Schumer Finally Ready to Exit DSCC?

Posted November 17, 2008 at 6:40pm

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and his likely successor, Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) — and sources close to them — remain on lockdown and are declining comment on a changing of the guard at the DSCC.

But Democratic insiders widely expect Menendez to take over as the head of the committee for the 2010 election cycle once the Senate Democratic Conference finalizes its leadership slots for the 111th Congress. The decision could come as early as today, when the Conference is scheduled to tap its leadership lineup for next year, although Democratic sources were saying late Monday that no announcement on the DSCC is scheduled.

The campaign committee and Menendez’s Senate office declined to comment for this story. But political operatives in the K Street and consulting communities predict Menendez will eventually assume control of the fundraising arm, even if the handoff doesn’t occur at Senate Democratic organizational meetings.

“All signs point to Menendez,” said one political operative based in Washington, D.C.

Schumer is said to have little interest in remaining as DSCC chairman for an unprecedented third consecutive term. But he has been busy since Election Day managing three outstanding Senate races: a runoff in Georgia, a recount in Minnesota and the counting of the votes in Alaska.

Menendez, Schumer’s No. 2 at the DSCC during the 2008 cycle, has been viewed as Schumer’s heir apparent for the past two years, with no other names receiving consistent mention. Menendez would have his work cut out for him, succeeding the aggressive New Yorker who helped Senate Democrats first claim, and then expand, their majority.

Despite the fact that Schumer is up for re-election in 2010, some Democratic insiders are not fully convinced he is ready to give up control of the DSCC. Some Democratic sources even go so far as to predict that Schumer will retain the chairmanship.

But other sources say Schumer merely enjoys stoking the speculation to keep his name a topic of conversation, and that he has no intention of spending another cycle heading the DSCC given the opportunity to craft policy in a political environment that finds Democrats in control of Congress and the White House. Schumer also holds the No. 3 Democratic leadership post in the Senate as the Conference vice chairman.

“Schumer loves the press. He loves the story,” offered one source.

The Republicans figured out their Senatorial committee leader last week when Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) called Sen. John Cornyn to inform his Texas colleague that he was dropping out of the race for National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman to focus on his uncertain re-election.

Coleman beat comedian Al Franken (D) by a couple hundred votes, a margin small enough to trigger an automatic statewide recount.