Murray backs Schumer for leader
© Greg Nash

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHouse passes bill to combat gender pay gap Schumer kicks into reelection mode Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act MORE (Wash.) is backing Sen. Charles SchumerChuck Schumer'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia MORE (N.Y.) to lead Senate Democrats after the 2016 elections, removing the last obstacle in his path to the prized position.

Murray, who was considered a potential rival to succeed Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison White House races clock to beat GOP attacks MORE (Nev.), has spoken with Schumer "several times" and told the New York Democrat that she plans to support him. 

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"Senator Murray spoke to Senator Schumer several times over the past few days and told him that she planned to support him for leader next Congress and looks forward to continuing to be his partner in Senate Democratic leadership," a Murray aide said. 

Murray's endorsement was first reported by Roll Call

She is currently the No. 4 Democrat, serving as the conference secretary. She was also chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2012 election cycle, when Senate Democrats beat expectations by picking up two seats. 

A person close to Schumer told The Hill last week that the New York Democrat believes he will have enough support to succeed Reid, who is retiring at the end of his current term. 

Several Senate Democrats, including Minority Whip Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' For a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap MORE (Ill.), have publicly backed Schumer, who is currently the No. 3 Senate Democrat.

Reid announced his retirement Friday, setting off speculation on who would be next to lead Senate Democrats. Speaking on KNPR Nevada public radio, the Nevada senator predicted that Schumer would be elected to succeed him.

"Chuck SchumerChuck Schumer'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia MORE, everybody knows, has been my lieutenant for a lot of years," he said. "He will be elected to replace me in 22 months. I think one reason that will happen is because I want him to be my replacement."

Schumer, if successful, would become the first Jewish majority leader in the Senate if Democrats regain control during the 2016 elections.