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Durbin Locks Up Votes for Minority Whip

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is set to announce later today he has the votes to be the new Minority Whip, succeeding Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is in line to be Minority Leader in the 109th Congress.

“A majority of the Caucus have committed to us,” Joe Shoemaker, Durbin’s

spokesman, confirmed today.

Shoemaker said Durbin plans to speak to reporters while in Illinois this afternoon.

Durbin’s only competition for the job, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), seriously considered challenging the Illinois Democrat for the post, but chose instead to sidestep what would have been a divisive leadership race.

Such a contest could have further divided a Democratic Caucus still in shock after losing four seats in Tuesday’s elections. Republicans will hold a 55-45 edge over Democrats (with Independent Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords caucusing with the Democrats) next year.

Earlier this week, Reid was able to secure commitments from enough of his colleagues to convince Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to forgo a race for Minority Leader. Current Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) was defeated in his re-election bid Tuesday by former Rep. John Thune (R).

Durbin, 59, currently serves as the Assistant Floor Leader and was appointed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as a co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee earlier this year.

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