Update, 1:30 p.m. | Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2014 cycle, as Democrats look to hold their newly expanded majority.
“Michael is one of the brightest rising stars in the Democratic Party, and he is exactly the right person to lead our efforts over the next two years,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement Tuesday. “Not only does Michael know how to win tough races, he has the trust and loyalty of the entire Democratic caucus behind him.”
Bennet, who turned down the job two years ago, was the top choice, and Reid was expected to inform Senate Democrats of the decision Tuesday during the party’s weekly lunch.
Joining Bennet at the DSCC will be his former chief of staff, Guy Cecil, who returns to the committee for a second straight cycle as executive director. Cecil oversaw the committee’s efforts in 2012, when Senate Democrats defied expectations and picked up two seats.
At the outset of the 2012 cycle, Republicans were optimistic they could win back Senate control, with Democrats defending more than twice as many seats and holding just a 53-47 majority. The GOP flipped seven seats in the 2010 cycle.
The sheer numbers favor Republicans again in 2014, as Democrats are defending 20 seats to 13 for Republicans. However, after a successful 2012, Democrats will have a 55-45 majority in the next Congress, making it all the more difficult for a GOP comeback.
“The best thing that happened to 2014 was picking up two seats in 2012,” Cecil said last month in an interview with CQ Roll Call, “because it gives the overall map a little bit of breathing room, a little bit of latitude in terms of what is the best path to maintain the majority.”
Bennet was appointed to the Senate in January 2009 and elected to a full term in 2010. Shortly after Cecil helped lead Bennet to a 2-point win that year, Bennet was approached to take the helm of the committee. Ultimately, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington took the chairmanship and left the committee in strong shape for 2014.
Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas was elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Nov. 14. He named Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz as co-chairmen. Moran took over for Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who was elected minority whip.
Update 1:30 p.m.: In a brief interview outside the Senate luncheon, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is up for re-election in 2014, called the choice of Bennet "excellent."