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Who Will Replace Harry Reid As Senate Minority Leader?

Who Will Replace Harry Reid As Senate Minority Leader?

Retirement announcement signals leadership vacancy on the left.

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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“The freshman senator’s fierce recriminations of big bankers…

[nudge, nudge, wink, wink]

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.”

Oh, Ol’ Walleyes has her web spun into WAY more areas than JUST the “financial sector”.

Hell, that’s a big part of her sell (see what I did there?). She connects nodes of power to other nodes.

That’s how you spell “oligarchy”.

Humphrey's Executor | March 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm

The position of Senate Majority leader, while powerful, is not necessarily a good launching pad for the presidency. It involves way too much cat-herding. I’ve always thought Reid got the job primarily because no thoughtful, ambitious, or principled person would want it.

    Only LBJ moved from Senate Leader to President, that I know of, and he only did so by way of succession from the Vice Presidency – his 1960 candidacy was regional and weak, Kennedy needed the Southerner for “balance” in the only election where it actually may have made the difference.

NC Mountain Girl | March 29, 2015 at 5:49 pm

As has been noted, these leadership posts are mostly a thankless exercise in cat herding. The best leaders tend to be low key and work behind closed doors.

Since it is well known that one risks serious bodily harm by venturing between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera, I have to wonder if he is temperamentally suited for the job? Also, he comes across like the brash New Yorker he is. That seldom plays well in the rest of the country.

I would not put it past Reid to pull the stunt the Emperor Tiberius did in I, Claudius and pick a successor who will make him look far better in hindsight.

i think Mitch McConnell would be perfect for the position, given the stands he takes and the way he votes…

This may just be the perfect opportunity for Michelle to grab a senate seat. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama went right back into politics after his presidential term is up.

ugottabekiddinme | March 29, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Saw that Slate has an article promoting Patty Murray (Dimbulb, WA) to succeed Reid, because she was so effective or something.

Wow. I am a long-suffering WA resident, who is not at all represented by either of our senators (Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-WA, whose pet issue is that she is really really really opposed to the Washington Redskins’ name).

The article’s author must have missed Patty’s remarks that Osama bin Laden was so beloved and followed because he’d built all those clinics and daycare centers. Or the zillion other times she has been nominated or lampooned as the dumbest member of the Senate. Here is just one example:

Yes, America needs a Senate minority leader with a college degree in . . . recreation! Go Patty!

Bruce Hayden | March 29, 2015 at 9:30 pm

My vote is for Warren, Murray, etc. Chuckie Schumer has been around the Senate long enough, and is smart enough, that he would probably be fairly effective as Senate Minority Leader, and maybe even Majority Leader if the Dems pick up enough votes in 2016. He is smart, experienced, and vicious. Warren is a novice, Murray, and a lot of others, are idiots. And, obviously, I think that the less effective the Dem leader is in the Senate, the better for the country.

The question is, will Obama support Schumer, who has been a faithful soldier but who is ambitious himself and close to Wall Street? Unless he opposes him, Chuck will get it.

Warren lacks the seniority, and wants to retain the flexibility to stray left of the party line when there is such a thing.

So it is possible Murray will seek the job. She can make it tough on Democrats with her seniority and especially if Hillary’s campaign is derailed, because of the Wymyn thing. Obama might give the nod because she is completely controllable, being barely able to read her statements herself.