New York Senator Charles Schumer formally declared his bid on Friday to become the next U.S. Senate Democratic leader after the current leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said he was retiring, according to news sources.
Schumer's announcement came on the heels of Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin's assertion that he supported Schumer and would not seek to fill Reid's spot.
Reid's announcement Friday
that he would not seek re-election next year after 30 years in the Senate has already sparked off speculation about who might fill his shoes.
He quickly gave Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who holds the No. 3 leadership spot, a huge boost by endorsing him in an interview with The Washington Post
soon after revealing his retirement plans.
"I think Schumer should be able to succeed me," Reid told the Post.
Two other top contenders who might seek to replace the 75-year-old as their party leader are Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a close confidant of Reid.
For months since his exercise accident on New Year's Day, Reid has been working closely with all three lawmakers, bringing them to his weekly press conference, Roll Call
said. All are known for being skilled legislators.
Schumer is already widely seen as the early favorite and frontrunner, according to The Wall Street Journal
. In addition to his leadership role in the Senate, he is the chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee responsible for Democratic messaging.
"It's Schumer, no question about it," one former aide said, according to The Washington Examiner
"Harry is one of the best human beings I've ever met. His character and fundamental decency are at the core of why he's been such a successful and beloved leader," Schumer said in a statement, according to Roll Call.
"He's so respected by our caucus for his strength, his legislative acumen, his honesty and his determination. He has left a major mark on this body, this country, and on so many who have met him, gotten to know him, and love him."
Durbin is also a strong contender given he is in constant contact with the caucus in his status as whip, and he is respected for his policy expertise and legislative record, USA Today
Murray, meanwhile, is the highest ranking woman in the Senate Democratic leadership, the Journal noted. The former chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee won respect for forging the bipartisan budget deal with her House counterpart, Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, and she has twice run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Murray also issued a statement, according to Roll Call.
"I owe so much to Harry for everything he has done, and for everything he continues to do, to help me fight for my constituents and for families across the country," Murray said.
"He has asked me to take on some tough jobs over the years, but I have always appreciated the trust he placed in me, the work he did to make sure I had the space I needed to get the job done, and the knowledge that, no matter what, Harry had my back and was going to fight for what was right."
Party insiders said, however, that Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts could be a favorite of activists looking to shake up the party hierarchy, USA Today said, and satisfy those who want to see a woman in a leadership position.
"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," the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group, said in a statement, according to the USA Today.
Other possibilities for promotions include Jon Tester of Montana, who currently heads the DSCC, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Mark Warner of Virginia, all of whom currently hold leadership positions that could change in the next Congress, the National Journal
Reid became majority leader in 2007. He served as the main point person in the Senate for President Barack Obama, helping to secure the passage of Obamacare in the face of fierce Republican opposition. His rivalry with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is well documented.
Reid told The New York Times
his decision had nothing to do with his accident or his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November's midterm elections.
"I want to be able to go out at the top of my game," Reid told the Times. "I don't want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter."
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