Sen. Charles Schumer declined a request by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to return as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2012 cycle, the New York Democrat said Sunday.
“I have been asked by Leader Reid and many of my colleagues, and I’ve said I think I can better serve our country, our state and our party by focusing on issues and getting us to refocus on the middle class,” Schumer said at a news conference, according to the New York Observer.
Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), who led the DSCC during the 2010 midterm election cycle, has previously said that he will not serve another term because he will face his own re-election, and Schumer was a caucus favorite to take the job. He led the committee during the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, returning the Senate’s majority to the Democrats and winning seats in some of the very states that will prove challenging in 2012.
Schumer currently serves in the leadership as Democratic Conference vice chairman.
As Majority Leader, Reid has the power to appoint a member of his caucus to serve as DSCC chairman. With Schumer taking himself out of consideration, Reid must now persuade another Senator to take the role in a challenging election year, when 23 members of the caucus will face re-election, some in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri.
Another caucus favorite to lead the DSCC, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, has maintained that he is uninterested in the post. Sens. Tom Udall (N.M.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Kay Hagan (N.C.) have all said the same, and identifying Menendez’s successor remains a Capitol Hill guessing game.
Schumer’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Sunday night, and Reid’s office declined to comment.