Senate Democrats are struggling to find a leader for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) even as Republicans lay the groundwork to win back the upper chamber in 2014.
Party leaders say they are unconcerned that Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE (D-Colo.), who was offered the position by Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.) earlier this month, has not yet made his decision, insisting that it was too early to think about 2014.
“We haven’t even finished this year,” she said.
And Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerDem to Trump: 'You truly are an evil man' Dem senator: GOP controls all of gov't, so success or failure is on them Trump tweets: We’ll put together a great plan after Obamacare explodes MORE (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democrat and a former DSCC chairman, insisted, “We have a chairman!” — Murray.
Bennet’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Democrats were in a similar position two years ago, when several senators — including Bennet — passed on the job out of concern it would be too difficult of a challenge. The party was expected to lose seats to the Republicans in the 2012 cycle.
But Murray took the position and picked up two seats for the party, in addition to increasing her stature among her colleagues.
Much like last cycle, the new committee chairman will play a significant role in fundraising and recruiting candidates to run in 2014. And whoever it is faces a difficult battle in protecting the Senate Democratic majority.
Republicans, meanwhile, elected Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranGOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Kan.) to head the National Republican Senatorial Committee and already have a strong recruit for one possible pickup: Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoPence pushes Manchin in home state to support Gorsuch GOP govs: ObamaCare repeal bill shifts 'significant' costs to states Here's how Congress can get people to live healthy lifestyles MORE announced a bid for West Virginia’s Senate seat.
Out of the four congressional campaign committees, the DSCC remains the only one without a leader.
Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFCC: Over 12,000 callers couldn’t reach 911 during AT&T outage Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal Chelsea Clinton to be honored by Variety, Lifetime Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward MORE (N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDems introduce MAR-A-LAGO Act to publish visitor logs Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (R.I.) have also been floated as options for the position, but a spokeswoman for Gillibrand said the senator isn’t interested. Klobuchar’s and Whitehouse’s offices did not respond to a request for comment.
Murray has been widely praised for her role in raising millions to help the DSCC defend vulnerable incumbents, and for successfully recruiting strong candidates to run in difficult races in red-leaning states like Wisconsin and Indiana — two seats that the Democrats won.
The new chairman’s task looks similarly daunting, with 20 Democratic incumbents up for reelection and at least four — Sens. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerObama to preserve torture report in presidential papers Lobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa) — looking ripe for retirement.
Another 13 Republicans are up for reelection in 2014, and Democrats are sure to play offense in those races, but doing so will require strong recruits.
But a former Senate Democratic aide familiar with Reid’s thinking dismissed questions surrounding Bennet’s timeline, noting that Murray took her time in deciding to head the committee in November 2010.
“It’s far too early to start worrying about that,” the aide said.
The aide said that a decision needs to be made by the end of the year, but in the meantime, Reid can handle many of the traditional responsibilities of a DSCC chairman, including convincing vulnerable Senate incumbents to run again in 2014.
“The [DSCC] can run largely on autopilot while the senator decides what to do,” the aide said.