting him," Stabenow said.
Stabenow made the comments at a reception ahead of a gala dinner before Monday morning's opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.
In a matter of hours Friday, Reid had announced in a New York Times interview his plan to retire when his current term ends in 22 months and told the Washington Post he would support Schumer to succeed him in the leadership suite.
Then, it became public that potential rival Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., had already informed Schumer he had no intention of mounting a challenge for the top job, and that he would support his leadership counterpart from New York. At the Kennedy Institute site, Sen. Edward J. Markey joined Stabenow in predicting an orderly transition.
"Harry Reid is a great leader, and Chuck Schumer is going to be a great leader. The baton has been tossed to a new generation ... but it's one that will be able to do the job in a very historic way," the Massachusetts Democrat said.
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