Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair

Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair
© Greg Nash

Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoYemen resolution picks up crucial support in Senate Senate panel advances Trump’s energy nominee despite Dem objections The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE (Nev.) is a top candidate to assume the chairmanship of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenators prepare for possibility of Christmas in Washington during a shutdown Dem senator on Trump-Russia: No evidence yet ‘in terms of criminal collusion’ House Dems talking more about impeaching Trump MORE (Md.), the outgoing chairman of the DSCC, is pushing Cortez Masto’s name, and it appears her candidacy has strong momentum, according to Senate Democratic sources.

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Van Hollen praised Cortez Masto’s support for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

“She did a very good job as head of the Women’s Senate Network this cycle,” he told The Hill, referring to the DSCC’s program to elect more women to office and reach out to female voters.

Democrats took over the House majority last week thanks largely to the support of college-educated suburban women, a crucial constituency to picking up Senate seats in 2020.

Democratic candidates appealed to this bloc by stressing health care as an issue in the fall campaign.

Cortez Masto also represents — and has ready access to the fundraising hub of — Las Vegas.

In April, she pledged to raise $1.5 million for Democratic candidates in Nevada.

Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidManchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives Water wars won’t be won on a battlefield Poll finds most Americans and most women don’t want Pelosi as Speaker MORE (Nev.) hand-picked her to run for his seat in 2016.

Cortez Masto said she’s talking to colleagues about the DSCC job.

“I’m having conversations now and I don’t have anything further to say until we have a final answer,” she said.

2020 is shaping up to be a good year for Senate Democrats.

Republicans will have 22 seats to defend, including a special election in Arizona for the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump will likely win reelection in 2020 Kevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 Kasich on death of 7-year-old in Border Patrol custody: 'Shame on Congress' MORE’s (R) seat.

The GOP will have to defend two seats in states won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMemo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report Trump will likely win reelection in 2020 Lanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump MORE in 2016: Colorado and Maine.

Depending on the outcome of the recount in the Florida Senate race and the runoff in Mississippi, Senate Republicans will control 51 to 53 seats next Congress.

Van Hollen touted Cortez Masto during a meeting with Democratic colleagues Wednesday afternoon.

He said she would be a good pick unless anyone else was interested, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

When Van Hollen looked around the room to gauge the possibility of competing interest, no one jumped up to throw their hat in the ring, according to the source.

Van Hollen declined to comment on his conversations with colleagues.

“I don’t think there’s anything official yet so I’m not going to comment on it right now,” he said.

Van Hollen told The Hill on Tuesday that he’s not interested in serving another election cycle as DSCC chairman. 

Some colleagues floated the possibility that Van Hollen could serve back-to-back stints because they thought he did a good job. He previously served two cycles as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as a member of the House.

Other previous DSCC chairmen said they weren’t interested in coming back to head the Senate Democrats’ fundraising arm.

“I’m out. You can put me down as a definite no,” said Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure Senate confirms Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold MORE (D-Mont.), who chaired the panel in the 2016 cycle.

The DSCC chairman’s job has been a difficult one to fill, as it requires a huge time commitment.

But it can be worth it, as Democrats usually reward whoever shoulders the burden.

Van Hollen, for example, was given a coveted slot on the Appropriations Committee.