Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Leadership Post

Almost two years ago today, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was able to cajole Chuck Schumer into remaining in the Senate (rather than making a run for Governor in New York) and chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee by offering him both a much-coveted seat on the Finance Committee. Though some have remaining complaints about the job Schumer has done at the DSCC (his role, perceived or real, in the Ohio Senate primary is much cited), few can judge his overall tenure as anything less than an overwhelming success.

Now, as Alex Bolton reports for The Hill, Reid has once again offered Schumer an enticement to chair the DSCC, this time by creating a new leadership position within the Senate Democratic caucus just for Schumer.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who played an instrumental role in helping Democrats regain majority control of the Senate, has been rewarded with the third-ranking post in the Senate Democratic leadership.

In return for the promotion, Schumer will again lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in the 2008 election cycle.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) announced to colleagues during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he has created a new position in the leadership for Schumer. The new post, vice chairman of the caucus, will rank behind Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the incoming majority whip, and ahead of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the incoming Democratic conference secretary.

The deal creating the new position was still being negotiated between Schumer and Democratic leaders yesterday afternoon. Democratic sources said yesterday that Schumer would serve another election cycle as chairman of the DSCC. But also yesterday afternoon Schumer said that while Reid and Durbin had asked him to serve another cycle, he was not yet prepared to announce his plans.

With several great opportunities for the Democrats to pick up even more Senate seats in two years, it's important for the DSCC to have as its chair someone with a strong fundraising capability and a track record of success not only at recruiting strong candidates but also at actually wining elections.

I don't mean to overstate the importance of fundraising or to minimize the role the national political environment plays in the results of Senate elections around the country. In 2004, then-DSCC Chairman Jon Corzine did a fine job at both raising money and finding top-notch candidates only to see the Democrats net a loss of four seats in the Senate. It would be unfair to blame the losses of Tony Knowles in Alaska, Brad Carson in Oklahoma, Betty Castor in Florida, Erskine Bowles in North Carolina and others on Corzine just as it would be wrong to give Schumer all the credit for the Democrats' perhaps surprising gain of six Senate seats one week ago.

Nonetheless, with both his experience and his track record, Chuck Schumer brings a lot to the DSCC. So kudos once again to Harry Reid for maneuvering to put Schumer in that position and help maximize the Democrats' chances at winning more seats in the United States Senate.

Tags: Chuck Schumer, DSCC, Senate 2008 (all tags)

Comments

30 Comments

Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Hopefully Reid will tell his #3 to stay out of the Montana Senate Primary.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-14 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

huh? Who's going to challenge Baucus? I haven't heard anything about this - and I'm not inclined to think highly of it.

by bluenc 2006-11-14 11:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

must be a good idea

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Oh, yes, getting rid of a popular Democratic incumbent in what, for all the positive trends, is still a Republican-leaning state is a brilliant idea.  Did you notice that Tester, for all his talent and all the polls showing him far ahead, just barely eked out a 0.4% win over the most corrupt Republican in the Senate?  You don't think the Republicans can't come up with a challenger much stronger than Burns if we do them the favor of opening the seat in our primary?  Primarying Liarman in Connecticut made sense (or would have, if he had abided by the results), because Connecticut is deep blue; the winner of our primary would have been heavily favored over the Republican.  Primarying Baucus makes no sense -- in an election for an open seat in Montana, the Republican will be favored, and you can bet the NRSC will pour millions in there if they see an opportunity to make up for the loss of Burns.  Worse yet, if Baucus is replaced by a more liberal Democrat, some of the conservative and libertarian Democrats who make up his base of support are likely to defect to the Republican out of resentment.

by Alex 2006-11-15 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Oh, yes, getting rid of a popular Democratic incumbent in what, for all the positive trends, is still a Republican-leaning state is a brilliant idea.  Did you notice that Tester, for all his talent and all the polls showing him far ahead, just barely eked out a 0.4% win over the most corrupt Republican in the Senate?  You don't think the Republicans can't come up with a challenger much stronger than Burns if we do them the favor of opening the seat in our primary?

Congressman Dennis Rehberg is going to run for the seat, he's wanted it since the early '90s. This opens up the house seat (Dems have a great bench, GOP doesn't and they have to run someone against Schweitzer). Rehberg is tied up in the INSA scandal which is far, far worse than anything that hit Burns, which positions Dems for the trifecta to usher in Schweitzer's second term.

And just to remind you, in a one vote Senate, Baucus is the GOP's go-to guy for a flip that let's Cheney decide the vote.

When the Joe Lieberman weekly calls his undermining, "Rank Disloyalty" you need to keep your eye on him. William Greider at The Nation called him Senator Sellout. For the American Prospect, big media Matt wrote about the stunt Baucus pulled on Medicare:

As the ranking member (and, for a period, chairman) of the Finance Committee, arguably the Senate's most powerful, Baucus, who underwent successful brain surgery on Jan. 9, has not only voted for many pieces of Republican-backed legislation but actually taken the lead in authoring much of the president's domestic-policy agenda. During the 2001 tax-cut debate, Baucus cut a deal with committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and the White House to co-sponsor a slightly watered-down version of the president's proposal. In doing so, he not only gave the GOP his vote but, more importantly, his support for the tax cut effectively handed the White House the staff and other committee resources under his control.

Fellow Democrats were even more aggrieved, however, by Baucus' behavior during the Medicare battle with which Congress closed last year's session. The Senate initially passed a compromise bill with support from Republicans and some liberal Democrats like Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), while the House put forward a much more partisan piece of legislation on a narrow vote. A conference committee composed of members of both chambers was convened, but the Republican leadership, in a sharp break from precedent, said that though Democrats could be officially appointed to the committee, none would be invited to the meetings where the substantive negotiations would take place and the actual bill be written. None, that is, except for Baucus and the similarly cooperative John Breaux of Louisiana, who will retire at the end of the year.

By lending this farce a veneer of bipartisan credibility, Baucus and Breaux essentially denied the Democrats what was not only their best chance of defeating the bill in question but the party's last hope of putting a stop to a long string of Republican provocations aimed at reducing the minority party to window-dressing status.

As Norman Ornstein, a congressional analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute told The Washington Post in December, Democratic senators with any concern for the viability of the party would have said, "[I]f you don't let in Tom Daschle [D-S.D.] -- our leader, elected by the Senate to be in the room -- then we're not going in the room" and insisted that the Republicans at least abide by the rules. [...]

Notably, Baucus' behavior has drawn condemnation not just from liberals but from centrist Democrats outside of government who can normally be found extolling the virtues of such willingness to work across party lines. Jeff Lemieux, a health-policy analyst at the Democratic Leadership Council-affiliated Progressive Policy Institute, says that during the negotiations, "What the policy actually was really became secondary to all sorts of other things," and it became apparent that Baucus was "more interested in making a deal than making good policy." A December editorial in The New Republic called on the Democratic leadership to consider removing Baucus from his position on the committee, or at least to threaten to do so if his behavior doesn't improve. Despite a distinct lack of enthusiasm for Baucus among other Hill Democrats at the moment -- he not only backed bad policy but also handed a substantial political victory to the president heading into an election year -- such a move remains distinctly unlikely.

Baucus is the weak link in the battle. Take a primary off the table and Dick Cheney runs the senate.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

First Baccus: He's admittedly been a horrible Senator, but his weakness seems mostly to stem from a desire to influence legislation at all costs.

Now that he's in the majority he can do this through caucusing with other Democrats rather than sneaking across the aisle.

It will be up to the committee chairmen not to put right-wing crap onto the Senate floor. I haven't heard whether he's going to become the Finance Chaiman, but that would be bad.

Still, with the House strongly controlled by Democrats there will be the opportunity to prevent Bush from picking off a few "weak reeds" among the Senators and rolling the entire Democratic caucus.

The problems will come in the conference commmittee meetings where a Democratic bill will have to be watered down with a Rethug sponsored one. We'll see how that works out. It will be up to Pelosi & crew not to allow bad bills to be passed because a few corrupt or useless Senators allowed themselves to compromise with the Republicans.

by Cugel 2006-11-15 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

I haven't heard whether he's going to become the Finance Chaiman, but that would be bad.

He is, you are right.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Though some have remaining complaints. . .
That would be me.  

And it's more than Ohio.  The full accounting for the last election cycle and the DSCC has not yet been cpmpleted, though I would not be surprised to hear Tom Swan break silence before too long.

Meanwhile, here are my 12 Reasons Not to Trsut Chuck Schumer, though I did get a few more good ones by email after posting it:

http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/11/11/fd l-late-nite-12-reasons-not-to-trust-chuc k-schumer/

Casey was not the only possible option in PA, though Rendell and the gang were insistent.  Santorum was meat no matter what.  But the Lamont betrayal, whose details have not yet been fully aired, is unforgiveable, and I'm surprised to see LAmont supporters chucking this down the memory hole.

by Pachacutec 2006-11-14 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Rendell told Schumer that [Schumer] wouldn't want Casey. The blame on that race lies squarely with Schumer (who spent most of '05 bragging about it).

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-14 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Well if I got bad information from a high level senate staffer, then shock! shock!  I may faint!

by Pachacutec 2006-11-14 07:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer

I would never argue that Casey was the only Dem who could beat Santorum, but it would've been a lot tougher with a contested primary or a nominee against whom Santorum could have run more of a "values" campaign.

As it turned out, Santorum's favorables never moved in a year and a half.  In February 2005, when all this went down, we couldn't have known that for sure.

by Adam B 2006-11-14 07:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer

At the very least, it would have cost the DSCC many millions that ended up going to Missouri, Virginia and Montana.

by lorax 2006-11-15 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer

Absolutely.  And PA is a more expensive state to run in than the others.

That said, Bob Casey still raised $16M to Santorum's $26M (as of mid-October), and it paid off, both for him and the other PA Dems who won this year.

by Adam B 2006-11-15 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

I'm a passionate Lamont supporter, and I am NOT chucking it down the memory hole.

by Baltimore 2006-11-15 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Frankly, this is a big problem for Democrats because now every Senator has the Joe Lieberman story in their minds. "If the plebes dare to challenge me, I'll just follow Joe's example."

There damn well ought to be some sort of payback against those swine who just gave the finger to the Democratic primary voters of CT and refused to support Lamont.

Frankly, it's not Lamont I'm concerned with, but if the party thinks they can get away with stiffing their base, they will betray us again and again!

That would never happen in the Republican party! Can you imagine any Republican saying to the evangelical base which had just nominated a candidate -- "screw you! We don't care what you think, we're supporting an independent because they're more moderate and we don't like it when you make noise and get in the way!"

Their base would howl for blood until they got it.

Think I'm kidding? Remember when Sen. Schweiker of Penn. got in trouble with the base for saying there SHOULDN'T be a litmus test on Federal Judgeships? They roasted him relentlessly for his "moderate" weakness! And the pressure was just increased from day to day until he had to surrender and issue a pathetic appology saying "alright! Yes, I was wrong to talk about bi-partisanship and will only support a true fire-breathing conservative anti-abortionist who loves Bush to the courts. Now please let my children go unharmed."

We need the power to do the same thing to any Democrat who betrays us on a major issue. The only way to get it is to hold their feet to the fires every damn time. Have institutional lists of those Democrats who need to have challengers funded against them and carry through on our threats not to support them.

by Cugel 2006-11-15 12:25PM | 0 recs
by global yokel 2006-11-14 07:16PM | 0 recs
As long as Schumer has his spotlight, hes good.

When I saw Schumer at the DNC in Boston... He was the happiest person you could see whenever someone came up to him and shake his hand...

But, this is a big but... whenever Ms. Clinton was around and got rushed with dozens of people... there  was a pretty great change in personality and demeanor.

He is the senior senator and a one in leadership, but her press wave is quite big.

Either way hes a fantastic person to lead the DSCC and I don't really care how crappy Casey is as a candidate -- we screwed up but Santorum had some very very big influence in the party as well and they didn't think it was going to be that easy.

-- MrMacMan

by MrMacMan 2006-11-14 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

Awesome.  Snagging McCaskill was a major, major accomplishment, and I'm glad that we've got the architect of 2006 to do candidate recruitment for 2008.  Fantastic.  What better pitchman could you imagine?

by HellofaSandwich 2006-11-14 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer

I think Schumer did a great job, but I will fault him this: I have never understood why he dumped the last minute money into AZ, rather than TN. We could have won that race, whereas AZ, while closer than expected, was still comfortable.

by bluenc 2006-11-14 11:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer

He put a lot of money into TN anyway. It was a case of diminishing returns, IMHO.

by X Stryker 2006-11-15 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

The complaint is not that Casey is as a crappy candidate although he probably wasn't the best campeaigner, its that now we are stuck with him forat least 6 years and probably lnger while we could of hadsomeone more progressive with little change in the effort reqired to win the seat. Some of this may be baksightbut still.

by rtaycher1987 2006-11-14 11:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

That isn't hindsight, r. I said it at the time, and it's still my opinion. Fortunately, we've got the majority in the Senate, at least for the moment, and I hope Harry Reid will keep him in line and not put him on, say, Judiciary.

I still suspect he'll run for governor in 2010.

by joyful alternative 2006-11-15 04:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

I'd rather have had him governor in 2006 instead of Senator in 2006 f--ing over Ned Lamont.

by Baltimore 2006-11-15 10:04AM | 0 recs
Casey

I understand that many here are don't like Casey, but I seriously doubt that the Dems would be in the majority in the Senate without him.  Sure someone more pogressive than he could have won Santorum's seat but it would have consumed a lot more resources which instead were able to be spent in other races.

by comotion 2006-11-15 04:39AM | 0 recs
IF SCHUMER LEANS CONSERVATIVE?

How can we watch our backs, as Schumer tends to lean somewhat conservative.

Wasn't he one of the primo Lieberman fans?

Perhaps he will bend with the wind (and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi) towards a more progressive, activist stance.

by MS 2006-11-15 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

This notion that Casey is conservative just isn't true. He's a progressive Democrat on every issue except for choice.  He's very liberal on economic issues and was a great fit for that race.

by Marylander 2006-11-15 06:22AM | 0 recs
And aren't we all pretty happy w/Sen. Brown?

Perhaps in this case Schumer knew what he was doing... Brown beat DeWine in part on the trade issue.

by jgkojak 2006-11-15 08:39AM | 0 recs
I'm pretty happy w/Sen. Brown?

It's possible Paul Hackett might have won, but there would have been a bloody primary, which may have resulted in Brown emerging anyway, weakened and poorer.

And had Hackett had gotten the nomination, it's hard to see him winning as easily, or winning at all, against an incumbent who had "no firable offenses" as the popular phrase goes.

Hackett seemed okay with the result (after a period of time) by virtue of his willingness to appear on "Hardball" and other such shows, supporting not only Brown specifically, but the Democratic agenda overall.

So, yes, I'm pretty happy with Sen. Brown.

by OH Mark 2006-11-15 09:55AM | 0 recs
Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Leadership Post

Schumer is a political giant.  He's bloodthirsty and ruthless with the enemy and he keeps the troops in line.  I'd much rather him be our general than say, Jeff Bingaman or Kent Konrad.  Nice guys both, but they don't have the same drive Schumer does.

As an added thing, Schumer is battle-tested.  John Ensign, the Republican campaign leader, has to build his organization from scratch after Elizabeth Dole practically destroyed it.

by MyDD Fan 2006-11-15 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Reid Entices Schumer to Stay at DSCC with Lead

I give Schumer a lot of credit for winning the Senate. He made moves that bugged me (I could have done without Casey, for instance) but he made a lot of strategic decisions that were key to winning that I don't think he gets enough credit for. He got Byrd to run again instead of retiring, for one, and he scared off challenges to our reddest seats in ND and NE. I know we wouldn't have won if we'd had to play defense in any red states. In fact, not having to defend red seats freed us up to run further to the left than we otherwise might have, and made for a more unified caucus.

Schumer only cares about winning. He doesn't particularly care about ideology. And that's a good thing: if he did, he probably would have challenged Bernie Sanders. Now his biggest flaw seems to be in his narrow conception of what a winning candidate looks like, but hopefully Webb and Tester's campaigns--and the praise they've been receiving in the media--have helped him to broaden his mind about how Democrats can win, even in red states.

I am a little pissed about Lamont, but from a tactical perspective, we only need Lieberman for two more years. I sincerely doubt we'll be unable to net at least one pickup in '08, at which point we can toss Lieberman to the wolves. I don't think the difference between control for two years with a Lieberman handicap and control outright would have been worth the money and effort required, especially considering that the DSCC money that would have gone to CT would have to be taken from somewhere else.

by Gpack3 2006-11-15 03:40PM | 0 recs

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