Progressives push for Warren as next Senate Democratic leader

Progressives push for Warren as next Senate Democratic leader
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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) announcement Friday that he will not seek reelection next year has progressive groups licking their chops at the prospect of seeing Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall In shift, top CEOs say shareholder value not top goal MORE (D-Mass.) as the Democratic leader.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer, currently Democrats' No. 3 in the Senate, is the heavy favorite to succeed Reid, but progressive groups have other ideas. 

Democracy for America (DFA) is urging Warren to run for president, but says that if she passes, they’d back her or someone from her wing of the party as the next Democratic leader in the Senate.

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“There are real concerns about whether Chuck Schumer should be the frontrunner for leadership in the Senate among progressives,” DFA spokesman Neil Sroka told The Hill. “The Wall Street wing of the party, that Chuck has been close to, is dying, and the Warren wing is rising. So if Sen. Warren chooses not to run for president … she should run for leader of the Senate. She’d make a great leader.”

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee echoed that sentiment, predicting the race for Democratic leader won’t be a coronation for the establishment members of the party believed to be next in line.

“Her lifetime of fighting for the little guy against Wall Street power … shows she can think big, wage tough fights against powerful interests, and win key votes in the Senate,” the PCCC said in a statement. “She's the definition of a leader. … There will likely not be a coronation to replace Harry Reid as Senate Democratic Leader, and Elizabeth Warren is right up there with others as someone who would be taken very seriously."

Warren's office on Friday morning said she would not run for the leader's spot.

In addition to Schumer, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-Wash.) could be in the mix. 

But in Senate races playing out across the country, the progressive groups have shown they’re thirsty for new blood in the party. They credit Warren with bringing their primary initiatives, like the expansion of entitlement programs, into the mainstream.

Both the DFA and the PCCC cited Thursday's vote on a Warren amendment to expand Social Security benefits, which was backed by 42 Democrats in the Senate, as evidence the Massachusetts Democrat already has the gravitas to lead the party.

“Nearly the entirety of the Democratic caucus voted to expand Social Security benefits last night,” Sroka said. “She’s shown the ability to lead in the caucus and there’s no doubt she could be a real force for the party.”

Updated at 12:36 a.m.

Alexander Bolton contributed.