By Alexandra Jaffe - 11/28/12 10:00 AM EST
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 BennetLawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill GOP ad calls Clinton 'a living history of scandal' Trump, GOP agree: ObamaCare helps us MORE (D-Colo.), who was offered the position by Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid: We're not breaking the budget deal Overnight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Overnight Healthcare: House loosens pesticide rules to fight Zika | A GOP bill that keeps some of ObamaCare | More proof of pending premium hikes 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 SchumerOvernight Healthcare: House, Senate on collision course over Zika funding Ryan goes all-in on Puerto Rico Cruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' 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 MoranPassing the Kelsey Smith Act will help law enforcement save lives Overnight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Senate GOP gears up for fight over Gitmo transfers 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 CapitoInvest in infrastructure to transform America Senate Republicans ask Trump to soften his tone Skittish GOP to Trump: Drop the insults 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 KlobucharDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World Dem senators: Slash executive pay at pension plans seeking benefit cuts MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Dems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz Defense bill renews fight over military sexual assault MORE (N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseHonor Frank Lautenberg by protecting our kids Senators take aim at 'armies of zombie computers' Dems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees 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 RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonHousing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads Regulators fret over FOIA reform bill MORE (D-S.D.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinDo candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? The Hill's 12:30 Report Mark Mellman: Parsing the primary processes 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.