Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair

Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair
© Greg Nash

Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoHouse panel advances bill to create cybersecurity standards for government IT devices Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Dems get behind businesswoman challenging Joni Ernst MORE (Nev.) is a top candidate to assume the chairmanship of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenTrump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties 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 ReidSenators briefed on US Navy's encounters with UFOs: report Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Trump weighs in on UFOs in Stephanopoulos interview 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 McCainVeterans group to hand out USS John McCain T-shirts for July 4 on the National Mall Will we ever have another veteran as president? Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE’s (R) seat.

The GOP will have to defend two seats in states won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 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) TesterVA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Democrats aim to block defense money from being used on Trump border wall 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.