Who’s Next in Line to Run Campaign Arms?
The Senate majority is up for grabs this cycle, but whoever takes the reins of the Senate campaign committees next year will likely have to contend with a small margin of power in the chamber.
Next cycle will be particularly tough for Senate Democrats, who had a hard enough time finding a chairman this cycle.
The chairmen are chosen differently in each caucus: The Democratic leader appoints the DSCC chairman, while the NRSC chairman is elected by the GOP Conference.
Traditionally, Senators up for re-election cannot take the chairmanship. So Senate Democrats can stop dreaming about tapping Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) because he’s up in 2014.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Michael Bennet (Colo.)
He was the original consensus choice to take over the DSCC this cycle before Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) was in the mix. But after winning a full term by just 2 points, Bennet declined to take the post.
His qualifications are obvious. He knows how to win a competitive race in a bad environment, he’s a good fundraiser and he’s well-liked within the caucus. His former top political aide, Guy Cecil, already serves as the DSCC’s executive director, which would make for an easy transition.
So now that he’s had some time to breathe since 2010, would he reconsider for 2014? Democrats can dream, but insiders say Bennet likes policy more than politics and won’t take this job.
Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
She is on track to win two Senate races in consecutive cycles after her 2009 appointment took her from the House to the Senate.
While neither of her recent contests have proved to be tough electoral challenges, Gillibrand developed an incredible national fundraising network in the process. She would bring those connections, as well as her rainmaking skills in New York City, to the DSCC gig.
Gillibrand has shown ambition ever since she was elected to Congress in 2006 . This job would be a
steppingstone for her into Senate leadership, but it could also help her continue to build a national political network if she wanted to run for even higher office some day.
Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)
The Minnesota lawmaker is on track to easily win a second term, boasting some of the highest approval ratings of any Senator up for re-election. She has thwarted any potential challengers in a competitive state — a teachable skill for next cycle when Democrats will be playing defense.
Klobuchar is a good fundraiser, too — another top qualification for the gig. There’s money in Minnesota. It’s not in the same financial stratosphere as the New York donor market, but it has emerged as one of the most reliable secondary states to fundraise.
Finally, Klobuchar is a good messenger. She speaks well with reporters and on cable news television. Plus, as one of the youngest Democratic Senators, she could pave the way for the next generation of leaders.
Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) (if they win re-election)
National Republican Senatorial Committee
Roy Blunt (Mo.)
The Capitol Hill veteran easily won his race — a contest that most viewed as competitive in the first part of the cycle. After seven terms in the House, Blunt knows exactly how this city operates and where to find the extra funds to fuel a campaign committee.
Republicans see him as a strong communicator. He’s also well-liked by his colleagues, which he proved with his recent election as Conference vice chairman.
But now that he’s already in leadership, would he want this travel-heavy job? Blunt might see the NRSC as a lateral move, and he has a young family that could make his current static spot more alluring.
Blunt has been mum about this or any other future prospects. But Republicans would be lucky to have him take over the NRSC following Sen. John Cornyn’s (Texas) two-term reign.
Richard Burr (N.C.)
This two-term Senator is running against Cornyn for GOP Whip next year. If Cornyn is victorious, Burr could take on the NRSC job for 2014.
But a Burr chairmanship wouldn’t be just happenstance. He’s a good fit for the job. He won a tough race in 2004 against former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. He began the 2010 cycle with a target on his back, and Democrats quickly pointed him out as one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election.
But Burr skated to another term in a good GOP year, raising and spending $10 million in the process.
His electoral experience, plus his long track record on Capitol Hill — not to mention his cozy relationship with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — make him a good choice for the position.
Bob Corker (Tenn.)
His re-election to a second term looks like a sure thing this cycle, so what can the former Chattanooga mayor do next year? The NRSC slot would be a logical move if he’s looking to get into leadership.
Corker is liked among his colleagues, and he’s a good fundraiser.
While Tennessee isn’t as fertile financially as Texas, Corker has made it work, as his $7.4 million war chest proves.
Republicans hesitate slightly about Corker’s interest in this position. He has exercised more of his wonky side since he arrived in the Senate. Insiders wonder whether he has the political instincts to run the committee.
But, all in all, Republicans see Corker as a good choice, if he’s interested.
Marco Rubio (Fla.), Pat Toomey (Pa.)
No matter what the scoreboard looks like after Election Day 2012, the future House campaign committee chairmen will encounter tough challenges next cycle.
The grueling pace of these often-thankless gigs cannot be underestimated — from the nonstop travel for fundraising and recruiting to begging colleagues for dues.
Just like in the Senate, the Democratic leader appoints the campaign committee chief and the Republican Conference elects its campaign committee chairman.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Joe Crowley (N.Y.)
The seven-term lawmaker has repeatedly made it clear that he’s interested in ascending the House leadership ladder. He’s a member of DCCC leadership, runs the New Democrat Coalition and serves on the Ways and Means Committee.
This cycle, he’s put in the work for the DCCC, raising at least $5 million so far for the committee. That’s more than any other House Democrat except DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), according to a recent dues tally.
Crowley is also liked among his colleagues, many of whom lobbied hard on his behalf to get him that plum committee spot. That’s a good qualification for a man who could be hitting up the same folks for dues next year.
But sources cautioned that Crowley always seems to play the bridesmaid, never the bride, in these situations. He’s always in the mix for a big gig, such as DCCC chairman, but he doesn’t get it. Maybe 2014 will finally be his chance.
Allyson Schwartz (Pa.)
Out of this trio, no one is hustling for this gig like Schwartz. She regularly talks to candidates and aggressively raises money for them. The four-term lawmaker is one of only a handful of House Democrats who have already reached their DCCC dues goal halfway through the cycle.
If offered this spot, Schwartz will almost certainly take it. Her supporters boast that she brings the entire package to the table: recruitment skills, strong fundraising and political acumen.
Here’s another plus in her column: Schwartz isn’t necessarily close with Pelosi, but she’s in much better standing with the leader than Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If Pelosi sticks around next Congress and Israel refuses a second round at the DCCC, Schwartz is a solid option.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.)
Democrats extoll her fundraising. The party would be hard-pressed to find a House Democrat with more on-camera and message experience to take this gig, although she’s received flak for some of her more outrageous comments.
But there’s some doubt that she would be interested in the DCCC chairmanship after leading the Democratic National Committee this cycle. A decade ago, that career move equated a demotion for a Member. That might not be the case in the post-Rahm Emanuel campaign committee era.
Either way, whether Wasserman Schultz is offered this gig is out of her control. There’s no love lost between her and Pelosi, who is highly unlikely to appoint her.
But if House Democrats lose seats for the second cycle in a row, Pelosi’s future as leader will be in question. In that case, the younger class of House Democrats would likely push Wasserman Schultz for this post or an even higher leadership position.
Jim Himes (Conn.), Bruce Braley (Iowa)
National Republican Congressional Committee
Tim Griffin (Ark.)
House Republicans can’t say enough about Griffin’s qualifications for this job. A former opposition research director for the Republican National Committee, the freshman has the mind of an operative and the fundraising skills of a seasoned Member.
He’s been called one of Karl Rove’s protégés. When questioned recently about the most likely next NRCC chairman, one senior House Republican said Griffin’s name without hesitation.
But it’s no secret that Griffin has statewide ambitions. He’s eyeing a bid against Sen. Mark Pryor (D) or for the open governor’s office in 2014, which would take him out of contention for the NRCC post.
Nonetheless, if Griffin sticks around, his colleagues say they could easily see him in this position. Not a bad first impression for a guy who’s been in Congress only a little more than a year.
Greg Walden (Ore.)
As the current NRCC deputy chairman, Walden is a natural choice to be the next chairman. He’s well-liked among his colleagues, and he has fundraising chops. He was tasked with raising money from K Street for the NRCC last cycle.
Walden wins the staffers’ choice award, too (although they obviously don’t vote for NRCC chairman). He’s a former chief of staff and press secretary, and his communication skills in the media are top-notch.
Walden would probably have to give up his subcommittee chairmanship on Energy and Commerce to take the NRCC gig. After two cycles at the top of the committee’s leadership, maybe that will be enough to propel him up the leadership food chain without running the NRCC.
Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.)
The man in charge of redistricting for House Republicans this cycle will be able to boast several successes if he runs for NRCC chairman next year. The maps were stacked in his favor, but Westmoreland has done a solid job overseeing the once-in-a-decade process — and, as a result, he now knows almost every House district inside and out.
The Georgia lawmaker has leadership ambitions and has shown an interest in NRCC top slots. Before his current job, he served as recruitment chairman for the committee.
Westmoreland would also bring a different personality to the table than the aforementioned choices. His brash and frank speaking style is punctuated by his Southern drawl. Yet even his detractors can’t argue with his experience and track record with the committee.
Steve Stivers (Ohio), Steve Scalise (La.)