Sen. Chuck Schumer thinks he deserves something for the work he did as chairman of the Democrat Senate campaign committee. Under his leadership, the committee broke fundraising records, recruited well, and helped shape what appears to be a Democrat majority in the Senate for the 110th Congress.
Sen. Harry Reid intends to take the podium as Senate Majority Leader, and his partner in crime, Sen. Dick Durbin, intends to remain as whip. Rumors within the Democrat caucus have Reid looking for something for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to do. “But Reid’s heart isn’t in it,” says a leadership aide. “He knows he’s going to be in her shadow like everyone else for the time being, at least until she makes her announcement about running for higher office.”
So where can Schumer go? Most of the committee chairmanships are spoken for, and the only one in question would be Homeland Security, where Sen. Joe Lieberman was ranking member.
“I don’t see how Lieberman isn’t given that chairmanship, particularly given the lack of an overwhelming majority,” says the leadership aide. “Senator Lieberman is coming into this Congress from a real position of strength. If I’m Harry Reid, I’m giving him everything he wants.”
According to Senate sources, Reid is mulling surrendering his post as head of the Democrat Conference, long a position held by the Democrat leader. Given the political nature of the job, it’s something Democrats believe Schumer would want to undertake, and it would allow him to bigfoot his junior Senator from New York as the voice of policy for the party after Reid and Durbin.
EVERYONE AGREES THAT, unlike Senator Schumer, Republican National Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Elizabeth Dole was a disaster. “A week before the election she was toast,” says a Republican National Committee staffer. “They were already looking for new blood before the votes were tallied.”
An initial offer for the post went to Sen. John Thune, but he declined the offer.
This weekend, at the Republican Senate retreat, we’re hearing that Sen. John Ensign of Nevada has agreed to accept the position, and will be bringing much his senior staff with experience in campaigns with him.
Ensign is a strong pick, with good ties for fundraising and a good conservative background.
IN OTHER SENATE ELECTION news, Sen. Trent Lott is still struggling with whether to pursue the Senate Whip position over Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Alexander is said to have many of the votes in place, but there is no question that Lott would be a superior vote counter and floor strategist.
One knock against Alexander: his willingness to walk away from core conservative ideals, such as not raising taxes. Alexander has been one of the most vocal advocates for an Internet sales tax.
Lott, on the other hand, has led on keeping that tax moratorium in place.
Elections for the posts may come as early as this week.