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 BennetDems knock Trump on Earth Day Dem pushed plan for both sides to admit to abusing Senate rules: report Senators aim to extend federal conservation fund MORE (D-Colo.), who was offered the position by Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 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 SchumerCruz: 'Schumer and the Democrats want a shutdown' GOP fundraiser enters crowded primary for Pa. Senate seat Dems: Trump risks government shutdown over border wall 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 MoranAt the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security 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 CapitoRob Thomas: Anti-Trump celebs have become 'white noise' Congress nears deal on help for miners Overnight Energy: Lawmakers work toward deal on miners’ benefits 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 KlobucharDem labels infrastructure ‘top thing’ Trump can accomplish Wyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate Senators press the FCC on rural broadband affordability MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief Dems urge Trump to include Northeast Corridor tunnel project in infrastructure bill MORE (N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee The Hill's 12:30 Report Dem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiser 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 HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream 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.