Senate Democrats Re-Elect Leaders

Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:58am

The Senate Democratic Conference voted Wednesday to keep its leadership team intact, a little more than a week after the party made unexpected gains at the polls and expanded its majority.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is still presiding over a 55-member caucus by the time next Congress begins, with 53 Democrats — including every sitting incumbent who had been up for re-election — and two independents. In addition to longtime Democratic ally Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., independent Maine Sen.-elect Angus King decided earlier today to ally himself with the conference.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois will continue in his role as Senate majority whip, the No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, while Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York kept his spot as conference vice chairman and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington as conference secretary.

Though there was little drama surrounding the election of the party’s top four officials, there has been rampant speculation in recent days as to who will take Murray’s place at the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado has been offered the position but has not made a final decision on whether he will accept, two Democratic leadership sources confirmed. That Bennet was the top choice for the job was first reported by Politico.

The only other small changes made to the leadership team were that Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana will replace Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico at the committee outreach post and Bennet will become the vice chairman of rural outreach, replacing outgoing Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.

Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska also will continue as the chairman of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, a position appointed by Reid, per a leadership source.