Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair

Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair
© Greg Nash

Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSchumer urging ex-congressional candidate Amy McGrath to run against McConnell Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona Former McCain chief of staff says he will not run for Senate in Arizona in 2020 MORE (Nev.) is a top candidate to assume the chairmanship of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Senate buzz grows for Abrams after speech electrifies Dems 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 ReidSanders hires veteran progressive operative to manage 2020 bid Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment 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 McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE’s (R) seat.

The GOP will have to defend two seats in states won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil 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) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms 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.