"Not It" -- Democrats Avoiding 2012 DSCC Chairmanship Like the Plague

Posted: Nov 12, 2010 6:51 PM
I spent some time chatting with Republican operatives this afternoon, and they were chuckling about the schoolyard-style game of "not it" currently playing out among Senate Democrats.  As we've mentioned before, the 2012 Senate landscape is daunting for the Dems, who will be defending 23 Senate seats to the Republicans' ten.  Not surprisingly, therefore, the party's Senate campaign arm is struggling to find a member brave enough to steer Democrats down the treacherous path.  Last week, The Hill reported on the slew of Democrats who have already publicly declined the gig:

Earlier this fall, Senate Democrats hoped that Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), who has a national profile and fundraising base because of his 2008 presidential ambitions, would take the job.  But Warner has ruled out the possibility.

“It’s not happening,” said Luke Albee, Warner’s chief of staff.

Senior Democrats such as Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and John Kerry (Mass.) want to devote their time and attention to the committees they chair.

Other Democratic senators whose names have been floated as candidates for the job have also said no.

Sen. Tom Udall [N.M.] is not interested in the position,” said his spokeswoman, Marissa Padilla.  Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) is also passing.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) is not interested in the job either, according to his spokesman.

We can now add another name to the "no" list:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet has decided against chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2012 election cycle, according to sources familiar with his decision.

Bennet, who was elected to a full six-year term last Tuesday after being appointed to the seat in early 2009, was asked to consider heading the Senate campaign arm by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.). The two men spoke by phone about the job on Tuesday.

Tough math aside, it's revealing that nobody is willing to quarterback the party's Senate effort (a) on behalf on their heroic newly-re-elected Majority Leader, who's being turned down left and right, and (b) in a year when The One will be at the top of the ticket.  It's a tacit acknowledgment by top Democrats of how sharply the president's political standing has fallen. 

Democrats are increasingly casting their eyes to one potential savior:  Chuck Schumer, whose first two stints at the DSCC were remarkably successful, but who has thus far demurred:

Democratic aides and strategists clamoring for Schumer say the job is too critical to leave to an untested senator.

Colleagues talked to Schumer before the election about returning to the DSCC, and he rebuffed the idea.

Republicans, meanwhile, will reportedly stick with Sen. John Cornyn for the next cycle.  If Cornyn and GOP play their cards right, it could be a monster year.