The news of Harry Reid’s decision to retire at the end of his current term is already causing speculation about who will fill his role and lead senate Democrats.

Charles Schumer of New York seems like an obvious choice to some, but the party’s Warren wing is always eager to give the junior senator from Massachusetts a promotion.

Peter Schroeder of The Hill:

On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads

Harry Reid’s decision to not seek reelection could open another front in the battle for the direction of the Democratic Party, and its complicated relationship with Wall Street.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) emerged as the immediate favorite to take over as the chamber’s top Democrat, but his rise could further intensify an already heated debate about the party’s approach to the financial sector, one of his home state’s biggest industries.

Led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), liberals with a harsh perspective on Wall Street have seen their voice and influence within the Democratic Party grow of late.

The freshman senator’s fierce recriminations of big bankers have attracted plenty of attention on the left and launched her into a spot in Senate leadership, just two years into the job. That message also provided the foundation for a relentless campaign to get her to challenge Hillary Clinton, who many on the left are wary of for ties to the financial sector.

That same groundswell could complicate Schumer’s bid to lead Senate Democrats.

“I don’t know how he’s going to play this, I really don’t,” said one financial lobbyist. “He’s got huge personal and political interest in the financial industry…they’re the biggest employers in his state.”

According to the Washington Post, Reid has endorsed Schumer to replace him.

While some progressives might prefer Warren in the leadership role, there is disagreement.

Danny Vinik of The New Republic:

Elizabeth Warren Should Not Replace Harry Reid

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement Friday that he will not seek reelection has led to wild speculation about who will replace the long-time Democratic leader. The smart money, right now, is on New York Senator Chuck Schumer, especially because Reid endorsed him already. But liberal groups are quickly marshalling their support for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“If Elizabeth Warren doesn’t run for president, she should definitely run for leader of the Senate,” a spokesman for Democracy for America told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. “The election for Senate leader is not going to be a slam dunk for any early front-runner, especially someone like Senator Schumer. He’s closer to Wall Street while the Wall Street wing of the party is dying and the Elizabeth Warren wing is rising. It only makes sense that the next leader of the U.S. Senate is either from that wing or deeply understands how to work with that wing.”

This is a terrible idea, one that would not just kneecap Warren’s greatest skills as a legislator, but would also hurt the Democratic Party and thus set back progressive causes.

None dare call it a Democrat civil war, but this does indicate a possible crossroads for the party.

Schumer is the face of the Democrat establishment while Warren is the standard bearer for the anti-capitalist base.

The good news for everyone is that we’ll finally be rid of Reid.


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